"If Ms. Regan did make the charge that a Jewish cabal was conspiring against her, she clearly stepped over the line by employing the age-old anti-Semitic canard that Jews conspire against non-Jews," ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman said. "She also gives credence to the conspiracy theory that Jews control the media.
"Whatever her dispute with HarperCollins, the Jewishness of her critics had absolutely no relevance to the matter at hand, which leads one to question why she resorted to raising the Jewish issue."
Regan was fired Friday by the News Corp.-owned HarperCollins after a telephone confrontation in which she complained of a "Jewish cabal" against her in the industry and appeared to liken herself to a victim of the Nazis as she stated that Jews "should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie."
Andrew Butcher, a spokesman for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., told The Associated Press on Monday that the remarks were made during a conversation between Regan and HarperCollins lawyer Mark Jackson, who took notes. At the time, the two were discussing the future of a new novel about baseball star Mickey Mantle.
Butcher released the comments in response to a threatened libel suit from Regan's legal representative, Hollywood attorney Bert Fields, who had called earlier reports of inappropriate remarks "completely untrue."
Since 1994, Regan had headed the ReganBooks imprint at HarperCollins. Silent publicly since her dismissal, she is preparing a brief statement, Fields said.
Fields, whose other clients have included Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg, told the AP Tuesday that he "was really alarmed" by Foxman's remarks and found them "quite harmful to the Jewish cause. And I feel free to say that because I am Jewish."
Fields acknowledged that Regan had used the word "cabal," but denied she said "Jewish cabal."
Even if she had, he said, her comments would not be anti-Semitic.
"I am quite stunned at what I think is a super thin-skinned response (by Foxman)," Fields said. "If a Jewish person is in a cabal, I don't think it implies that all Jews are conspiring against her. And to say that is silly."
Regan, one of the book world's most successful and temperamental publishers, reportedly had a long history of tension with HarperCollins CEO Jane Friedman even as Murdoch supported her. But last month, Murdoch canceled "If I Did It," her planned O.J. Simpson book and TV interview.
Simpson's book, said to have described how he theoretically would have committed the murders of ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, had been scheduled for release Nov. 30 following the airing of a two-part Simpson interview on the FOX network.
Butcher said that Regan and Jackson were discussing an upcoming Regan book, Peter Golenbock's "7: The Mickey Mantle Novel," in which the author, imagining he is Mantle, details a life of sexual exploits, including a tryst with Marilyn Monroe.
With Mantle's family and fans of the late Yankee enraged, Regan and Jackson of HarperCollins were discussing the timing and content of the planned March release, according to Butcher. Regan got frustrated by what she believed was HarperCollins' lack of support, and lashed out.
She complained that Jackson, Friedman, HarperCollins Executive Editor David Hirshey and longtime literary agent Esther Newberg were a "Jewish cabal," Butcher said.
Butcher said she pleaded with Jackson: "Of all people, Jews should know about ganging up, finding common enemies and telling the big lie."
Fields said Tuesday he saw nothing wrong with Regan's pointing out that Jews should be "understanding about any victim, because they have suffered themselves." The attorney said that a suit for breach of contract would be filed "within the next few days," but that any charges of libel were still being "explored."
Fields also confirmed that before she was fired Regan was in the planning stages of a reality TV show — with the knowledge of HarperCollins — to air on Bravo. A spokeswoman for Bravo, Cameron Blanchard, said the deal was still in "development" and declined comment on its status or its content.
HarperCollins and FOX are owned by News Corp., which is the parent company of FOXNews.com.