Patterico's Pontifications

4/3/2008

The Interesting Ethics of Chuck Philips: Protecting His Own Dishonest Sources While Risking the Lives of Law Enforcement Informants

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:53 pm

As I was re-reading a recent interview of Chuck Philips, this passage caught my eye:

Philips often uses anonymous sources, referencing nothing about a source’s physical description and rarely citing just how close the source is to the story. . . . He said he has to protect his sources from death and that even a slight clue could ID them.

“But when you’re writing about a murder, some of the people who talked to me would be killed if they were identified in any way. . . . Now I’m at the point where I can give my old stories to the people I approach and say, ‘This is how I write, and this is how it will happen. I’ve never burned anybody, and I’m not gonna burn you.'”

Philips has “never burned anybody,” eh? Well, this Randall Sullivan article says different.

Sullivan describes how an informant named “Psycho Mike” wore a wire for the FBI, trying to get Amir Muhammad to make incriminating statements about the murder of Biggie Smalls.

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.” . . .

[T]he Times’ decision to reveal the informant’s street name was, [investigator Sergio Robleto] believes, like “signing his death warrant.” Within days of the article’s publication, Robleto says, Bloods gang members found Psycho Mike’s secret location, roughed him up on the street and promised to come back later and “take care of [him] for good.” He disappeared immediately after this incident . . . ..

The message is clear. If you’re Chuck Philips’s source, you’re protected — even if you give him forged documents. But if you’re a law enforcement informant, then to hell with you.

10 Responses to “The Interesting Ethics of Chuck Philips: Protecting His Own Dishonest Sources While Risking the Lives of Law Enforcement Informants”

  1. Also disturbing – who “leaked” word of the FBI investigation to Chuck Philips? And not just a general leak, but an actual ID.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  2. Chuck is going fight to maintain his integrity to the last drop of some informant’s blood.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  3. Two things here, #1 is a nit. In order to keep this important article with the others, it needs to also get tucked into the Dog Trainer category. #2, in light of what is written above, I am no longer moved by the declaration “Someone whose opinion I trust says Philips is a good guy. I’m willing to give him every benefit of the doubt”.

    rhodeymark (923596)

  4. Sorry if my tone was snippy – I hope you know I am a fan of P’sPs.

    rhodeymark (923596)

  5. Even good and discerning people can at times make mistaken judgments of others. Philips could be a very smooth con-man, realistically faking sincerity but with ethics that make Michael Hiltzik look like Mother Teresa.

    Or Perhaps Philips is like the Wizard of Oz: A very good man, but a very bad wizard (reporter).

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  6. Excuse me, but who at the LATimes has any integrity? They can’t even get Brett Favre’s retirement right! Brett Farve Laughs Off LATimes Specious Article About Him Returning to the NFL

    PCD (5ebd0e)

  7. Or, he’s just another Woodward/Bernstein wannabe
    who is a full-fledged POS.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  8. Isn’t the point of a reporter’s confidentiality privilege to convince people to come forward with information for the public good? In this case, it looks like Philips put his narcissistic desire for a scoop ahead of everything, including the point of the privilege.

    DRJ (a431ca)

  9. Re:

    Philips often uses anonymous imaginary sources,

    There. Fixed it.

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (88bf29)

  10. AWK! The strikethrough doesn’t work. I’ve been had by the comment form. It’s a conspiracy!

    Kevin R.C. O'Brien (88bf29)


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