Help me puzzle through this, will you? It seems to me that the editors of the L.A. Times have affirmatively said, not just that Chuck Philips got duped by some phony documents, but that they don’t believe several sources that Chuck Philips said were reliable.
Here’s how it plays out. Chuck Philips writes an article claiming that James Sabatino and two other people planned an attack on Tupac Shakur in 1994. (The article is now retracted and scrubbed from the paper’s website, but still available here.)
Before The Smoking Gun showed that Philips had relied on forged FBI documents, Philips had boasted in more than one forum that the purported FBI documents merely supported what multiple witnesses had already told him. For instance, in this interview Philips said:
The main thing I’m trying to say is I didn’t base my story on that informant [mentioned in the FBI documents]. I based this story on my own reporting. We came up on those documents later after I was pretty much sure of what happened. . . . So I mean, legally something like that is very good to have. And it confirms a lot of the stuff that’s in my story, that document. But I had reported my own story based on the people I believe were in involved.
And in a chat transcript that the paper has scrubbed from the site, Philips said:
as to the informant, i have verified that he was at the quad that night. his infomation corroborted what i had already learned from other source i know to be reliable
He also said:
the story says james sabatino told mr. combs in advance. my sources had direct knowledge of that. they were not passing on hearsay.
That’s sources — plural. Presumably, Sabatino is not one of those sources, unless Philips lied in his article when he said: “Sabatino declined to comment.”
But now look at what the retraction says:
The Times now believes that Sabatino fabricated the FBI reports and concocted his role in the assault as well as his supposed relationships with Combs, Rosemond and Agnant. . . . The Times also reported that Sabatino told Combs in advance that Shakur was going to be attacked. The Times now believes that Sabatino had no involvement in the attack and that he never spoke to Combs about it.
The editors are not just saying they can no longer prove Sabatino wasn’t involved. They are saying that they positively believe he had no involvement.
The editors say this, despite Philips’s claims that his proof went beyond the documents, and included interviews with multiple sources whom he believed were reliable.
Do you understand what I’m saying? The paper thinks his other proof is no proof at all — and that Philips’s multiple sources a) lied or b) didn’t exist.
If I’m wrong, please explain to me where I’m wrong.
I continue to believe we deserve an explanation. I’d leave a comment at the Readers’ Rep blog, except it wouldn’t get published. I’d write her, except I can’t imagine I’d be told anything meaningful.
I think they’re trying to sweep this under the rug, folks.
But, even under the rug, we can still smell it.