Patterico's Pontifications


L.A. Times to Readers: You Can’t Handle the Truth! (But a Judge Can, Apparently)

Filed under: Crime,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:35 pm

The truth is sometimes muddy. But clean it up too much and the result isn’t clean truth; it’s a half-truth.

The L.A. Times learned this the hard way today, when a judge rejected an inmate’s claim of innocence — based on facts that the newspaper had known, according to former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips, but deliberately chose not to publish.

And why not report the facts that the judge found so important? They were too complicated, Philips told, and “muddied up” the front-page story touting the inmate’s innocence.

But including facts that dispute a story’s central premise isn’t “muddying up” a story — it’s “reporting the whole truth.” And omitting such facts can’t easily be justified by “news judgment” — not when these same facts turn out to be central to a judge’s decision.

Here are the muddy facts:

The Los Angeles Times reports that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge has rejected as “entirely unbelievable” the alibi of convicted murderer Waymond Anderson, whose claims of innocence were given splashy front-page treatment by former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips in January 2007. (Full disclosure: Anderson’s prosecutor is my supervisor. I have not spoken to her about the case.) has learned that the very facts that caused the judge to disbelieve Anderson’s alibi were known to Philips and his editors before Philips advocated Anderson’s innocence on the front page of The Times.

In a nutshell, Philips admitted to me that, at the time he wrote his original story promoting Anderson’s alibi:

  • Philips knew Anderson had contradicted his alibi in numerous tape-recorded statements to the police.

Regarding Anderson’s explanation for why he had made these statements, Philips said: “There were a lot of things he said that sounded crazy.”

  • Anderson had told Philips outlandish tales about the alleged “real killer” that Philips didn’t believe.

Specifically, Anderson said that the man who had framed him had also killed legendary rappers Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur — and that the man had confessed these murders to Anderson in calls made while Anderson was in prison. Regarding these stories, Philips told me: “A lot of things he came up with, I didn’t believe. He had a lot of things about the Biggie murder and this and that.”

Despite these reasons to question Anderson’s credibility, Philips and his editors consciously decided not to report these facts — because, he said, they would make the story too complicated. Characters would have to be introduced, such as the “real killer” and others who had been involved. Anderson’s elaborate explanation for why he contradicted his alibi to police would have to be explained. All of this, Philips told me, “muddied up” the story too much.

But it turned out that the judge hearing Anderson’s bid for innocence was able to understand these facts very easily. In fact, they turned out to be the reason that he denied Anderson’s habeas corpus petition today. The court found it “totally incredible that the defendant would not be able to state that he was in Mississippi . . . when he was interviewed by the police after being arrested.” The judge found Anderson’s alibi unbelievable, and described Anderson as an “admitted perjurer” based on Anderson’s testimony in a deposition that I told you about last month.

Interestingly, Philips now shares the judge’s view of Anderson’s general credibility. Philips believes that Anderson “is a liar” because of accusations Anderson has since made about Philips — including a claim that Philips smuggled threatening messages to Anderson on behalf of Suge Knight. “Waymond Anderson turned out to be a huge, huge disappointment to me,” Philips told me. “All that stuff he was saying was all lies.”

But, Philips said, he still believes Anderson was innocent of the murder. “I did things for his family. I helped him out doing legal things for his case. . . . I believed he was innocent and several people I talked to believed he was innocent.”

Evidently the judge doesn’t agree.

But then, he knows the facts that L.A. Times readers were never told . . . until now.

P.S. I plan to have more details regarding my interview with Philips, on this issue and others, in future posts. Stay tuned.

12 Responses to “L.A. Times to Readers: You Can’t Handle the Truth! (But a Judge Can, Apparently)”

  1. it’s the Times: why would you expect anything else than what they did?

    redc1c4 (27fd3e)

  2. Half truths from the LA Times? Seems apt. Sam Zell was interviewed on CNBC Wednesday and when pressed on pressing matters about the bankruptcy, actually worked in the math, “1+1=3” in his answers. That’s sums up the state of mind- and journalism– at the Los Angeles Times. Besides, according to W, we all know 1+1=11… not 2.

    DCSCA (d8da01)

  3. I smell another downsizing at the LAT. It just doesn’t seem to dawn on any of the hermetically sealed LAT left and liberal bosses that people won’t knowingly buy falsehoods, lies, or deceptions.

    howard432 (cc8b85)

  4. Could this countries press be anymore pathetic.
    Watching the press spinning,defending,and kissing Obama’s a$$ on top of stories like this make me want to puke.

    Welcome to Pravda West.

    Baxter Greene (8035ae)

  5. The truth is so complicated that comic strips seem much easier to understand. Some of this is the education system we have now. Have any of you read college freshman essays ? I’m kind of sympathetic to these fools at the Times but they also support the teachers’ unions that have dumbed down our population. This is just one indicator.

    The last generation of readers is getting old. Maybe they figured nobody would read the story once it got complicated.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  6. I’m kind of sympathetic to these fools at the Times but they also support the teachers’ unions that have dumbed down our population. This is just one indicator.

    The last generation of readers is getting old. Maybe they figured nobody would read the story once it got complicated.

    Comment by Mike K — 12/11/2008 @ 5:49 am

    Good point.

    I worked during the day and got my college education at night(double major in computer information/Business).One clear advantage to going
    at night was being in class with the actual workforce in the area you were studying for.
    At the time,companies were offering between 4 and 7 dollars a line for code.(by the time I graduated,it had fallen to $1.00)
    within the 4 1/2 years I went,the Asian,Pakistani,and people from India were taking more and more of these courses/degrees.
    Working side by side with them came to be an eye opening humiliation.
    They were light years ahead of almost everyone else in class.
    I knew then that our standards and how high we set the bar education wise was nowhere near many other countries.We are spoiled.We have had it to easy to long.

    On the embarrassing bias and idiocy of the press,
    look at this breakdown of the last few days concerning the whitewash of Obama by his democratic activists friends that like to call themselves “journalist”:

    (via instapundit)
    Surprise! Stories Noting Obama-Blagojevich Meetings Disappear Down Memory Hole
    Now you see it!


    Just imagine the howls if a media outlet published a story potentially damaging to George W. Bush and a month later it disappeared.

    Look at this unbelievable a$$ kissing drivel by the NYtimes:

    Oh, and if you had any doubt the media wouldn’t go to any lengths to help carry water for The Messiah, this should put that to rest:

    Obama’s Effort on Ethics Bill Had Role in Governor’s Fall

    In a sequence of events that neatly captures the contradictions of Barack Obama’s rise through Illinois politics, a phone call he made three months ago to urge passage of a state ethics bill indirectly contributed to the downfall of a fellow Democrat he twice supported, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

    So Obama possesses such mystical powers, an innocuous phone call of three months ago greased the skids for his pal Blagojovich.

    This is one he!! of an echo chamber these idiots have themselves in.

    Baxter Greene (8035ae)

  7. That “ethics” bill was passed unanimously. That should tell you something about it.

    I had a somewhat similar experience taking computer science courses at the local junior college in 1995 after I retired. The semester would begin with a full classroom. By mid-term exams, half the class would be gone. It was less apparent at night, as you point out. By the end of the term, there would be five or six of us left. All but one or two would be over 50. The night classes were not only less subject to attrition, the instructors were better.

    I am already regretting sending my daughter to a four year university for her first two years. Junior college core courses are not as politically correct.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  8. Mike K…
    Interesting post on that China music instruction.
    When I was doing my upper-division work after leaving the service, some of us were talking about applying with various gov agencies, and it came up that the CIA/NSA was looking for musicians with math backgrounds (or was that math majors with a musical background? No matter) – they made excellent code breakers.

    Another Drew (3a8a2c)

  9. The article also points out that medical schools admit more music majors than any other major except pre-med. My class, which began in 1962, had two music majors, one of whom had never taken a pre-med class. The story doesn’t have a happy ending, though. They both became psychiatrists.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  10. Comment by Mike K — 12/11/2008 @ 8:50 am

    …and made a fortune treating the self-obsessed products of the 60’s.

    Another Drew (3a8a2c)

  11. Good thing we have you to provide the racist perspective that we just don’t get enough of in our L.A. newspapers. By the way, Patrick, what percentage of those whom you prosecuted in the D.A’s office were African American?

    A, (6f77e0)

  12. Patterico, if you’re really committed to the prosecutor’s responsibility to seek the truth why not ask why the Las Vegas homicide detectives haven’t done shit about investigating the Tupac homicide?

    Oh, that’s right. You’re the all-knowing corrector of LA Times abuses. Infallible and followed by the same ditto- [aka dunder- ] heads as Slush Limpbaw.

    The fact that you never talk about how the media, including the Times, serves the purposes of the police and DA’s office demonstrates YOUR BIAS.

    Cato (96b5ea)

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