aNewDomain commentary — Institutional corruption. Conflict of interest. Police who threaten journalists who dare to call them to account for violence and misconduct.
These are the kinds of stories that made us want to be journalists.
These are the kinds of issues that, especially when they all come together in one story, The Los Angeles Times should be at the forefront of covering.
This time, however, the Times itself is at the center of the story.
Not only is it failing to cover the story itself, it is refusing to answer questions about its actions from reporters at major news outlets. As a major media organization, the Times has an obligation to its readers to be transparent — a duty it is violating.
Someone at the highest level of authority within the Times leadership appears to have ordered that I be fired as the Times’ editorial cartoonist — as a favor to the LAPD or LAPPL police union, it seems. The police didn’t like my long record of holding them accountable.
Editors who fired me didn’t let me talk to the editorial board. Editorial management rushed to judgement in fewer than 24 hours.
Editors used “evidence” that was almost certainly doctored to do so. And then, even after I used enhancement of the dubbed LAPD audiotape (legally inadmissable as evidence to clear my name), the Times refused to address the existence of the new evidence, much less act upon it.
Comments at latimes.com were shut down as soon as paid Times subscribers began stating dozens of opinions in my favor. Hundreds of letters to the editor were censored, readers claimed in comments around the Internet.
After three weeks, the Times doubled down with a second “Editor’s Note,” apparently written by legal counsel.
Never in 2500 words did it mention, for example, that one of the two audio experts hired by the Times, Ed Primeau, had the audiotape enhanced (as opposed to analyzed), and that his results confirmed the enhanced tape results I’d obtained from Post Haste Digital. Like ours, his transcript shows the presence of the angry crowd, which the LAPD and the Times deny were present at my 2001 jaywalking arrest.
This isn’t journalism.
This is cherry-picking to protect the wrongdoing of a corporation.
Conflicts of Interest?
The Times is owned by Tribune Publishing. The No. 1 shareholder of Tribune is Oaktree Capital, a Beverly Hills private equity firm that handles the $18.4 billion pension fund of the LAPPL, which issued a gloating blog right after I was fired, warning other journalists what could happen if they crossed the boys in blue.
Times Publisher Austin Beutner, a former deputy mayor with evident ambitions to run city hall, is so cozy with the LAPPL that he received its 2014 “Eagle and Badge” Award.
There is considerable circumstantial evidence that Beutner directly received the controversial audiotape from one or more officials at the LAPPL …
The LAPPL Threatens Journalists
“We hope other news publications will take note of the Times’ willingness to hear and respond to the other side of the story and look at the facts,” the LAPPL wrote in its gloating blog post the day after I was fired, which it also issued as a press release. Strangely, the LAPPL took down the post a week or more later and has yet to answer reporters’ questions about why it did so.
As for me, I am continuing to explore my legal options vis-à-vis the Times. I am requesting that the LAPD, LAPPL and Los Angeles Times release correspondence between them concerning me and my work. Investigative journalists are working this story.
But the truth won’t come out without your help.
Police can’t be allowed to exercise editorial control over The Los Angeles Times. Police control over the press is a direct threat to democracy.
If you know something, please tell me. Tell me anonymously. There are many ways to do this.
Please contact me if you have any information whatsoever that might help resolve the many questions that top management still refuses to answer.
Among the questions that the Times is stonewalling include:
Where is the original micro-cassette? Did the newspaper ever get it?
Who received the audio file — Publisher Austin Beutner, Editor Davan Maharaj, Editorial Page Editor Nick Goldberg, Reporter Paul Pringle or someone else?
Who sent it? Was it the LAPD or the LAPPL?
The audio appears to have been spliced and otherwise manipulated. If so, was that done by the paper? By the LAPD? The LAPPL?
There appears to be more to the record of LAPD Officer Will Durr than the paper admitted to its readers. If so, what is in Durr’s Internal Affairs files?
The LAPPL in its blog post/release made it clear that my firing was a message directed at other reporters, especially at the Times. Has there been pressure not to criticize the police, or to praise them? A high number of articles favorable to the police do seem to have appeared lately.
Anything, no matter how seemingly insignificant, might help crack this story. If you’re concerned about the Times’ capitulation to the LAPD/LAPPL, and you know anything that could help, please get in touch.