Commentary News Skewed

Ted Rall: Fisking The Los Angeles Times [exclusive]

Ted Rall LA Times Ted Rall Los Angeles Times firing Ted Rall over LAPD criticism
Ted Rall
Written by Ted Rall

The Ted Rall LA Times brouhaha is lighting up the net. Rall responds to the paper’s explanation on why it fired him after the LAPD complained about him. Exclusive.

ted rall LA Times Los Angeles Times firing and the LAPDUPDATE July 31, 2015 8:06 a.m. ET: Cleaned Up LAPD Tape of Ted Rall Released Today: Cops Mistaken About Rall Never Getting Handcuffed

aNewDomain — On Monday, The Los Angeles Times fired me, citing LAPD “evidence” that I had lied about getting mistreated by a Los Angeles cop as he ticketed me for jaywalking. In 2001. Now, the paper has published an Editor’s Note, which explains its decision to fire me after the LAPD came knocking on its door with a mostly inaudible audio tape that supposedly proved the LAPD’s case.

I was never permitted to tell my side of the story in the meetings discussing my fate. I did that here early Tuesday a.m. My response to the latest twist, below.

LA Times Editorial Page Editor Nick Goldberg’s note is remarkable for its unfairness, illogic and deference to the LAPD — three aspects that ought to disqualify anyone from working in media. Here it is, in its entirety, with my reactions and responses interleaved throughout.

In a May 11 post on The Times‘ OpinionLA blog, Ted Rall — a freelance cartoonist whose work appears regularly in The Times — described an incident in which he was stopped for jaywalking on Melrose Avenue in 2001. Rall said he was thrown up against a wall, handcuffed and roughed up by an LAPD motorcycle policeman who also threw his driver’s license into the sewer. Rall also wrote that dozens of onlookers shouted in protest at the officer’s conduct.”

“Since then, the Los Angeles Police Department has provided records about the incident, including a complaint Rall filed at the time. An audiotape of the encounter recorded by the police officer does not back up Rall’s assertions; it gives no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman or that Rall’s license was thrown into the sewer or that he was handcuffed. Nor is there any evidence on the recording of a crowd of shouting onlookers.”

You can read my detailed response to these accusations here. If you’re in a hurry, at least listen to the audiotape for yourself here. It will take about six minutes. The audiotape is about 90 percent blank/random noise.

Since the tape is mostly blank/random noise — something the LAPD concedes in its official transcript of same — it is true that there’s “no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman or that Rall’s license was thrown into the sewer or that he was handcuffed.” How could there be?

It’s an audiotape!

And, even if the tape had been of high quality — that is far from the case — how would you hear me being roughed up, or handcuffed, or my license being tossed?

Contrary to Goldberg’s statement, however, there may be some evidence of the crowd — and the crowd was there.

In Rall’s initial complaint to the LAPD, he describes the incident without mentioning any physical violence or handcuffing but says that the police officer was ‘belligerent and hostile’ and that he threw Rall’s license into the ‘gutter.’ The tape depicts a polite interaction.”

For what you can hear, yes, sort of. You can hear the sarcasm in the officer’s voice. You can hear him whistling and humming.

Of course, he knew he was being taped. I didn’t know that at the time.

I remember thinking that his behavior was odd. For example, he spoke politely about returning my license, while throwing it on the ground with a smirk. Why did he do that? Now I get it. He was playing to the tape. Obviously.

In addition, Rall wrote in his blog post that the LAPD dismissed his complaint without ever contacting him. Department records show that internal affairs investigators made repeated attempts to contact Rall, without success.”

In my version of events here, you can see the LAPD call log. Even the year is wrong in it. Anyone can falsify a call log. Fact: They didn’t call, or if they did, they didn’t leave a message. I am easy to reach by phone.

“Asked to explain these inconsistencies, Rall said he stands by his blog post.”

“As to why he didn’t mention any physical abuse in his letter to the LAPD in 2001, Rall said he didn’t want to make an enemy of the department, in part because he hosted a local radio talk show at the time. After listening to the tape, Rall noted that it was of poor quality and contained inaudible segments.”

It’s true that I didn’t want to alienate the LAPD. As many people know, especially black people, cops can be dangerous.

I was also far more focused on the long-term injustice — being charged with a crime I didn’t commit — than the short-term, minutes-long humiliation of being detained in handcuffs on the street.

Speaking of accuracy, it would be more accurate to say that the tape is mainly inaudible, and contains some partly audible segments.

However, the recording and other evidence provided by the LAPD raise serious questions about the accuracy of Rall’s blog post. Based on this, the piece should not have been published.

Rall’s future work will not appear in The Times.”

“The Los Angeles Times is a trusted source of news because of the quality and integrity of the work its journalists do. This is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish.” —Nicholas Goldberg, Editor of the Editorial Pages

The Los Angeles Times hasn’t covered itself with glory with this decision. Rather, it has sent a loud message to its editorial staff, reporters, freelancers and readers: If you produce work that the police or other powerful interests dislike, The Los Angeles Times will fire you.

I am professionally and personally insulted — but I’ll get over it.

Cops lie. Everyone knows that.

Journalism, on the other hand, suffers irreparable damage whenever editors sell out their writers for political favors.

For aNewDomain and the new SkewedNews satire site, I am Ted Rall.

Cover image: LA Times newsroom by BusBlog.TonyPierce.com, All Rights Reserved.

About the author

Ted Rall

Ted Rall

Based in New York, Ted Rall is aNewDomain's chief commentator and a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist. A Pulitzer nominee, Rall's latest book is the NYT bestselling book, Trump: A Graphic Biography.
Support his work and see his toons first at his site on Petreon.

  • Mellow Jessica

    Fuck the police, Ted! And the LA Times, too! Didn’t they lead the charge in destroying the life of that Mercury News reporter who broke the story on CIA&crack_cocaine?

    Screw them!

    • Yes, that was them.

    • ted

      Gary Webb. Remember him!

      • Mellow Jessica

        Yes, thank you.

    • ted

      Not so mellow Jessica… Right On!

      • Mellow Jessica

        I hate the servile, pro-authoritarian, boot-licking media!

  • ted

    This is a typical smear campaign against a journalist telling truth. Well, we can’t have that!

  • Marcus

    Maybe if you didn’t act like an idiot and just accepted the ticket for the law YOU broke you would still work at the LA Times. Typical behavior of people today to not accept the consequence of poor judgment. So blame everyone but yourself. In the meantime all of us on the sideline will watch as you continue to dig yourself deeper in a hole with excuses.

    • alrui

      You sound like the perfect citizen slave!

    • Yeah, the thing is: I wasn’t jaywalking. Or did you miss that part?

      • Slexie

        So why didn’t you fight the ticket?

        • I fought the ticket. Next stupid comment?

    • Also: are you arguing that I wasn’t compliant? The LAT fired me because they said it wasn’t credible that I was so polite!

  • The Los Angeles Times once served the public’s right to know with great journalists covering law enforcement’s CONSTANT abuse to citizen’s such as Mark Arax and Mark Gladstone. Once they let all the good journalists go, their credibility really sank. Police are out of control and everyone knows that who lives here. I would believe Ted Rall long before I’d believe anyone from LAPD. For shame this “firing” but it falls in line with all the best journalists who have been let go in the past.

  • On Tuesday I emailed a Letter to the Editor of the LA Times letting them know that my family has been reading the LA Times since 1967. I pointed out to them how wrong they are to stop publishing essays and cartoons from Ted Rall and that although I may not always agree with him, I am always educated after reading his material. I think the bottom line here is Ted Rall is just too honest, he pissed off the LAPD and then the LAPD put pressure on the Times to fire Rall.

    In my letter, I emphasized to the Times that even if everything Times editorial page editor Goldberg said in his comments about Rall are true, Rall falls under the standards of a commentator (same as Chris Matthews, Bill O’Reilly, etc.). Rall did nothing wrong and the audiotape I listened too reveals nothing to support Goldberg’s tirade.

    Although this is a lame move by the Times, perhaps it will have the same effect as when ABC fired Bill Maher after his comment re September 11 and get Rall a better gig where he can reach even more people with his thoughtful and creative writings and cartoons!

    • Thank you, Crusader! I especially appreciate you writing that letter.

  • Becki Jordan-Green

    “Cops lie. Everyone knows that.” True,but you’ve been caught lying as well. Man up and just own it,instead of whining and lying.

    • Jester1137

      You didn’t hear a drivers license hit the ground on an audio tape….so Ted is lying?

  • Ted, you state that: “Cops lie. Everyone knows that.” I firmly believe that journalists will lie or paint a false picture to convey their personal sentiments or in order to push an agenda.
    I think that’s what you’re doing here by dredging up an incident from FOURTEEN years ago. And a very, very minor incident at that. Was it worth losing your job by trying to bang on the same drum as everyone else? You should’ve marched to your own beat instead of jumping on the band wagon.

    • Jester1137

      Killer for hire heard from. Now moving on to remarks made by human beings with souls.

    • At the time – 14 years ago – I filed a formal complaint. Which they decided to ignore. If they hadn’t done that, perhaps I would have filed it away.

  • Jester1137

    You can’t hear the license hit the ground on the tape, or “Hear” a man being grabbed and pushed against a wall.

    Because, you know, those things are normally audible on a microcassette recorder. On 15 year old tape. Recorded on a busy street.

    • derlehrer

      I keep wondering, when Durr says, “Here, I’ll take that until we’re done,” what is he talking about? I am inclined to believe it was at that point that he removed the handcuffs in order to free up Rall’s hand for the signature on the ticket. Completely consistent with Rall’s account of the incident.

  • Ed Smith

    Rall in response to why he asked the cop to recommend a good restaurant after the exchange- “Listening to the tape now, I can’t imagine what I was thinking,” Rall writes. “The only explanation I can fathom is that I had classic Stockholm Syndrome. I was stunned at the time. Not that I’m comparing myself with a rape victim — far from it — but now I better understand why sometimes a raped woman will question pressing charges or call a date-rapist at home hours after he left her. I was blathering nonsense, I guess.”

    How can any reasonable person not see the absurdity in Rall’s response? Classic Stockholm Syndrome? Come on. Stockholm Syndrome takes conditioning via intermittent abuse by a captor over a long period of time. It doesn’t happen from a 10 minute interaction with a mean cop. Sure, it’s the only explanation Rall can think of but the only explanation that makes sense is that Rall is telling a bald faced lie.