I have sent the following e-mail to L.A. Times reporter Robin Abcarian today:
Last month I wrote you to ask if you would release your notes of your conversation with James O’Keefe for your article entitled, “Anti-abortion movement gets a new media twist?” published on April 26th, 2009. As you no doubt remember, James Rainey recently wrote a column citing your interview, in which Rainey made this statement:
So what sort of creature does this make O’Keefe? I don’t disagree with his observation in a previous interview with The Times that he follows the mold of filmmaker Michael Moore, using confrontation to get at his version of the truth.
Mr. O’Keefe absolutely denies that Mr. Rainey accurately set forth the context of this quote. He says that he never claimed that he followed the mold of Moore, using confrontation to “get at his version of the truth.”
When I asked you about this last month, you told me that Mr. O’Keefe could contact you if he felt that he had been misquoted. Mr. O’Keefe tells me that on December 1, he did indeed ask to see your notes — and that you promised to send him the quote the following day, December 2. Mr. O’Keefe tells me that you did not pass along the quote as you claimed you would. On December 7, Mr. O’Keefe tells me, he again asked you for your notes, to verify what he said about Michael Moore. To my knowledge, he has still not received the notes, or even your e-mailed statement regarding what the notes say.
This is an issue of whether The Times will comply with the same standards that Mr. Rainey claims are applicable to Mr. O’Keefe. Mr. Rainey’s column claimed that, because ACORN claimed that O’Keefe had taken their employees’ quotes out of context, O’Keefe needed to release all of his underlying source material to comply with journalistic principles. O’Keefe has released the full audio of his Los Angeles ACORN visit. Now O’Keefe claims that Mr. Rainey has taken his quotes out of context. By Mr. Rainey’s standards, the L.A. Times should release the underlying source material that relates to the quote Mr. Rainey claims O’Keefe gave you.
Sometime in the next 3-4 days I plan to write a year-end review of the Los Angeles Times. In the past, my year-end reviews have received links from numerous high-traffic blogs and are read by tens of thousands of readers. Rainey’s treatment of the ACORN scandal will likely play a prominent role in my upcoming piece.
As it stands, your paper appears to be refusing through inaction to substantiate the quote that Mr. O’Keefe denies having made. Can you tell me whether you plan to release your notes? All you would need to do is scan them in and send me the image. This way, you could comply with the standards that your media critic has deemed applicable to Mr. O’Keefe: namely, releasing source material when an interviewee claims that he has been misquoted or quoted out of context.
I look forward to your response.
The background on this is here.
I’ll let you know what I hear back.