Kevin Roderick reported yesterday:
Sunday’s Current section in the Los Angeles Times will carry an editor’s note disclosing some details of a romantic relationship between Andrés Martinez, the paper’s Editor of the Editorial Pages, and Kelly Mullens, a Hollywood public relations executive. There will also be a story in tomorrow’s Business section, at least according to the internal story budget. Why? Because Mullens’ Hollywood PR firm represents Brian Grazer, the producer who was brought in as guest editor of this weekend’s Current section.
Today the paper runs that story, which reveals that the paper may be taking action more drastic than an Editor’s Note:
The Los Angeles Times might scrap Sunday’s Current section to avoid the appearance that a romantic relationship between the paper’s editorial page editor and a publicist for Hollywood producer Brian Grazer might have led to Grazer’s selection as a guest editor.
“I believe, based on everything that I have seen, that we have only the appearance of a conflict here,” Hiller said. “I believe that the selection of Grazer was not based on this relationship. We have an appearance and not a case of actual undue influence.
“We want to do the right thing for our readers and for the paper,” Hiller added.
Many reporters and editors in The Times’ newsroom said they were unhappy about how readers might perceive the decision to let an outsider — with the appearance of a special inside connection — hold sway over the Sunday opinion and editorial pages.
One thing might complicate the decision to make it all go away by just scrapping this Sunday Opinion section. Roderick says:
The buzz also includes accusations that other clients of Mullens and Allan Mayer [a partner at Mullens’s firm] have turned up on the Times opinion pages, a claim that reportedly is being checked by higher-ups.
I think we need to see all the e-mails concerning who was selected to publish on the opinion pages, and why — and have hearings with testimony, under oath, including transcripts, from all the players involved.
Yes, I’m joking. I assume there is nothing to this. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
UPDATE: The section was scrapped, and Martinez has resigned. His statement is extraordinary. I will post further on this as soon as I get the chance.