Patterico's Pontifications

11/16/2014

The Dog Trainer Finally Acknowledges Grubergate

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — JVW @ 4:47 pm

[guest post by JVW]

The Los Angeles Times (affectionately known here as the Dog Trainer; this is Patterico’s first recorded use of the term for you site historians) has just this afternoon finally deigned to mention Jonathan Gruber’s interesting week:

MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, made headlines recently for telling the truth or, to be more specific, telling the truth as he sees it.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage and basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass,” Gruber said of “Obamacare,” in an unearthed 2013 video that went viral last week.

Transparency is generally the enemy of elites who believe in an end-justifies- the-means mentality. The general public, meanwhile, is supposed to sit quietly in the corner while the big boys talk and figure out what to do.

You can find this piece on the website in — um, let me see. . .

[checking]

. . . in the sports section, as the introduction to an opinion piece concerning the lack of transparency in the NFL.

Oh, and it’s an opinion piece that they picked up from a writer named John McMullan at a blog called SportsNetwork.com.

But don’t let it be said that the Gruber scandal went unremarked upon on the pages (well, webpages at least) of the Los Angeles Times.

- JVW

5/15/2013

L.A. Times’s Michael Hiltzik: Hooray for the IRS’s Targeting of Tea Party Groups!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Scum — Patterico @ 7:35 am

The IRS’s targeting of conservative groups has at least one unabashed fan: Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times. As evidence mounts that the IRS fast-tracked applications by left-leaning organizations while erecting burdensome obstacles for conservatives, Hiltzik cheers from the sidelines, praising the IRS and placing the word “scandal” in scare quotes:

It’s strange how “scandal” gets defined these days in Washington. At the moment, everyone is screaming about the “scandal” of the Internal Revenue Service scrutinizing conservative nonprofits before granting them tax-exempt status.

Here are the genuine scandals in this affair: Political organizations are being allowed to masquerade as charities to avoid taxes and keep their donors secret, and the IRS has allowed them to do this for years.

. . .

It’s about time the IRS subjected all of these outfits to scrutiny. The agency’s inaction has served the purposes of donors and political organizations on both sides of the aisle, and contributed to the explosive infection of the electoral process by big money from individuals and corporations.

The problem, as Hiltzik well knows (but almost entirely ignores), is that the IRS did not treat “both sides of the aisle” equally. A USA Today story describes how, just before the new anti-Tea Party policy went into effect, an Illinois Tea Party organization had its application speedily approved. But, the story goes on to explain:

That was the month before the Internal Revenue Service started singling out Tea Party groups for special treatment. There wouldn’t be another Tea Party application approved for 27 months.

In that time, the IRS approved perhaps dozens of applications from similar liberal and progressive groups, a USA TODAY review of IRS data shows.

As applications from conservative groups sat in limbo, groups with liberal-sounding names had their applications approved in as little as nine months.

. . . .

Like the Tea Party groups, the liberal groups sought recognition as social welfare groups under Section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, based on activities like “citizen participation” or “voter education and registration.”

The Inspector General’s report is now available, and it confirms USA Today‘s conclusion that the IRS’s criteria do not appear to have been impartial:

[T]he criteria developed by the Determinations Unit gives the appearance that the IRS is not impartial in conducting its mission. The criteria focused narrowly on the names and policy positions of organizations instead of tax-exempt laws and Treasury Regulations.

The report has a chart that shows criteria in June 2011 for increased scrutiny:

The harshest criticism Hiltzik can muster for these one-sided criteria is that they provide “too coarse a screen.” He does not seem at all troubled by the fact that the only names singled out for extra scrutiny were names associated with conservative principles such as limited government and lower taxes. In fact, he implies — without a scrap of evidence and in contradiction to the IG report and virtually every extant news article to have examined the subject — that the criteria were even-handed and that we are hearing only about the extra burdens placed on one side.

The bottom line is that we live in an America where 501(c)’s run by, say, convicted bomber and leftist serial partisan harasser Brett Kimberlin are put on the fast track, whereas 501(c)’s that are concerned with the expansion of government are delayed to the point of absurdity. And Michael Hiltzik thinks that is just peachy.

Hiltzik is not a stupid man, just a dishonest one. He knows full well that the problem with the IRS’s actions is the disparate treatment given conservatives and leftists. If you want absolute proof that Hiltzik’s views are partisan hackery as opposed to a genuine concern over dirty money in politics, you need only read this passage:

[O]nce again, now that the agency has tried to regulate, the regulated parties have blown its efforts up into a “scandal.” It’s amusing to reflect that some politicians making hay over this are the same people who contend that we don’t need more regulations, we just need to enforce the ones we have. (Examples: gun control and banking regulation.) Here’s a case where the IRS is trying to enforce regulations that Congress enacted, and it’s still somehow doing the wrong thing.

Keep that in mind when you hear politicians — and they’re not exclusively Republicans — grandstanding about how the IRS actions are “chilling” or “un-American.” It turns out that none of the “targeted” groups actually was denied C4 status.

Oh! Well, if they weren’t denied C4 status, then all is well!

Except that, as the IG report details:

[T]he applications for those organizations that were identified for processing by the team of specialists experienced significant delays and requests for unnecessary information.

And again, these delays and burdensome and unnecessary requests fell primarily (if not exclusively) on one side of the aisle, and caused many conservatives to give up on obtaining tax-exempt status for their group.

Apparently Michael Hiltzik thinks that it would be OK to have a four-hour line for Republicans at the DMV, while “progressives” speed through an express line. Hey, no Republicans were denied licenses, were they?

We probably should apply greater scrutiny to tax-exempt organizations generally. I’d be fine with abolishing such organizations entirely. Indeed, the fact that taxpayers subsidize political activity is what gives government the power to favor one side over another.

But any extra scrutiny needs to be even-handed, and that is the problem that Hiltzik deliberately overlooks.

Memo to Hiltzik: the IRS itself has apologized and said that their targeting of conservatives was inappropriate. How much of a hack do you have to be to defend them after they admitted what they did was wrong?

Boy, it sure would be awful if the Koch brothers bought the L.A. Times and folks like Michael Hiltzik quit in a huff. How could we survive without utter partisan nonsense like this in the pages of our hometown newspaper?

3/18/2013

Kochs to Buy LAT?

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 8:32 pm

Ace, on the rumors floating about that the Koch brothers are considering buying the L.A. Times:

If they buy this thing, I’d suggest they ask Mickey Kaus and Patrick Frey for some critiques of the paper as it currently stands.

Thanks for the mention. I’ll get to my critique, but let me clear my throat and have a sip of water first.

Ahem. OK, I’m ready.

My critique is as follows: take a wrecking ball to the place.

You’re welcome.

2/25/2013

L.A. Times Scares Readers Re Those Awful Sequestration Non-Cut “Cuts”

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:48 am

The top article on the L.A. Times web page is a scare story about how awfully awfully terrible those horrible sequester “cuts” (which are not really cuts) will be:

When it comes to the nation’s debt, payback time might be here.

Years of low tax rates and rising federal spending, amplified by the devastating economic effect of the Great Recession, have driven the U.S. borrowing tab to more than $16 trillion from less than $1 trillion in 1981.

Deficit reduction has become the dominant issue in Washington. The first major tax increase since 1993 took place last month. And large automatic spending cuts — $1.2 trillion over the next decade — are set to kick in Friday.

Oh, the drama. Why not just say it’s $200 quintillion over 30 years? Ginormous “cuts” in the future that will never happen are a fiction, and the L.A. Times treats them like fact. But it’s a joke. You can’t control anything past this year, and Marc Thiessen explains what’s really going on this year:

The problem with the sequester is not the amount of cuts it requires. Cuts of $85 billion this year is about 2 percent of our $3.5 trillion federal budget, or about nine days of federal spending. Even after the sequester, we will still spend about $15 billion more this year than we did in last year. The sequester does not actually “cut” spending — it simply slows its growth.

At no point does the L.A. Times story put the “cuts” in their proper context — that they aren’t even cuts from last year’s spending. Instead, it’s Scare City:

In addition, government officials said the looming spending cuts would affect most federal programs. The effect would be widespread, hitting state and local programs that depend on federal aid and businesses with government contracts.

But some would directly affect the general public, with the furloughing of government workers leading to fewer food safety inspections, reduced hours at national parks and longer waits at airports.

For example, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the $600-million cut facing the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2013 budget would force the agency to furlough the “vast majority” of its 47,000 employees for at least one day every two-week pay period, reducing staffing at airports and forcing the closure of 100 small air traffic control towers starting around April 1.

“This is very painful for us because it involves our employees, but it’s going to be very painful for the flying public,” LaHood told reporters Friday.

Also, we’re told, the federal government spending less is somehow supposed to hurt the economy:

But Democrats and Republicans, along with many analysts, said the indiscriminate nature of the budget cuts make them a bad move right now when the economy still is struggling to grow.

This is how people stay “informed.” By reading garbage like this.

We have to change it, somehow.

1/10/2013

Now You Tell Us™ (Part 4): Obama Not Getting Big Money Out of Politics As He Promised To Do

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:21 am

(Note: “Now You Tell Us”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s disclosure of negative information about Barack Obama that didn’t come out during the election.)

Between the election and the inauguration is the traditional time for the L.A. Times to reveal negative facts about Barack Obama that many of us already knew, but that the electorate at large evidently did not. Today example, from this morning’s L.A. Times web page:

The beginning of the story:

Even before Barack Obama was sworn in as president the first time, he touted his efforts to “change business as usual in Washington” by setting strict rules for his inauguration: No corporate donations were allowed; individuals could give only $50,000.

This time, Obama’s inaugural committee is seeking million-dollar contributions from corporations and offering perks in return, such as tickets to the official ball. The six companies that have given so far include AT&T, Microsoft and Financial Innovations, a marketing company that received $15.7 million to produce merchandise for Obama’s reelection campaign and is the official vendor for the inauguration. The committee has put no limit on how much individuals can give.

The relaxed rules reflect how Obama has largely dropped his efforts to curb the role of money in politics, a cause he once vowed to make central to his presidency.

It’s OK to say . . . now that he’s safely elected.

(Entries from 2008 found here, here, and here.)

1/5/2013

L.A. Times Cites Claim by Pro-Gun Control Group As If It Came From Some Neutral “Policy Center” on Guns

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:53 am

The L.A. Times has a piece titled Tough gun control laws linked to lower death rates. The piece touts the findings from a “San Francisco-based policy center on gun control laws”:

A San Francisco-based policy center on gun control laws has produced a report that says states with strict gun laws have the lowest gun-related death rates. In contrast, it reports, states with the highest per capita gun death rates have “weak” gun laws.

The study by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence is touted by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) as support for his own legislation tightening California’s current assault weapon ban. The bill, SB47, would prohibit semiautomatic weapons from having devices that allow them to carry high-capacity magazines or easily be reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition. A similar version of the bill failed to pass in 2012.

I found this a rather eye-opening claim, since it’s pretty well accepted that gun control laws are not proven to work, and that gun violence tends to be higher in places with stricter gun control laws. As this piece at the Daily Caller explains:

The main problem with gun-control laws is that they don’t work. Florida State University criminology professor Gary Kleck, a political liberal and one-time supporter of gun-control laws, has been studying guns and their effect on violence and crime since 1976. What he’s found is that gun-control laws have no net effect on violence or crime rates, because the benefits of widespread gun ownership cancel out the costs.

Indeed.

Which made me curious about this “San Francisco-based policy center on gun control laws.” Just who are these people, and why do we care about their claims as to the efficacy of gun control laws? The L.A. Times piece repeatedly refers to the the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence as “the law center”:

“It is a fact that strong gun laws work and weak laws result in the loss of innocent lives,” Yee said.

Yee notes that the law center cited low per-capita gun death rates in Hawaii, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut — states that the law center identified as having some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

He failed to mention the law center also included California on its list of states with the strongest gun control laws and lowest gun-releated deaths. The center declares California has the toughest gun control laws in the nation and gives the state an “A minus” on its report card, a designation shared only with New Jersey and Massachussetts.

The highest per-capita gun death rates were in Alaska, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi — states that the law center said have weak gun control laws.

The center was formed by Bay area lawyers in 1993 following an assault weapon rampage at a San Francisco law office that ended with 10 people dead and six wounded.

One thing that is not mentioned: whether this “law center” or “San Francisco-based policy center on gun control laws” has a point of view. Is it fair to assume that an organization whose title is about preventing gun violence is necessarily pro gun control? I don’t think it is. I am all in favor or preventing gun violence, but I am not a fan of gun control for law-abiding citizens.

Without a clear statement that this is a pro gun control group, the reader is left with the notion that, perhaps, this “law center” is simply devoted to doing research, and following the facts wherever they lead.

Yeah, not quite.

I’ll do the work the L.A. Times refuses to do.

The web site for the “law center” is at http://smartgunlaws.org/. Here is their logo:

Here is their about page.

Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Legal Community Against Violence) is the only national law center focused on providing comprehensive legal expertise in support of gun violence prevention and the promotion of smart gun laws that save lives.

Under the heading “What We Do” there is this passage:

Accessible, accurate, online information – We provide extensive, in-depth summaries of federal, state, and local firearm laws and policies. The most comprehensive resource for information on U.S. firearms regulation, we supply the foremost information and analysis on the Second Amendment, as well as detailed statistics, study findings, and polling in support of strong gun regulation.

They also boast about influencing the media:

Media – Journalists trust us to supply them the legal background on gun policy issues and the legal aspects of the gun policy debate. In turn, we inject legal expertise into the media’s coverage of public policy debates concerning gun violence. Using interviews, op-eds and press releases, we contribute the legal perspective, emphasizing that effective gun laws enhance public safety.

If you’re starting to get the idea that they’re in favor of gun laws, you have demonstrated a keen ability to pick up on subtle clues.

This is certainly the organization to which we should all turn for unbiased information about whether gun control laws work. And hey, let’s not call them a “gun control advocacy group.” Let’s just call them a “policy center” or a “law center,” to make them sound neutral. After all, just because they say they’re for gun control doesn’t necessarily mean they have a point of view that makes them biased, right?

My dear Watson, the game’s afoot! because there’s more.

How does this “law center” feel about the Second Amendment and the Heller decision? Why, they believe that Heller was a “radical shift” in interpreting the Second Amendment:

Second Amendment litigation has become a critical battleground since the U.S. Supreme Court held, in District of Columbia v. Heller, that the Amendment guarantees an individual right to possess a firearm in the home for self-defense. This decision created a radical shift in the meaning of the Second Amendment, but it doesn’t prevent smart gun regulations. In fact, since Heller, courts nationwide have found a wide variety of firearms laws constitutional because they can help prevent gun deaths, injuries, and crimes in communities across the country.

A related page re-emphasizes the organization’s view that Heller was “unquestionably a radical decision.” Another related page describes Heller as a “radical departure from longstanding Second Amendment case law,” and tells the reader about the organization’s view of its role vis-a-vis the Second Amendment:

As the nation’s only organization devoted exclusively to providing legal assistance in support of gun violence prevention, LCAV is actively involved in supporting state and local governments’ defense of Second Amendment litigation, educating courts, governments, and the public about the meaning of the Second Amendment, and developing common sense gun violence prevention legislation that complies with the Heller decision.

And then there’s the page on studies, which is what initially brought me to the web site. Here is the page. And here is the smoking gun (thank you for noticing!) that shows that this organization’s view of control laws is not news:

Do gun laws work?

Many types of gun laws are effective at reducing gun deaths and injuries, keeping guns away from criminals and other prohibited people, and fighting illegal gun trafficking. The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tracks important studies proving that smart laws can and do work to prevent gun violence. Our publications offer in-depth analysis of significant trends in firearms laws and policies nationwide.

So, you track studies showing that gun control laws work.

What about the studies that show they don’t?

See, even a pro gun control group could, in theory, decide to cover all studies regardless of which way they come out. But they just told you that they don’t do that. They cover studies that go their way. Period.

So basically, the L.A. Times is reporting that a pro gun control group believes gun control works. Whoop de do. But they make it sound like news — because they don’t tell you that the group is a pro gun control group.

This is dishonest. It’s why conservatives increasingly see news media outlets like this as propaganda organs.

As I said in my piece on New Year’s Resolutions, if you subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, you are subsidizing this kind of disinformation. If you subscribe to Patterico, or buy from the Amazon widget in the sidebar, you are participating in the correction of disinformation. Which do you want to support? Information or disinformation? The choice is yours. It’s also pretty obvious.

Stop giving these people money. Cancel your subscription to the L.A. Times today. It’s never too late.

1/1/2013

The Power of the Jump™: The Overaggressive Cops Who Shot the Handcuffed Guy on the Ground

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:04 pm

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

I have not written a “The Power of the Jump”™ piece since 2010, but it’s time to resurrect it. The main page of the Los Angeles Times recently featured the following story:

“was shot when officers” . . . dot dot dot. Gee, what comes after that phrase? Here it is, complete with extra space and missing period — and relevant facts:

A man who was fatally shot by a Moreno Valley police officer while lying on the ground handcuffed has been identified as an 18-year-old Ontario resident

Authorities on Saturday said Lamon Khiry Haslip, 18, of Ontario, was shot when officers . . .

Here’s where the story broke on the front page. If you click, through, you see the rest of the sentence:

. . . noticed that he had a handgun.

There’s more:

At the time, Haslip was lying on the ground and handcuffed, but officers said that he had rolled on his side and one “officer backed away from the subject and announced that the subject had a gun,” according to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

. . .

When the officer attempted to stop the vehicle, Haslip allegedly attempted to flee on foot. The officer captured Haslip and placed him in handcuffs on the ground, police said.

A second officer arrived just before the shooting. The officers reported finding a gun in Haslip’s possession.

Studies show most people don’t click through from the Internet’s front page (or turn to the back pages from the front page of the increasingly irrelevant print edition).

This is how editors gin up outrage where none (or little) would exist — if they told you the whole story up front.

Enjoy . . . the Power of the Jump.™

11/13/2012

L.A. Times Editors Have News Pages Push Theory That the Voters Have Rejected the Tea Party

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 7:41 am

Why did Republicans lose? Republicans can debate that all they like, but the L.A. Times news editors have decided the only theory worth mentioning is that it’s the fault of the Tea Party:

As a subdued John A. Boehner started to lay the groundwork for compromise with President Obama to avert a year-end tax and spending crisis, the House speaker also began a delicate dance around the deep divisions in the Republican Party.

As Congress returns Tuesday, the Ohio Republican must contend with the tea party wing, which helped the GOP retain the House majority as many conservatives won reelection, but which also contributed to its losses in the Senate.

Republican leaders are reevaluating their relationship with the tea party, a political marriage that has fueled gridlock and, some believe, played a role in the GOP’s dismal outcome at the polls.

Some others believe that Romney was not a strong enough candidate and didn’t articulate a Tea Party message strongly enough. But that message does not appear in the story. “Some” might be right and “some others” might be wrong. But it is not for news editors to decide — any more than it is their place to conclude that voters want a deal that is the opposite of what the Tea Party wants:

“The president and his team have made clear they believe his reelection is a mandate for his tax plan,” Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans on a conference call after the election. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is not the case.”

On the call, Boehner characterized his House majority as “the line of defense” against the Obama administration, according to a GOP source who was not authorized to discuss internal party matters publicly.

“For the next two years, that will continue to be our role,” Boehner said.

This is the complicated courtship the chain-smoking speaker must undertake in the next 50 days as he attempts to satisfy his right wing while meeting Obama across the aisle for the deal that voters — and the stock market — have signaled they want.

Why couldn’t we say that the voters signaled that they wanted to hold the line by re-electing a Republican majority in the House?

Again, people can debate these issues, but having them decided as a matter of Conventional Wisdom and articulated on news pages (as opposed to opinion pages) is wrong. We have to fight against that mentality and point it out when we see it.

9/25/2012

James Rainey: You Should *Thank* The L.A. Times for Withholding the Khalidi Tape

Filed under: 2012 Election,Dog Trainer,General,Obama — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

James Rainey says we should be thanking the L.A. Times for withholding the Khalidi tape — because if they hadn’t promised to do so, we never would have heard about it in the first place:

The latest resurrection of the Khalidi video mythology came this week courtesy of Breitbart.com. The website on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for a copy of the “Khalidi tape” — which the right-wing site speculates will lay bare the ugly back story of Obama’s disdain of Israel, his “sacrifice” of Free Speech, and his effusive support of Mideast radicals.

. . . .

So why couldn’t the newspaper simply release the video, along with the story? This is where the tempest, which began four years ago, continues to this day.

The misunderstanding stems from one camp’s unwillingness to hear, or acknowledge, some essential truths about the way journalists do their jobs. Wallsten, like every other honest reporter out there battling for information, must build relationships with sources.

Every conversation about a piece of information becomes a transaction. For many sources who share previously confidential information, their threshold for divulging the secret is that their identity be shrouded. That also means keeping confidential any details, regarding the exchange of information, that might tend to divulge the source’s identity.

In the case of the Khalidi video, the unnamed source agreed to share the illuminating bit of video evidence with Wallsten, but only with the understanding that the reporter could not reproduce or rebroadcast the images. The journalist had to make a decision: Do I agree to that condition and get to see evidence that no other reporter has seen of Obama meeting with Palestinian Americans? Or do I insist on a full public release of the video, with the likely outcome that the source would share nothing?

Wallsten pushed for the release of the video but when the source would not agree, Wallsten agreed to accept more limited access to the recording. He agreed not to reveal his source nor share the video with anyone else.

The net result: The world got a story that showed Obama the political operator, sliding between two opposite and highly contentious worlds. The audience did not get to view the video, but it got far more than it had without The Times’ reporting. That’s the nature of some journalistic negotiations; giving up the perfect to obtain the very good.

That’s fine, as far as it goes. But there are some other steps that could be taken, and I pointed them out in November 2008, just before the last presidential election:

I’m at a loss as to why editors can’t take simple steps that (as far as we know) are not precluded by the promise to the source. They could:

  • Prepare and release a transcript.
  • Go back to the source and ask permission to release the tape now.
  • View the tape again to see if Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were present (as has been rumored) — and if they were, publish a story setting forth the details of their interaction, if any, with Senator Obama.
  • View the tape again to see whether Senator Obama is shown on tape during any of the more controversial statements — and if he was, describe his reaction.

Promises to withhold source material, while they may be necessary for a story, should be disfavored. If they’re given, editors should give them the narrowest possible reasonable interpretation.

Instead, editors seem determined to construe their promises more broadly than even their source contemplated. They haven’t said they promised not to release a transcript, for example. So why haven’t they?

Do me a favor and help me ask James Rainey for a response as to why these things couldn’t be done. He decided to opine, so he can’t really refuse to answer on the grounds that it’s someone else’s story.

These are fair questions. Could you answer them, Mr. Rainey?

Rainey can be contacted at james.rainey@latimes.com and is on twitter at http://twitter.com/latimesrainey. (I am on Twitter at http://twitter.com/patterico. Follow me if you haven’t already!)

Thanks to dana.

P.S. I will happily publish any missive sent to Rainey, along with his response, if any.

8/10/2012

Former L.A. Times Reporter Chuck Philips Threatens a Baseless Copyright Lawsuit Against Patterico In Attempt to Get Embarrassing Letters Removed from the Internet

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Scum — Patterico @ 7:51 am

Is disgraced former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips trying to use specious legal claims and toothless workplace threats to wipe evidence of his biased reporting off of the Internet?

You be the judge.

I received this over a week ago:

Dear Sir:

Please be aware that your reproduction of the handwritten or typed letters of Chuck Philips to individuals violates his copyright and trademark. Violation of Mr. Philips’ copyright and trademark can head to fines in excess of 100,00 per instance.

As a courtesy, we will give you 72 hours to remove this material from your website. I have advised Mr. Philips to take legal action against you and your website should you not cease and desist within this time frame.

Cordially yours,

AC Carlson

“In excess of 100,00″ — wow, that sounds like a lot! It would sound like even more if there were three zeroes after the comma, the way one normally writes numbers.

So what is this about? The “cordial” Mr. Carlson doesn’t say, but I believe the posts he is referring to are here and here.

In brief, Mr. Philips was reporting about criminal cases against (now convicted criminal) Anthony Pellicano for the Los Angeles Times. Philips has always seemed unnaturally friendly to Mr. Pellicano, and the letters — written to prison inmates who were potential witnesses — seemed to suggest story lines that would benefit Mr. Pellicano. In other words, Philips did not write the inmates to ask: “What happened?” Instead, he wrote letters that set out various scenarios that would be helpful to Pellicano’s defense, and asked the inmates, “Is that what happened?”

In one letter, Philips presented an inmate with a scenario of misconduct by FBI agents who had conducted a search of Pellicano’s office, and reminded the inmate that the agents were “the same officials who charged and prosecuted your case.” He told the inmate that “[i]t is obvious to me that the government is not being candid” and opined that Pellicano’s rights had been violated. Philips told the inmate that he believed the inmate’s recollection could “sink this case” against Pellicano.

Just another day at your always objective Big Media corporation!

You can read the letters at the links. (Yes, more than 72 hours later, they are still there.)

In short, Philips acted as a partisan advocate for Pellicano, rather than as an objective reporter.

And at the same time, he was reporting on Pellicano’s case for the Los Angeles Times.

I broke the story of Philips’s astoundingly biased reporting in the posts linked above. If Philips had not already been fired, one wonders if these posts would have resulted in the same action.

Are we truly to believe that Philips wants to retain the right to publish these letters on his own? Or is he using copyright to try to hide letters that are professionally embarrassing to him, because they reveal how he operates as a journalist? The answer to that rather rhetorical question comes in a follow-up that Carlson sent to my lawyer Ron Coleman:

Please be advised that, moreover, as a matter of ethics, your publication of these letters by the author may interfere with the prosecution of ongoing criminal cases in New York, adversely impacting these prosecutions. We certainly hope that an individual who associates himself with the DA’s office in law enforcement would be aware of the untoward consequences of his actions and show appropriate judgment. It appears, at the very least, unseemly for an individual associated with law enforcement to be involved in the dissemination of this sort of prejudicial information. In this connection, it may be of some assistance for your client to review the ongoing cases of the US v. James Rosemond of which Mr. Frey should be aware, given his stated expertise. Certainly your client would not want to interfere with this prosecution. We will assume that now that we have made you aware of these ethical issues, your client will remove these materials as a matter of prudent judgment and so further investigation and complaint will not be necessary.

Ah, the old workplace threat! Are Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin behind this?

For the record, I have received absolutely no contact from any prosecutor asking me to take down the posts with Philips’s letters, nor can I imagine why they would. Also, for the record, everything I say on this site is said as a private citizen. The disclaimer is over there on the right sidebar, right under that Amazon widget.

There is no ethical issue. What there is, is a thuggish attempt to use baseless legal threats and threats to complain to my workplace — all to force me to remove posts that show Philips was trying to push a pro-Pellicano story line while he was writing for the Los Angeles Times.

How big a story is this going to become? I guess we’ll see, won’t we?

In the meantime, my thanks to my lawyer Ron Coleman, who always has my back. You can read his entire exchange with Mr. Carlson here.

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