Patterico's Pontifications


Article: “Scandal Erupts at the L.A. Times”

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 10:57 am

When the L.A. Times‘s Chuck Philips covered the Biggie Smalls civil trial, I was amazed at some of the reporting I saw. One example stands out in my mind: an article trumpeted the fact that a witness worried about gang retaliation was — gasp! — recanting! Can you believe it?!

The article made it sound like this was the end of the plaintiffs’ case, when it was obvious that witnesses in such a situation would often recant. This and other articles seemed quite biased against the plaintiffs.

I was very interested because I had read Randall Sullivan’s book LAbyrinth and had written this post about it. But I didn’t have the time or energy to write about the coverage of the Smalls civil trial while it was happening. I made a few comments to my wife about it, and left it at that.

Luckily, Sullivan has continued to cover it extensively, as noted in a fascinating article titled Scandal Erupts at the L.A. Times by Jan Golab. It offers a possible explanation for the biased reporting — one which, if true, is an explosive allegation.

UPDATE: Michael Hiltzik, a friend of Philips’s, says that I should have said in this post that the allegation is based on the word of the recanting witness. It’s an odd complaint by Hiltzik. I didn’t say in this post what the allegation was or to whom it related, so you have to read the linked story to learn those details — and you would have inevitably learned the fact that Hiltzik thinks I’m trying to hide.

I do allude to this post in my 2005 Year in Review post, where I have a brief mention of what the allegation is — but I still don’t say the name of the reporter to whom it relates. You still wouldn’t know that unless you read the link (or read Hiltzik’s post about it, since he names the person).

18 Responses to “Article: “Scandal Erupts at the L.A. Times””

  1. Thanks for this link, what a great article.

    I followed this story closely for years… I’m a former (cop) partner of Dave Mack & worked at Rampart, know many of the players.

    I’ve always marvelled at how this story (& all the related stories) got so twisted and how crappy were the investigations & the reporting.

    I always assumed the LA Times was just playing their usual “all cops are dirty bastards” agenda in reporting the Rampart “scandal”. In fact the “scandal” the LA Times covered was barely a scandel at all– while the real scandal (Perez, Mack, Gaines, & their shenanigans) was ignored. (Dang, I wish Patterico was around back then!)

    Golab makes a good case that the Times had more going on than just their everyday hate-all-police bias.

    Is there ANY hope that the “new” Times will make things right? Oh, who am I fooling.

    Anonymous (bd6bf9)

  2. I smell a skunk:

    Great article, thanks. Has anyone put the pieces together, identified LAT’s hidden agenda, named names? This thing stinks.

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  3. I’ve known that Chuck Philips was a hack and a pretty scummy “journalist” for more than a decade. Anyone reading his LAT pieces and having the least bit of insight into the actual facts behind those stories could pick up on that.

    But now I’m becoming convinced that there was more to his agenda. It looks like he was on the take, just like those dirty cops the LAT loved to hang up for ridicule and scorn.

    I’ve known for years that you can’t believe most of what is written in the LAT. Now the rest of the world (but hopefully, more Angelenos) will recognize that fact as well. Very sad. This city could use a great paper or even just a mildly competent, unbiased and honest one.

    Past Times (4d3198)

  4. “(T)he Biggie Smalls civil trial?”

    I don’t live anywhere near the Left Coast, so I’d never heard of this one before, but I’ve got to love an oxymoronic name like Biggie Smalls! 🙂

    Dana R. Pico (8d0335)

  5. How about an angry black man whose name was (unchanged) Arian White?

    Angry Clam (a7c6b1)

  6. Yes if the LAT is corrupt as the Rolling Stone story suggests, it’s free-fall time for the Newspaper.

    Corruption usually leaves a trail, it would be interesting to see an examination of reported income and spending for Phillips and his editors. If either has boats like Randy Cunninghham, well the article in Rolling Stone looks pretty solid.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  7. The story makes it sound suspiciously like at least two Times personel had personal motives (friendship or money) but what interests me is the motivation of the editors for letting this happen.

    I wonder if most or all of the dirty cops were black. The reason I suspect this is because of the frequent references to “gangster cops”, unmodified by “latino”, “mafia” or any other common gang description. This is consistent with the practice of most MSM outfits to avoid mentioning the race of black criminals.

    Now how can a guy with a gang background become a cop? Well, if he’s a minority, then I’d suspect affirmative action. That is, the police department relaxed their normal background standards to hire some black cops. Obviously, the Times editorial staff would want to keep people from finding out about something like that since they deserve a great deal of credit for anything the department does to cater to blacks.

    I’m fully in favor of very aggressive recruiting of black cops. I wouldn’t even mind giving them extra money because I think one of the very few professions where “looking like America” is actually important is in police departments. But you never want to lower standards for a job where judgement and ethics are so incredibly important. “Looking like America” isn’t that important.

    Doc Rampage (b7bb1a)

  8. Yes if the LAT is corrupt as the Rolling Stone story suggests“…

    ROFLMAO! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!!!

    russ (ee21cb)

  9. This is news? The LA Times has always had the city government’s back. Remember when the county was hocking all its property to avoid budget cuts in the 90’s? Not a peep from the Times until it was all over.

    More and more, I think James Ellroy is if anything not cynical enough. This is what you get with a one-newspaper town.

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  10. Mr Clam, Esq., wrote:

    How about an angry black man whose name was (unchanged) Arian White?

    Well, it ain’t oxymoronic, like Biggie Smalls, but someone should have talked to his mama.

    Dana R. Pico (3e4784)

  11. …giving them extra money…

    Not a good idea, Doc. After milking the program, the LAT would accuse greedy city bureaucrats of selecting lower cost white cops over higher priced cops. White cops would have the economic advantage, and we would then need yet another government program, with lots of reporting and regulatory demands, and a director with adequate staff, to “level the playing field.”

    Black Jack (ee9fe2)

  12. If you have any doubts about how the ‘new’ Times is going to do, check this out.

    kathleen (cfd823)

  13. Very strange! The current Rolling Stone article has been removed from link above, & replaced with an older Sullivan piece on the same subject. Even though the article has today’s date (Dec 5), it is NOT the current article. The current (devastating) article WAS there, yesterday.

    Anonymous (68d8ea)

  14. Black Jack: good point. Still, I don’t think it’s ideal, in a racially-charged city, to have an area with 90% black population and only 10% black cops. It just gives fuel to the race baters.

    Doc Rampage (b7bb1a)

  15. Once upon a time the city was n bed with Mayor Fletcher Bowron and County Sheriff Eugene Biscalooze. Those were the good old days when the streets were safe and Norman Chandler built the LA Times.

    exguru (a9eb8b)

  16. Worse than Jayson Blair

    Patterico points to these two articles on LAPD corruption, the murder of Biggie Smalls, and the L. A. Times.

    Lead and Gold (6ed3f8)

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