Patterico's Pontifications


Chuck Philips Will Stay at the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:02 am

In an article about the L.A. Times‘s retraction of a Chuck Philips story based on forged documents, the New York Times reports that Philips will be staying on at the paper:

A spokeswoman for the newspaper said Mr. Philips, a Pulitzer Prize winner, would remain with the newspaper as an investigative reporter. She would not comment on whether any disciplinary measures had been taken.

Interesting. I had predicted otherwise. You, my readers, mocked me for this prediction, and you were right to do so.

Nevertheless, part of me is glad: namely, the part that still has a few Chuck Philips-related posts left to write.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have several questions to raise about Philips’s reporting. While these questions will always be relevant, they somehow seem more relevant now that we know Philips is staying.

The New York Times article quotes the man who broke the story about the forged documents, The Smoking Gun’s editor William Bastone, as saying he wants to know more about how this happened:

“In the recent history of journalism, when stories go really bad, the publication often does an explanation of how it happened,” Mr. Bastone said. “I’d like to know: How did this kid pull this off from behind bars?”

And I’d like to know how Philips’s story got published with so many deficiencies. Bill Wyman ticks off the story’s multiple failures of fact-checking:

[I]n the LAT Shakur story, the documents were faked; the main source was a loon; the paper seems not to have done anything like due diligence in investigating the character and record of the guy [mak]ing the allegations; it didn’t do due diligence to ascertain the documents it had were reliable; it used all of that evidence to smear the names of several other prominent people; and on top of that also seems to have smeared one of those folks further by reporting that he [had] done time for drug offenses.

(Emphasis in original.)

This goes way beyond merely getting duped by some fake documents. Wyman, a “former arts editor of NPR and,” goes so far as to suggest that Philips’s story is “the worst journalistic screwup we have yet seen.”

I think that’s a touch hyperbolic as a description of this one story. But as a description of Philips’s years of rank advocacy for Suge Knight and against the lawsuit brought by the estate of Biggie Smalls? Not so much.

It is this years-long pattern of promoting Knight — while downplaying, distorting, and otherwise burying evidence of one of the most potentially explosive scandals in Los Angeles’s history — that The Times truly needs to re-examine.

And I am here to help. In coming days and weeks, WLS and I will present new evidence that should aid The Times in its investigation. Because what we really want is good journalism for the City of Los Angeles — the same thing that The Times claims to care about, and something that many of its members actually do care about. In other words, we want, quite simply, the truth.

I should add that the picture that is beginning to emerge from the evidence that we are examining does not begin and end with Chuck Philips. It is, not surprisingly, suggestive of broader, more systemic problems at this newspaper. These are the same problems that I have pointed out on this website for years: a tendency to explore and report only those facts that support a pre-ordained point of view.

So, as I say, stay tuned. Because we’re going to keep feeling our way towards the truth — whether the L.A. Times is interested or not.

16 Responses to “Chuck Philips Will Stay at the L.A. Times”

  1. A shame to see my cynicism validated like that…

    Scott Jacobs (fa5e57)

  2. A shame to see my naivete crushed like that.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  3. “In the recent history of journalism, when stories go really bad, the publication often does an explanation of how it happened,”

    Mr Bastone is incorrect; what the paper or magazine usually does is circle the wagons as the LA Times is doing here, as TNR did with Fabricating Franklin Foer, etc. The LA Times and its peers are ever eager to explain to a questioning reader how mere muggles are just too uninitiated to understand Chuck’s or Franklin’s or Jayson’s or Dan Rather’s or Peter Arnett’s magic.

    These are not the myrmidons of journalism — they are the exemplars. And in every case, they just flat made it up.

    I mean, with easier-to-read classifieds on Craigslist and the movie listings a click away on your iPhone, why ever pick up a paper? The managers seem to think, “there’s no other place to get uninformed opinion.” (They must not ever go to the barber). Or perhaps they think, “for the sensational reporting, accuracy be damned.” That way lies the National Enquirer.

    If they still publish an LA Times on April 8, 2018 it’ll probably have a photo of Bat Boy on the front page.

    Kevin R.C. 'Hognose' O'Brien (8acbe1)

  4. I dunno. The kiss of death in baseball is for the owner to give the manager a vote of confidence. It means that, “We are going to dump him sometime in the near future, not today.”

    quasimodo (edc74e)

  5. Another example of why the news media is not and cannot be trusted, respected or even given superficial consideration.

    Thank you for your time.

    The Outlander (e46c56)

  6. Scott & Bradley – The real shame belongs to Chuck Philips.

    Apogee (366e8b)

  7. Another liberal institution bogged down in a quagmire with no exit plan.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  8. Of course the L.A SLIMES wants all its dirty lying reptiles as it can keep

    krazy kagu (3067be)

  9. You know, re-thinking this, I’ve got to say that everyone’s out of line here. This is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist! A Pulitzer Prize! That’s like, like. . . a Nobel Peace Prize! They don’t give those away to any idiot! No wonder the Times is keeping him on!

    You’ve got to have some respect here, people. Where does it end? Pretty soon you’ll be ridiculing every respectable organization, like for instance:

    The Skilling Energy Trading co.
    The Dillinger Savings & Loan.
    The Kennedy Driving School (adjacent to the Kennedy Swim School).
    The KA Soliah & Partners Arbitration Group.
    The CA Dept. of Corrections Calendar Committee.
    The DB Cooper Travel Agency.
    Nelson, Snipes & Capone, Certified Public Accountants

    Apogee (366e8b)

  10. I could say:
    You can’t handle the truth!

    But, I won’t; because that would be wrong.

    It is the LAT, and its’ Eastern cousin, who have difficulty dealing with truth, fairness, and objectivity.

    Another Drew (f9dd2c)

  11. Get over yourself, Mr. Patterico.

    Jasonbaron (e8bb9e)

  12. Get over yourself, Mr. Patterico. Nobody else is investigating this shit. Not even the cops. Nobody cares about Tupac.

    At least the Times tried. If someone wants to pull off a forgery or a heist, they’ll do it, like the lady from the Nation said.

    Doesn’t mean the whole story is false. Just that one piece of it didn’t work so a paper like the times, which has been in trouble financially, needs to retract it.

    Get over yourself.

    Jasonbaron (e8bb9e)

  13. Doesn’t mean the whole story is false.

    Tell that to the LAT, which has stated that it does not believe the essential allegations of the story.

    Perhaps you need to get over yourself.

    Patterico (4bda0b)

  14. At least the Times tried.

    As did Franklin Foer. Just not hard enough or with sufficient integrity.

    Yup, they tried…to sell some papers.

    Pablo (99243e)

  15. When are people going to learn? This was all a publicity/marketing stunt to drive people to the LAT website. The Times has been looking for ways to improve their online presence and this was it. The story was published online first, and then 2 days later a shortened version was published in print. And all the people at LAT were boasting about how many “hits” the online story received. In the past, they would have been boasting about how well their investigative unit did a good job. Not this time.

    Steve (0cb131)

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