Patterico's Pontifications

3/15/2007

L.A. Times Outrageously Misstates Facts on Timing of Targeting of Lam

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 6:22 am



The L.A. Times has the unmitigated gall to write an entire story about the timing of an e-mail regarding Carol Lam, without telling its readers that Lam was on a list of targeted prosecutors well before the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal ever broke. Worse, the paper misstates the facts to its readers to support its position.

On March 2, 2005, Kyle Sampson sent Harriet Miers a list (dated February 24) of prosecutors. The names of those targeted were struck out. Lam’s name was stricken out, meaning she had been targeted.

As I told you earlier this morning, the Cunningham investigation broke months later in June 2005, with the publication of this story. Even the lefty TPM Muckraker admits that Lam was targeted before that date. TPM Muckraker also admits that Carol Lam was not investigating Cunningham until the scandal was broken by a newspaper in June 2005, after Lam had been targeted.

This morning’s dishonest Times article nowhere makes this clear. Instead, it focuses on (and misquotes) a later e-mail from Sampson, misstating the facts in the process:

“The real problem we have right now is Carol Lam,” D. Kyle Sampson told White House Deputy Counsel William Kelley on May 11. “That leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”

. . . .

On May 11 — the month after Sampson told the White House counsel’s office that Lam was being targeted for dismissal — The Times reported that federal prosecutors in Los Angeles had begun an investigation into [Republican Rep. Jerry] Lewis.

This is outrageously wrong. Sampson’s e-mail to Harriet Miers, in which he targeted Lam, was sent on March 2, 2005 — more than a year earlier, and before the Cunningham scandal broke. The report about the investigation into Lewis was published on May 11, 2006. The paper implies Sampson targeted Lam in April 2006 — well after the Cunningham scandal had broken. This is utterly false.

It’s interesting how the Times repeatedly says “May 11” without reporting the year. It’s even more interesting that the paper doesn’t tell you that the timing actually proves that there was no connection between Lam’s targeting and the Cunningham case.

ReadersRep@latimes.com

UPDATE: One more point: the supposedly suspicious timing of Sampson’s May 11 e-mail? The L.A. Times forgot to mention that he was responding to a request made the day before.

UPDATE x2: My letter to the paper about this is here. Their response, and my reply to the response, is here. And thanks to Mickey for the link.

34 Responses to “L.A. Times Outrageously Misstates Facts on Timing of Targeting of Lam”

  1. Carol was fired because her case count was down

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  2. A Group out of Syracuse University I think called Trac or something like that tracks the numbers of cases, prison sentences etc Her numbers were off – way off

    And she was seen eating a ham sandwhich on WHITE

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  3. Typical mistatement of facts, or inviting the reader to draw opposite inference. The fraction of readers that are “careful” or “critical” is probably on the order of 5-15%.

    cboldt (a60d7f)

  4. What is it with you and latimes, Patty?

    Do you remember the Herald Examiner?

    Chicago is a two newspaper town, and that rope-a-dope works better when there is a counterpoint. I miss the old latimes and the old
    Lakers.

    semanticleo (75845c)

  5. How long before the LAT runs a correction?

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  6. Patterico, haven’t you been paying attention? You’re still working from that old, out-dated frame of “causality”. The modern, progressive thinker doesn’t limit themself that way. Just as Cheney asked for someone to go to Niger after Wilson was put forward for the trip, yet is still described as “asking for Wilson to go”, Lam was clearly fired for targeting a corrupt Republican, even though she was targeted before he was indicted.

    You just can’t let yourself cling to those outdated, masculine, white-power concepts of linear time.

    Robert Crawford (9eef80)

  7. A crucial fact few have pointed out is that all of these replacements (not firings) took place in the context of a thorough review of all U.S. Attorneys upon the expiration of their statutorily-provided 4-year term. None were removed prior to the expiration of their initial term. After that, they merely serve until their replacement is named. I discuss in more detail at Stubborn Facts.

    PatHMV (e02f43)

  8. C’mon Pat. This is obviously a mistake, simple human error. Of course, if you were told there would be an error in the piece before you saw it, you could have bet your house on who that mistake would reflect poorly upon.

    It may be more challenging to bet upon when and where the inevitable correction will be placed in the dog trainer.

    I’ll take next Saturday, B-5 since it was my idea and I get to pick first!

    spongeworthy (45b30e)

  9. Pat: Your post on Stubborn Facts is spot on.

    Tech note: Your “Captcha Validation” isn’t working. I tried to post a comment, but after 5 tries to get the captcha right I just gave up. I tried all lowercase, all uppercase, a mixture of the two, it didn’t matter. All captcha entries had failed.

    Gabriel Sutherland (90b3a1)

  10. P: In 2005 you said the author of the piece, Richard Serrano had a good reputation. https://patterico.com/2005/05/28/3077/la-times-sat-on-evidence-relating-to-clinton-pardon/

    However, Serrano has been caught before:

    “In the midst of “Pardongate,” the Los Angeles Times reported allegations that President Clinton’s half-brother Roger was soliciting payments to arrange presidential pardons. The article describes in detail the activities of two men who approached relatives of felons with this offer, claiming that they were associates of Roger Clinton. Not until nearly the end of the article does the story mention that the people approached with this offer never actually saw or spoke to Roger Clinton himself. When all the facts are known, it seems most likely that the men soliciting the pardons were con artists using Roger Clinton’s name without his knowledge or consent; but the story as written explicitly portrays Clinton as a knowing accomplice in their activities. (Stephen Braun and Richard A. Serrano, “2 Lawyers Say Roger Clinton Sought Payment for Pardons.” Los Angeles Times, 10 March 2001.)”
    http://www.failureisimpossible.com/essays/yellowjournalism.htm

    Read it all.

    BlacquesJacquesShellacques (83acf5)

  11. Thanks, Gabriel. We’ve been having problems with the captcha, but without it we get spammed pretty quickly. I’ve changed it to ask a math problem (addition or subtraction) instead. Sorry about the difficulties.

    PatHMV (e02f43)

  12. “without telling its readers that Lam was a list of targeted prosecutors”

    Do you mean was ON a list?

    [Yes, thanks. I typed up that post in a hurry this morning. I can’t fix it with a Treo. I’ll ask Xrlq if he can fix it. — P]

    Daryl Herbert (79d624)

  13. The ole Nixon list thing – figures

    EricPWJohnson (695c44)

  14. I don’t know it seems… odd that Carol Lam was fired for putting public corruption over immigration while Iglesias was fired for putting immigration over public corruption. A cynical person might think this isn’t odd at all in that the corruption in Lam’s case involved Republicans and in Iglesias’ case involved Democrats.

    Polybius (7cd3c5)

  15. Polybius: Or that those weren’t the reasons at all, and case count and other performance was, eg Eric’s comments #1 and #2.

    Who stated the reasons for those two firings were what you claim?

    Sigivald (9ca8d0)

  16. As I have stated in the past, the NYT and LAT never let anything like truth and ethics get in the way of an agenda.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  17. The LA Times has swung fully around and is now a full-fledged tool of the RNC and the White House. Saddens the heart.

    vandrop (4afce6)

  18. […] PM Update I: Patterico catches the LA Times in a whopper again on this story. […]

    Sister Toldjah » Andrew McCarthy on the fired US attorneys ’scandal’ (1466f5)

  19. #6: Yeah and the death of Leon Klinghofer, the bombing of the Marines in Lebanon, the Cole and the Khbar Towers were all undertaken BECAUSE George Bush was GOING to become President….

    oldirishpig (219931)

  20. Nice job. I’ve been way too busy to follow this story but you are just one-stop shopping for anyone who needs to catch up. Thanks 🙂

    Cassandra (57b9d6)

  21. Does anybody else find it baffling and ironic that a group of hyperventilating Senators and Press are attempting to have an Attorney (Gonzales) fired because they disagree with one of his decisions, which just happens to have been to fire a number of Attorneys?

    Georg Felis (868518)

  22. #17 – “vandrop” translated from Klingon is:
    BRAIN DEAD!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  23. No, Carol was fired because she was about to prove that George W. Bush was actually piloting one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center on September 11th, sheeple.

    Cassandra (57b9d6)

  24. […] Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Outrageously Misstates Facts on Timing of Targeting of Lam On May 11 — the month after Sampson told the White House counsel’s office that Lam was being targeted for dismissal — The Times reported that federal prosecutors in Los Angeles had begun an investigation into [Republican Rep. Jerry] Lewis.This is outrageously wrong. Sampson’s e-mail to Harriet Miers, in which he targeted Lam, was sent on March 2, 2005 — more than a year earlier, and before the Cunningham scandal broke. The report about the investigation into Lewis was published on May 11, 2006. The paper implies Sampson targeted Lam in April 2006 — well after the Cunningham scandal had broken. This is utterly false. […]

    NixGuy.com » Patterico’s Catches LA Times (096f29)

  25. The SMELL A TIMES all that bull thats fit to print

    krazy kagu (aef0eb)

  26. You folks are missing the point.

    In today’s Los Angeles Daily Journal, even Rep. Darrell Issa suggests that the charges relating to lack of immigration prosecutions is a smokescreen. Sure the charges preceded the Cunningham prosecution, but nothing was done at the time. It was only when Cunningham was prosecuted that anyone cared and used the immigration prosecutions as an excuse.

    The key document is a May 2006 memo DOJ referring to Lam as “the real problem.” Duke was well on his way to the can by then.

    So the timing you are talking about means nothing. It is all about Jerry Lewis!

    Stephen Kaus (7640c5)

  27. My husband is a US Marshal, retired. US Attorneys and US Marshals serve for 4 year appointments and then further time only at the pleasure of the president/administration. All the politicians and, I would hope, an informed media, understand this even if the general public doesn’t understand it. The nominating/appointing process is totally political. Nominees or their families have ties, usually financial to the party in the White House. When my husband’s term under Carter was over and Ronald Regan was elected… my husband submitted his resignation. That’s the way it’s done folks. I don’t understand the apparent confusion over this issue. Been there; done that!

    Pat Villaescusa (6af984)

  28. […] While I have not delved too deeply into the intricacies of the latest brouhaha, I have been following with some interest the attempts by the media to tar the White House by connecting Carol Lam’s termination as USAG for San Diego with the ramping up of the case against the now-infamous Randy “Duke” Cunningham. Patterico, quite reliably, has been all over this story from the get-go. He took the L.A. Times to task for implying that Carol Lam was targeted because of her conducting of the Cunningham investigation (which eventually led to Duke’s imprisonment) by misrepresenting the timing of email communications from Kyle Sampson, Chief of Staff for Roberto Gonzalez. The L.A. Times has the unmitigated gall to write an entire story about the timing of an e-mail regarding Carol Lam, without telling its readers that Lam was on a list of targeted prosecutors well before the Randy “Duke” Cunningham scandal ever broke. Worse, the paper misstates the facts to its readers to support its position. […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » Attorney-Gate (f55714)

  29. Your points about inaccuracy in the LA Times are great. I hope, however, that you can see that the DOJ still should be in hot water. As you note, Harriet Meier’s list came from the White House earlier than the LATimes reported. But its source being from the White House implies that Gonzalez likely lied to Congress.

    Not Good, no matter the party.

    jackifus (30b2af)

  30. Correct a couple of gross misconceptions in the comments here:

    – one, of course nominating is political, as is the case in any administrative position. The question is how political. If it’s so political that Republican attorneys appointed by the same administration are fired summarily, with no adequate explanation of cause and many inadequate and patently false explanations, that’s a problem.

    – two, although you are right about the misleading LA Times piece (anyone would be a fool to defend the national reporting of a second-rate local paper), the conclusion that Lam’s firing was unrelated to the Duke case isn’t supported. She was targeted before, yes, as were many many prosecutors – but the truth is the day after the new indictments on the Cunningham case came down Sampson wrote an email saying “we have a real problem with Carol Lam” recommending she be fired immediately. That’s timing for you.

    – three, no evidence to support the idea that she wasn’t pushing hard enough on immigration or had a low case count, and plenty of evidence to show that wasn’t a problem…performance reviews, letters from Senators, etc.

    Kate DC (ba89de)

  31. If you believe yoo’ve proven the LA Times are liars because they didn’t publish the story the way you wanted they you’ve proven yourself and even bigger liar by what you leave out of your story. Most of the fired attourneys that were fired were not stuck out on this list. In fact the attourneys were as likely to be listed as strong performers, neutral or weak. Most of the attourneys ‘targeted’ by this list were not in fact fired. Any reasonable analysis of this list would immediately come to the conclusion that this list had no relevance or impact on who was fired and who was kept. Hiding this fact from your readers makes you exactly the equivalent of what you claim the LA Times reporters are.

    hpocrite (e8a54f)

  32. After reading your item I clicked through to the LAT piece, fully expecting to read a piece focusing on Cunningham. In fact, the piece doesn’t focus on Cunningham at all. Try reading the lead again! It’s about Jerry Lewis, not Cunningham!

    Yes, you’re right that the line in the piece suggesting Lam was targeted for dismissal in April 2006 is wrong (and the LA Times should have corrected that; the letter from the “reader rep” is bogus).

    But that has nothing to do with the thrust of the piece – which is that it is at least a very suspicious coincidence that Sampson sent his “real problem” email on the day news broke about the LEWIS investigation – not the Cunningham investigation.

    In fact, the (incorrect) sentence which offends you so still says very clearly that Lam was targeted BEFORE the Lewis investigation was reported.

    More importantly, the LAT error could cut both ways. IF (accepting, for a moment, the error as fact) Lam was targeted in April 2006 and then only a month later Sampson says she’s a “real problem” then it’s actually MORE credible that the REAL reason she’s a problem is something OTHER than the news of the Lewis investigation, because it was only recently (a month before) that she was in trouble for (presumably) other reasons.

    But if she was targeted in early 2005 – and you yourself are saying that is the case – but she wasn’t singled out as a “real problem” until more than a year later on the day when news broke of the Lewis investigation, then it’s MORE likely that the Lewis investigation is what drove the new desire to finally get rid of her.

    In other words, Lam was targeted in early 2005 – but whatever the problem was then was apparently not such a big deal that she had to be removed immediately.

    But suddenly in May 2006 she’s a “real problem” requiring urgent action. That’s what’s suspicious here.

    I clicked through from Mickey Kaus and once again he’s linking to utterly unconvincing arguments.

    Kindadukish (2dc102)

  33. Yours is the utterly unconvincing argument.

    But that has nothing to do with the thrust of the piece – which is that it is at least a very suspicious coincidence that Sampson sent his “real problem” email on the day news broke about the LEWIS investigation – not the Cunningham investigation.

    But the LEWIS investigation was not even undertaken by Lam. So what is your point?

    The clear point of the piece is to portray Cunningham/Lewis as one giant tied-in investigation. If you accept that, when why wasn’t Debra Yang the “real problem” on May 11? And if you accept that, there is still the issue that the paper didn’t tell readers that Lam was targeted well before the Cunningham investigation ever broke.

    In fact, the (incorrect) sentence which offends you so still says very clearly that Lam was targeted BEFORE the Lewis investigation was reported.

    But not before Cunningham — which is the investigation that Lam actually did. And the piece tied Lewis to Cunningham, noting (correctly) that the Lewis investigation was an outgrowth of the Cunningham one. But — let me repeat this for you in big letters that you can’t miss — LAM WAS TARGETED BEFORE THE CUNNINGHAM INVESTIGATION EVER BROKE. Accordingly, she was initially targeted for reasons having nothing to do with Cunningham.

    Lefties like you never bother to address this. You try to score debating points by directing people to other issues, like the fact that other people were rated well on the initial list but later fired.

    None of that undercuts the central point: Lam was initially targeted for reasons having nothing to do with any investigation even remotely related to Randy Duke Cunningham — whether it’s Dusty Foggo, Jerry Lewis, or anyone else.

    Let me say that again, since you don’t seem to get it.

    Lam was initially targeted for reasons having nothing to do with any investigation even remotely related to Randy Duke Cunningham — whether it’s Dusty Foggo, Jerry Lewis, or anyone else.

    Admit that, please, and then deal with the implications.

    Patterico (04465c)

  34. Sure, I’m happy to admit that’s true, from what we know now.

    And your view is that the implication of that is that the Sampson “real problem” email and its timing is completely uninteresting?

    I never said the timing proved anything. I said it’s highly suspicious. And that’s what the LAT piece said, basically.

    The “implication” I assume you want me to deal with is the possibility that Carol Lam was fired ONLY for issues related to immigration. No problem, let’s talk about that.

    I just want to point out more generally, there is a management issue here. You don’t deny that Carol Lam got one of the longest sentences ever for a corrupt congressman right? And that case got a lot of publicity, and one hopes, sent a strong message to other public officials. (And I would also note that the case involved corrupting national defense – an area Republicans claim they care about more than Dems). And the Republicans fire her? What message does that send to other prosecutors? What message does it send to public officials?

    If the issue they really cared about was immigration, why didn’t they send a new deputy to focus on immigration, or send more prosecutors (half of Lam’s office was working on immigration)? In other words, given her obvious success at the public integrity prosecutions, they had other options than firing her if they wanted to up the immigration case count.

    I would also point out that Lam herself in her congressional testimony said that she made a strategic decision to focus on the worst offenders and getting longer sentences in the immigration area (there has been reporting she was successful in that). As well, she said she worked out a deal with the local authorities for them to handle more of the smaller cases. Whether that effort worked out I do not know – I’d really like to see some reporting on that.

    I live in LA. Immigration is obviously a big deal here. Where are the stories out of San Diego quoting law enforcement officials saying “Yes, illegal immigration is out of control and Carol Lam was part of the problem”? In fact, I’ve only seen very positive quotes from law enforcement types in San Diego. The head of the FBI there said he was sure politics was involved.

    I’m happy to deal with the “implications” if you are. The implication of your argument is that Lam was fired for immigration issues. The other evidence I’ve seen doesn’t back that up. And I feel it was at least very poor management to send the signal to other prosecutors that getting tough sentences for very corrupt public officials doesn’t win points with the current Justice Department. For anyone who wants clean government, that’s a concern.

    KIndadukish (c4e2ab)


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