Is disgraced former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips trying to use specious legal claims and toothless workplace threats to wipe evidence of his biased reporting off of the Internet?
You be the judge.
I received this over a week ago:
Please be aware that your reproduction of the handwritten or typed letters of Chuck Philips to individuals violates his copyright and trademark. Violation of Mr. Philips’ copyright and trademark can head to fines in excess of 100,00 per instance.
As a courtesy, we will give you 72 hours to remove this material from your website. I have advised Mr. Philips to take legal action against you and your website should you not cease and desist within this time frame.
“In excess of 100,00” — wow, that sounds like a lot! It would sound like even more if there were three zeroes after the comma, the way one normally writes numbers.
So what is this about? The “cordial” Mr. Carlson doesn’t say, but I believe the posts he is referring to are here and here.
In brief, Mr. Philips was reporting about criminal cases against (now convicted criminal) Anthony Pellicano for the Los Angeles Times. Philips has always seemed unnaturally friendly to Mr. Pellicano, and the letters — written to prison inmates who were potential witnesses — seemed to suggest story lines that would benefit Mr. Pellicano. In other words, Philips did not write the inmates to ask: “What happened?” Instead, he wrote letters that set out various scenarios that would be helpful to Pellicano’s defense, and asked the inmates, “Is that what happened?”
In one letter, Philips presented an inmate with a scenario of misconduct by FBI agents who had conducted a search of Pellicano’s office, and reminded the inmate that the agents were “the same officials who charged and prosecuted your case.” He told the inmate that “[i]t is obvious to me that the government is not being candid” and opined that Pellicano’s rights had been violated. Philips told the inmate that he believed the inmate’s recollection could “sink this case” against Pellicano.
Just another day at your always objective Big Media corporation!
You can read the letters at the links. (Yes, more than 72 hours later, they are still there.)
In short, Philips acted as a partisan advocate for Pellicano, rather than as an objective reporter.
And at the same time, he was reporting on Pellicano’s case for the Los Angeles Times.
I broke the story of Philips’s astoundingly biased reporting in the posts linked above. If Philips had not already been fired, one wonders if these posts would have resulted in the same action.
Are we truly to believe that Philips wants to retain the right to publish these letters on his own? Or is he using copyright to try to hide letters that are professionally embarrassing to him, because they reveal how he operates as a journalist? The answer to that rather rhetorical question comes in a follow-up that Carlson sent to my lawyer Ron Coleman:
Please be advised that, moreover, as a matter of ethics, your publication of these letters by the author may interfere with the prosecution of ongoing criminal cases in New York, adversely impacting these prosecutions. We certainly hope that an individual who associates himself with the DA’s office in law enforcement would be aware of the untoward consequences of his actions and show appropriate judgment. It appears, at the very least, unseemly for an individual associated with law enforcement to be involved in the dissemination of this sort of prejudicial information. In this connection, it may be of some assistance for your client to review the ongoing cases of the US v. James Rosemond of which Mr. Frey should be aware, given his stated expertise. Certainly your client would not want to interfere with this prosecution. We will assume that now that we have made you aware of these ethical issues, your client will remove these materials as a matter of prudent judgment and so further investigation and complaint will not be necessary.
Ah, the old workplace threat! Are Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin behind this?
For the record, I have received absolutely no contact from any prosecutor asking me to take down the posts with Philips’s letters, nor can I imagine why they would. Also, for the record, everything I say on this site is said as a private citizen. The disclaimer is over there on the right sidebar.
There is no ethical issue. What there is, is a thuggish attempt to use baseless legal threats and threats to complain to my workplace — all to force me to remove posts that show Philips was trying to push a pro-Pellicano story line while he was writing for the Los Angeles Times.
How big a story is this going to become? I guess we’ll see, won’t we?
In the meantime, my thanks to my lawyer Ron Coleman, who always has my back. You can read his entire exchange with Mr. Carlson here.