Patterico's Pontifications

3/26/2008

BREAKING: L.A. Times Admits Documents in Tupac/Sean Combs Story Were Fabricated

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:42 pm

The story is here.

A Los Angeles Times story about a brutal 1994 attack on rap superstar Tupac Shakur was partially based on documents that appear to have been fabricated, the reporter and editor responsible for the story said Wednesday.

Reporter Chuck Philips and his supervisor, Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, issued statements of apology Wednesday afternoon. The statements came after The Times took withering criticism for the Shakur article, which appeared on latimes.com last week and two days later in the paper’s Calendar section.

I think the paper needs to take a broader look at Philips’s work. I’ve had concerns in the past about his failure to disclose conflicts in stories he has written — for example, see here. But a quick apology may have the effect of sweeping any such investigation under the rug.

UPDATE: Here’s a little more detail on why the L.A. Times should dig deeper into Chuck Philips. This story should not be viewed in isolation. Let’s take a look at the bigger picture.

Russell Poole, the LAPD homicide detective (now retired) who investigated Biggie Smalls’s murder, believes that Suge Knight is responsible for both Smalls’s and Tupac Shakur’s murders. Poole believes that Knight planned Smalls’s murder with LAPD officer and Bloods gang member David Mack, who is now incarcerated in federal prison for bank robbery. Poole says that LAPD blocked his investigation whenever it led to possible corruption or criminal involvement by LAPD officers. For years, Biggie Smalls’s family has pursued a civil case against the LAPD on Poole’s theory. Randall Sullivan reported the details of Poole’s theory in a Rolling Stone article and in a book called LAbyrinth.

Chuck Philips has had a long association with Suge Knight:

Chuck Philips, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his music business reporting in 1999, has covered Death Row Records since the early ‘90’s. He has long been known for obtaining scoops and exclusive interviews for The Times due to his unmatched access to Suge Knight. Some critics have characterized him as Suge’s apologist and as a reporter corrupted by access. Others speculate there may be more to it than that. One key witness at the Biggie civil trial, Death Row insider Kevin Hackie, who identified David Mack as attending Death Row functions, also stated in a pre-trial deposition that “Chuck Philips was frequently at Death Row functions and received payments from Death Row Records.” Hackie backed off of this statement at trial, but he also tried to back away from everything he had told investigators, stating, convincingly, that “I’m in fear for my life.” Asked what he feared, Hackie stated: “Retribution by the Bloods, the Los Angeles Police Department and associates of Death Row Records.”

Now, I’m willing to give Philips the benefit of the doubt and assume that the allegations that he took money from Knight are not true. But I distinctly remember reading Philips covering Hackie’s trial testimony, and portraying his recantation at trial as discrediting his previous testimony — as if there was no possibility that Hackie’s pretrial testimony could possibly be true. I wrote about this here and here.

When Philips covered Hackie’s testimony, I believe Philips was caught in a clear conflict of interest. To my recollection (I can’t find the original story), Philips did not tell readers that he had a personal reason to credit Hackie’s trial testimony and discredit his pretrial testimony. In investigating this latest story, the L.A. Times ought to revisit this issue.

There is a broader theme relating to Philips’s repeated coverage of issues involving Knight: for whatever reason, Philips tends to write stories supporting Knight.

Philips has written numerous articles such as this one, mocking the civil case brought by Biggie Smalls’s family. In his Rolling Stone article, Randall Sullivan reported that Philips had disclosed the identity of an informant who was working with the FBI to investigate evidence that could tie Mack and his friend Amir Muhammad — and by extension Knight — to Smalls’s murder:

Almost immediately after this encounter, Psycho Mike said, someone had leaked word of the FBI investigation to Chuck Philips, who promptly produced a story for the Times that “penned me out as the source of going down to San Diego with a wire.”

Revealing the informant’s identity got the informant beaten by Bloods gang members, driving him underground. This had the effect of removing a witness who would have testified to evidence tying Knight to the killing of Smalls.

And of course, Philips famously penned a blockbuster story that tied Notorious B.I.G. to the Tupac murder — a theory that, if true, would discredit Poole’s theory and take the heat off Suge Knight. The sourcing for that story was puzzlingly anonymous for a story with such a breathtaking claim — that such a famous and distinctive looking rapper as Biggie Smalls had been in Las Vegas that night and nobody had known it until Chuck Philips reported it.

Now that Philips’s most recent story has been shown to be based in part on admittedly forged documents, all of this bears re-examination. The question is whether the L.A. Times will do it.

UPDATE x2: There’s another aspect to this story that I find disturbing, but I haven’t felt comfortable writing about it, even though I have alluded to it. Perhaps WLS will discuss it in coming days. Hint: an enterprising person might look at the earlier article referred to in the later article, and see whether the connection to Suge Knight/Biggie Smalls was mentioned. And if it wasn’t . . . then why not? And that’s all I’ll say.

UPDATE x3: Thanks to Instapundit and Michelle Malkin for the links. My original post on this is here. It includes a link to the amusing Smoking Gun story that started this yesterday morning.

UPDATE x4: The paper was warned before publication.

UPDATE x5: My guest blogger WLS has much more here.

The Democratic Party Credentials Committee

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:45 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Hillary Clinton on Fox News with Greta, March 26, 2008:

“[Hillary] Clinton said, barring a resolution on Florida and Michigan, the fight goes to convention.

“You know, you can always go to the convention. That’s what credential fights are for,” he [sic] said. “Let’s have the Democratic party go on record against seating the Michigan and Florida delegations three months before the general election? I don’t think that will happen. I think they will be seated. So that’s where we’re headed if we don’t get this worked out.”

There is an excellent discussion about the history and make-up of the Credentials Committee in this Maryland Politics Watch post, including:

“So who is the Credentials Committee? Every standing committee of the Convention has three chairs and its membership includes twenty-five party leaders/elected officials nominated by Howard Dean and 161 other members elected by the state delegations. The three chairs for the 2008 Credentials Committee are Alexis Herman, James Roosevelt Jr., and Eliseo Roques-Arroyo. None of the three donated to any of the presidential campaigns, though Alexis Herman did donate to Clinton’s Senate campaign. All three are also unaffiliated super delegates. More interesting however, is that Alexis Herman was Labor Secretary under President Clinton and Roosevelt was an Associate Commissioner in the Clinton-era Social Security Administration. Of the 25 party leaders and elected officials, three were Clinton super delegates at the time of this writing. The chairs and party leaders/elected officials will not have full control over the outcome of committee decisions, but they will have a lot of influence.”

NOTE: I’m not familiar with and can’t vouch for the Maryland Political Watch blog, but I think it’s very interesting and definitely worth a look.

— DRJ

Fisking The LAT’s Latest Fantasy Article on BiCoastal Hip Hop Feud by Chuck Pulitzer Philips

Filed under: Buffoons,Crime,Dog Trainer,Fiskings,Morons,Snarkage — WLS @ 5:08 pm

[Posted by WLS]

The lastest in a long-line of Pulitzer prize winning “fakesters” appears to be Chuck Philips of the LAT, who wittingly or unwittingly seems to have stepped in it with his latest article seeking to shine a spotlight on the “origins” of the BiCoastal Hip Hop “war” that led to the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. The reason for the article is that Philips claims to have solved the heretofore unsolved beating/shooting of Tupac Shakur outside a recording studio in New York in Nov. 1994 — two years before he was fatally wounded in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Both shootings are unsolved, but in the aftermath of the 1994 shooting Shakur blamed it on Sean “Puffy” Combs and associates at his “Bad Boy” record label.

Philips’s article says that he has now obtained heretofore undiscovered FBI “302s” — memoranda of interviews — reflecting information given to the FBI by an “informant” establishing that Combs and his associates at “Bad Boy” knew about the shooting before it happened, and were responsible for it. Philips claims this “newly discovered information,” along with “interviews of people at the studio that night,” confirm that it was Combs and his associates that were responsible for the shooting.

But it’s now being widely reported that Mr. Philips has likely been the victim of an elaborate hoax by one Mr. James Sabatino, described by Philips in his article variously as a rap “promoter,” a “fixture” in Combs’s “inner circle,” and … oh yeah, the son of a Captain in the Columbo Crime Family in Brooklyn — according to unnamed “federal authorities.” According to The Smoking Gun, Sabatino’s father describes him as “a disturbed young man who needed attention like a drug.”

But, having read through the entire piece, I have a strong suspicion that it is Mr. Sabatino that is the “informant” mentioned throughout the piece. I have a long breakdown of the article after the jump.

(more…)

Hillary Clinton Has Limbaugh To Thank

Filed under: Politics — Justin Levine @ 3:31 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

As you probably already know, Rush Limbaugh has been uging Republicans to register as Democrats in order to vote for Hillary to keep the Democratic turmoil going.

In this Time Magazine interview, Hillary essentially concedes that Limbaugh’s plan is working, and that she is grateful for it –

You know, there was a big surge in registration here in Pennsylvania. That seems to be happening in other states that are in the upcoming contests. Millions of people still remain to vote and to have their votes counted, so I think it’s exciting and I find it very positive for our party. We’re going to bring a lot of people into this race. Yesterday in Montgomery County I probably had six women tell me that they had changed their registration from Republican to Democrat to be able to vote for me, and I’m sure people are doing things to get prepared to vote for Senator Obama.

 

The Democrats’ Dilemma

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 12:27 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The biggest general election problem the Democrats face right now is that, after a nominee is selected, a significant percentage of disappointed Democrats will vote for McCain instead of the nominee:

“A sizable proportion of Democrats would vote for John McCain next November if he is matched against the candidate they do not support for the Democratic nomination. This is particularly true for Hillary Clinton supporters, more than a quarter of whom currently say they would vote for McCain if Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee.”

Who knows if this will still be true in November, but for now Gallup’s conclusion is: “Divisions are running deep” in the Democratic Party.

— DRJ

Pwn3d: Los Angeles Times Accused of Basing Story on Forged Documents — With Bonus Chuck Philips Connection

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 11:10 am

The Smoking Gun reports:

Last week’s bombshell Los Angeles Times report claiming that the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur in the lobby of a Manhattan recording studio was carried out by associates of Sean “Diddy” Combs and that the rap impresario knew of the plot beforehand was based largely on fabricated FBI reports, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The Times appears to have been hoaxed by an imprisoned con man and accomplished document forger, an audacious swindler who has created a fantasy world in which he managed hip-hop luminaries, conducted business with Combs, Shakur, Busta Rhymes, and The Notorious B.I.G., and even served as Combs’s trusted emissary to Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge” Knight during the outset of hostilities in the bloody East Coast-West Coast rap feud.

A Suge Knight connection. Interesting, given that the apparently snookered reporter in question is Chuck Philips.

Read it all. The Smoking Gun makes a very convincing case. One of the more amusing pieces of evidence: numerous words were misspelled the same way in both the allegedly forged FBI reports provided by the inmate, and the inmate’s court filings.

This is very, very big. We’ll be hearing much more about this, you can count on that.

Thanks to about a bajillion readers for the tip. Pat Riotic was first.

Is this the Final Showdown with al-Sadr?

Filed under: International,War — DRJ @ 9:54 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Monday in Iraq, al-Sadr called for nationwide civil disobedience that was viewed by some of his followers as a call to end the cease-fire. Al-Sadr’s action may have been a response to recent Iraqi government crackdowns on corruption associated with the lucrative oil facilities in Basra. During this period, the violence in Baghdad and especially in Basra has escalated.

As reported today in the New York Times, Prime Minister Maliki has now given al-Sadr and his militia 72 hours to lay down their weapons or face more severe consequences:

“A day after launching a huge operation that ignited heavy fighting in two of Iraq’s largest cities, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki gave the Shiite militias controlling the southern oil city of Basra an ultimatum on Wednesday: lay down their weapons within 72 hours or face more severe consequences.

As the fighting in Basra and Baghdad intensified on Wednesday, the American military command, speaking for the first time about the crackdown, characterized it as an Iraqi-led operation in which American-led forces were playing only an advisory role. An Iraqi hospital official said that the battle in Basra between Iraqi forces and Shiite militias led by Moktada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric, had so far claimed the lives of 40 people and wounded at least 200, figures that include militia members as well as Iraqi officers.”

There were also a few interesting tidbits deeper in the article:

“On Tuesday, Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood that is the center of the Mahdi Army’s power, was sealed off by a cordon of Iraqi troops and what appeared to be several American units.

A New York Times photographer who was able to get through the cordon found more layers of checkpoints, each one run by about two dozen heavily armed Mahdi Army fighters clad in tracksuits and T-shirts. Tires burned in the city center, gunfire echoed against shuttered stores, and teams of fighters in pickup trucks moved about brandishing machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers.

“We are doing this in reaction to the unprovoked military operations against the Mahdi Army,” said a Mahdi commander who identified himself as Abu Mortada. “The U.S., the Iraqi government and Sciri are against us,” he said, referring to a rival Shiite group whose name has changed several times, and is now known as the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, which has an armed wing called the Badr Organization.

“They are trying to finish us,” the commander said. “They want power for the Iraqi government and Sciri.”

Is this the beginning of the final showdown with al-Sadr and his militia? I don’t get a vote on this but, if I did, I would check the “Finish Them” box.

By the way, even though it will probably win him accolades in his profession, I’m not overly impressed that a New York Times photographer “got through” an Iraqi security cordon.

— DRJ

Dunphy Has More on SWAT, Bratton, and the Godfather

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:36 am

Jack Dunphy has a piece in Pajamas Media about Bratton and the SWAT changes. A taste:

Since Brattons plan was exposed, he has busied himself in denouncing anyone who dares to question the changes to the SWAT selection process, going so far as to threaten current team members with transfers if they are caught speaking out against them. Incredibly, he drew a comparison to the film The Godfather when discussing his plan for retribution against his critics. Youre all familiar with The Godfather movie he told reporters, and throughout most of the movie the Corleones are getting banged around pretty good and then Michael makes a statement that all debts will be settled. And at the end of the movie, all debts are settled in a very bloody way . . . Im more than willing to take the slings and arrows for a couple more weeks, but like Michael Corleone, Ill get my time.

Well now.

A very interesting choice of words. LAPD officers are now expected, evidently, to subscribe to Brattons very own code of omerta or risk some very unpleasant consequences. Chief Bratton may wish otherwise, but unlike members of the Mafia, police officers enjoy all the rights accorded by the First Amendment, most especially when addressing matters of public policy. Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, I can promise that any attempt to abridge those rights will be most vigorously opposed.

But in the meantime, if I see Chief Bratton carrying a violin case, Im going to run.

Like I told Robert C.J. Parry last night: it’s not personal. It’s strictly business.

But stick to your pseudonym, Jack, lest you wake up next to a horse head.

The Difference Between the Daily News and the Los Angeles Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:04 am

Daily News crime reporter quits to become an LAPD cop.

Los Angeles Times crime reporter quits to become an investigator for the federal public defender.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just saying, if it had been the other way around, you could have picked my jaw up off the floor. But this? Sounds about right.

McCain: Refusing to Pander

Filed under: 2008 Election — Patterico @ 12:02 am

John McCain on the housing crisis:

Earlier Tuesday, McCain scolded “complacent” home lenders, but eschewed the interventionist approach to the housing crisis proposed by his Democratic opponents, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois. McCain told reporters that Clinton’s $30-billion plan to aid homeowners and communities threatened by foreclosures sounded “very expensive,” and said he’d “like to know how it’s paid for.”

In a speech, McCain said he was “committed to the principle that it is not the duty of government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly, whether they are big banks or small borrowers.”

Well said.


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