Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2008

L.A. Times to Readers: You Can’t Handle the Truth! (But a Judge Can, Apparently)

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:35 pm

The truth is sometimes muddy. But clean it up too much and the result isn’t clean truth; it’s a half-truth.

The L.A. Times learned this the hard way today, when a judge rejected an inmate’s claim of innocence — based on facts that the newspaper had known, according to former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips, but deliberately chose not to publish.

And why not report the facts that the judge found so important? They were too complicated, Philips told Patterico.com, and “muddied up” the front-page story touting the inmate’s innocence.

But including facts that dispute a story’s central premise isn’t “muddying up” a story — it’s “reporting the whole truth.” And omitting such facts can’t easily be justified by “news judgment” — not when these same facts turn out to be central to a judge’s decision.

Here are the muddy facts:

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has rejected as “entirely unbelievable” the alibi of convicted murderer Waymond Anderson, whose claims of innocence were given splashy front-page treatment by former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips in January 2007. (Full disclosure: Anderson’s prosecutor is my supervisor. I have not spoken to her about the case.) Patterico.com has learned that the very facts that caused the judge to disbelieve Anderson’s alibi were known to Philips and his editors before Philips advocated Anderson’s innocence on the front page of The Times.

In a nutshell, Philips admitted to me that, at the time he wrote his original story promoting Anderson’s alibi:

  • Philips knew Anderson had contradicted his alibi in numerous tape-recorded statements to the police.

Regarding Anderson’s explanation for why he had made these statements, Philips said: “There were a lot of things he said that sounded crazy.”

  • Anderson had told Philips outlandish tales about the alleged “real killer” that Philips didn’t believe.

Specifically, Anderson said that the man who had framed him had also killed legendary rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur — and that the man had confessed these murders to Anderson in calls made while Anderson was in prison. Regarding these stories, Philips told me: “A lot of things he came up with, I didn’t believe. He had a lot of things about the Biggie murder and this and that.”

Despite these reasons to question Anderson’s credibility, Philips and his editors consciously decided not to report these facts — because, he said, they would make the story too complicated. Characters would have to be introduced, such as the “real killer” and others who had been involved. Anderson’s elaborate explanation for why he contradicted his alibi to police would have to be explained. All of this, Philips told me, “muddied up” the story too much.

But it turned out that the judge hearing Anderson’s bid for innocence was able to understand these facts very easily. In fact, they turned out to be the reason that he denied Anderson’s habeas corpus petition today. The court found it “totally incredible that the defendant would not be able to state that he was in Mississippi . . . when he was interviewed by the police after being arrested.” The judge found Anderson’s alibi unbelievable, and described Anderson as an “admitted perjurer” based on Anderson’s testimony in a deposition that I told you about last month.

Interestingly, Philips now shares the judge’s view of Anderson’s general credibility. Philips believes that Anderson “is a liar” because of accusations Anderson has since made about Philips — including a claim that Philips smuggled threatening messages to Anderson on behalf of Suge Knight. “Waymond Anderson turned out to be a huge, huge disappointment to me,” Philips told me. “All that stuff he was saying was all lies.”

But, Philips said, he still believes Anderson was innocent of the murder. “I did things for his family. I helped him out doing legal things for his case. . . . I believed he was innocent and several people I talked to believed he was innocent.”

Evidently the judge doesn’t agree.

But then, he knows the facts that L.A. Times readers were never told . . . until now.

P.S. I plan to have more details regarding my interview with Philips, on this issue and others, in future posts. Stay tuned.

‘Day Without a Gay’ Fades Away

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:40 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s Day Without a Gay event passed unnoticed in most communities. Several people interviewed for this AP article took a realistic view of the idea, noting that the day off seemed to punish employers and did little to raise awareness in the communities.

However, one supporter offered an interesting theory regarding how “coming out” on Gay Day could raise employee productivity:

“[Selisse Berry, Out and Equal's executive director] noted that only 20 states have laws to protect workers from being fired for being homosexual, making lesbians and gays reluctant to reveal themselves to co-workers in most jurisdictions.

“Constantly lying about our weekends at the water cooler or changing pronouns, that takes up so much energy that we could be putting into our jobs,” she said.”

One of my jobs at work is thinking of ways to increase productivity. Maybe I should post a notice about wasted time due to pronoun choice. Or I could get rid of the water cooler.

In the meantime, here’s my two cents of PR advice: Publicizing a day for gays and others to publicly volunteer to help their communities is a good idea. Doing it on a workday isn’t.

– DRJ

What Do You Think of Patrick Fitzgerald Now?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:39 pm

A lefty friend of mine e-mails: “Has Patrick Fitzgerald been rehabilitated in the eyes of your readership?”

Unlike many of you, I supported Patrick Fitzgerald in the prosecution of Scooter Libby. Now, I don’t expect for a moment that a single one of you has changed his mind about the Libby prosecution. Nor am I saying that the Libby situation is anywhere near as scandalous as the Blagojevich situation. Let me be clear: it isn’t. The Blagojevich scandal is one of the most outrageous situations to come along in quite some time — and Libby’s deception, while reprehensible, is nothing close.

Still: back to my friend’s question. What do you think of Patrick Fitzgerald now? Is anyone willing to concede that, just maybe, he’s not the epitome of a Crazy Out-of-Control Prosecutor?

Anyone?

L.A. County Sheriff Asks Permission to Send Deputies to Obama Inauguration at Possible Cost of $1 Million

Filed under: Crime,Morons — Patterico @ 6:25 pm

I think L.A. County can easily afford a million dollars to provide Sheriff’s Deputies for the inauguration. Don’t you?

If this actually happens, an enterprising news organization ought to get the name of every single inmate who gets an early release from L.A. County Jail during the period when the deputies are gone. You know — the inmates who are released early because we supposedly can’t afford to house them for their full sentence.

Then, the news organization could keep track of all of them and see what crimes they commit. Instant story.

Don’t thank me, L.A. Times editors. Just do the story. That would be thanks enough.

Media Matters Attacks Sean Hannity by Relying on Famous Convicted Felon

Filed under: General,Morons — Patterico @ 5:56 pm

Sure, Media Matters regularly attacks Sean Hannity. But when is the last time they did so by relying on the word of convicted felon Anthony Pellicano? From a post of theirs published today:

[D]uring the segment, Hannity compared the FBI audio tapes of Blagojevich to tapes released by Gennifer Flowers, saying, “Everything that we heard in the Gennifer Flowers tapes came true.” However, the Los Angeles Times reported on January 30, 1992:

A nationally known expert who examined a tape-recorded conversation allegedly between Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and a woman who claims to have had a long-term affair with him said the tape had been “selectively edited” and is “suspect at best.”

“If you take this tape recording at its face value, it’s misleading,” said Anthony J. Pellicano, a prominent expert on tape recordings who has testified in numerous criminal cases involving tapes.

Is this Media Matters’s idea of evidence — relying on the opinion of Anthony Pellicano??

In 1992, Anthony J. Pellicano might fairly have been described as a “prominent expert on tape recordings.” But today, in December 2008, he’s more properly described as a felon with numerous federal felony convictions for wiretapping and possessing explosives. As the “private eye to the stars,” his case has been the subject of numerous stories in several national media publications, including New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

What’s next? A searing indictment of Rush Limbaugh, complete with quotes from Rod Blagojevich? An essay on Republicans’ lack of ethics, with expert commentary from Alcee Hastings and Dan Rostenkowski?

What are these people thinking? Are the people at Media Matters completely unfamiliar with basic current affairs?

Wednesday’s Auto Bailout Update

Filed under: Economics,Government,Politics — DRJ @ 2:43 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Republicans say the automaker bailout is an agreement in peril but the White House says it’s a done deal even though they haven’t seen the fine print:

“At the White House, too, Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan told reporters at a late-morning briefing that the administration had yet to read the fine print of its “conceptual agreement” with congressional Democrats.

“We have not seen final text of legislation that we have agreed to,” he said

However, he indicated clear support, saying Bush would personally lobby Republicans and was dispatching Chief of Staff Josh Bolten to Capitol Hill to make the case.

House Republicans swiftly voiced their opposition and called for a plan that would instead provide government insurance to subsidize new private investment in the Big Three automakers, demand major labor givebacks and debt restructuring at the companies, and encourage them to declare bankruptcy.”

Agree first and details later? That’s par for the course when you’re spending someone else’s money.

– DRJ

Quote of the Day

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 11:20 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A man and his robot: “She is very patient and never complains.”

He seems happy. I’m not sure about her.

– DRJ

Jim Lindgren Looks at What Obama Knew

Filed under: Obama,Politics — DRJ @ 10:34 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Jim Lindgren at Volokh uses the Blagojevich indictment to analyze the timeline regarding what Obama knew and when he knew it. It’s important to read the whole post but I want to address this portion:

“12. On Tuesday, Dec. 8, Obama denies personal knowledge of the corrupt proposal.

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.”

As I’ve said before, as with Bill Clinton, Barack Obama’s words should be read carefully to see what he is saying and not saying. Apparently, Obama started to say that “we were not” “aware of what was happening,” but corrected himself by saying that “I was not aware of what was happening.”

That language leaves open the possibility that his staff was aware, but he personally was not. But why would Obama’s staff withhold information from him? I assume that Obama is telling the truth about not having spoken to the governor himself, since that might be easily refuted.”

From the first time I heard it, Obama’s statement that “we were not … I was not aware” struck me as legal-speak where, as Lindgren suggests, Obama denied knowledge on his part but left open the possibility that his staff knew. Clinton did it and we called it parsing. Obama does it and we call it nuance. Most lawyers do it because we are comfortable talking with the precision and jargon we’ve been taught to use. Doctors, police officers, engineers, teachers, and most professions also have a specific style and jargon. The problem here is that Obama’s current role is President, not lawyer, and lawyer-speak as President doesn’t work.

My guess is that Obama knew his staff was aware of Blagojevich’s shady dealings but since his knowledge was inconclusive or based on hearsay from his staff, he said he wasn’t “aware” of wrongdoing to a legal standard. Of course, it’s also possible that Obama was simply being evasive and this is part of his emerging pattern because he doesn’t want to admit his knowledge of or participation in shady politics.

Either way, Lindgren is right when he warns Obama it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.

– DRJ

Candidate No. 5

Filed under: Crime,Government,Politics — DRJ @ 9:47 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

ABC News reports that Jesse Jackson, Jr., is the unnamed Candidate No. 5 whose surrogates offered Gov. Blagojevich up to $1M to be appointed to Obama’s Senate seat. The report also said Jackson doesn’t know if he is Candidate No. 5 but he will agree to an FBI interview after meeting with his attorney. He indicated he is not a target of the investigation.

On Monday, Jackson met with Blagojevich for 90 minutes as part of a “highly visible campaign” in which he “touted his credentials” to succeed Obama as Senator. Afterward Jackson expressed confidence in the process the governor was using to make his choice:

“I am convinced that the governor has a very thoughtful process that he has put in place and is wrestling and weighing a number of issues in this enormous decision that he has to make,” Jackson said. “Today, I leave confident that the governor has put in place processes and that his interview process for this position is thoughtful.”

That confidence apparently evaporated overnight because Jackson was quoted yesterday as saying he was shocked by Blagojevich’s indictment and “deeply concerned” that the Senate appointment process had become tainted.

– DRJ

More Movement Towards Filibustering a Bailout of the Big Three? Not Likely

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:29 am

Via Hot Air, we learn that at the same time that Republicans are continuing to make noises about filibustering an auto industry bailout, public opinion seems to be shifting to favor one. A plurality favors a bailout by a margin of 46 to 42. Allahpundit:

Aren’t we just going to end up with the same song and dance that we went through when the House initially voted down TARP? Let’s say they filibuster it. The market will immediately tank, throwing everyone into a panic at the prospect of cascading unemployment and generating a million soundbites about how Republicans don’t care about American workers. Then they’ll go back into conference and one of two things will happen. Either they’ll table a comprehensive bailout and agree on a short-term bridge loan to get GM through the next few months so that the new Democratic Senate can revisit the issue in January, or they’ll extract some sort of mostly cosmetic concession to give McConnell cover on “avoiding in the future the same mistakes.” Tying the funds to evidence that the companies are restructuring towards long-term viability has been the White House’s sticking point all along; they’ll figure out a way to make that element of it more robust (which, to be sure, will be all to the good) and then they’ll pass it, with the GOP voting against but eschewing the filibuster this time.

Right? Does anyone seriously see Republicans rolling the dice on letting the auto industry fail in the current economic climate?

Nope. A bailout is going to happen.

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