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An Open Letter to Los Angeles Times Executive Editor Norman Pearlstine
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Dear Mr. Pearlstine: Last week, you issued a statement acknowledging the role your newspaper has played in the racist oppression of people of color, according to the “LA Podcast.” “The Los Angeles Times has a long, well-documented history of fueling the racism and cruelty that accompanied our city’s becoming a metropolis,” you wrote. You promised reforms including “addressing the concerns of people of color in the newsroom.”

You admitted that this is merely a start and asked for suggestions for how the Times can redeem itself and earn the trust of readers, especially people of color.

I will take you at your word.

To begin with, the Times should come clean about its longstanding, cozy relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department. And it should end this deep conflict of interest, which makes it impossible for your paper to report objectively about the police. When the media fails to hold the police accountable, the police are free to abuse the citizens they are supposed to protect.

My case shines a light on how the media censors critics and breeds self-censorship by journalists. I was an editorial cartoonist for the Times from 2009 to 2015. My cartoons often criticized police brutality and racist policing. Instead of stopping their abuse of minorities, however, the police apparently repeatedly demanded that the papers that ran my cartoons fire me. That fell on deaf ears until 2014, when the Times brought in a new publisher, Austin Beutner. Beutner, a hedge fund billionaire who is now superintendent of LA schools, midwifed a deal by which the \$16.4 billion LAPD pension fund purchased No. 1 shareholder status in Tribune Publishing, which owned the Times and 14 other newspapers. (Yes, it’s legal for the cops to buy media companies.) The LAPD police union gave an award to Beutner.

The union has a history of buying newspaper stock. It seeks to hide its motives. It seeks to remove negative coverage of the police from “its” papers. “Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced,” the union’s then-president explained in 2009, after it acquired interest in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Me being fired was not enough for then-LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck. The LAPD also wanted to send a chilling message to journalists throughout the Southland: If you criticize the police, we will destroy you. So the Times published a smear article about me.

I proved the evidence was bogus and that I had been truthful, yet editorial page editor Nick Goldberg ignored it.

The Times was determined to ruin me and didn’t care that I had done nothing wrong. Inexplicably, Goldberg still works at the Times.

My case is not just about me. It opens a window into why and how the Times’ relationship with the police corrupts its commentary and coverage.

It shows why and how victims of police brutality have been ignored or diminished.

It explains why and how police narratives are taken at face value, no matter how ridiculous.

How can anyone read about what happened to me and still believe anything the Times has to say about cops?


Mr. Pearlstine, if this is not empty talk, if you are serious about turning over a new leaf, you should address my case. Hiring more people of color in the newsroom is overdue, important and necessary. But black reporters aren’t more likely than white journalists to go after the police if they’re equally afraid of getting fired. Everyone at the Times knows what the paper did to me; they know it could happen to them, too, if they go “too far” against the cops.

The LAPD got rid of their most irritating critic and a pundit who made going after police brutality a priority. The Times never replaced me.

Rehiring me would make a powerful symbolic statement that the Beutner era of corruption and complicity with the police is finished. It would demonstrate you do not edit a police propaganda rag. You could take down the two articles about me that are still on your website. You could issue a retraction and an apology.

The Times’ current owner, Dr. Pat Soon-Shiong, should pledge not to enter financial partnerships with law enforcement agencies.

Like many other papers, the Times relies on the police to tip off reporters about breaking local news. This relationship should be severed. Reporters ought not socialize with cops, much less rely upon them for stories. Refusing to be a police lapdog requires hiring more journalists — but Soon-Shiong is a biotech billionaire. He can easily afford them.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from you.

Very truly yours,

Ted Rall

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Censorship, Police 
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  1. people of color

    Did you bring a bucket for my throw-up, racist?

    Otherwise, and apart from the career-rerailing attempt, one of the more informative and cogent articles from Tovarishch Ted.

  2. When the media fails to hold the police accountable, the police are free to abuse the citizens they are supposed to protect.

    Siding with management, eh?

    The union has a history of buying newspaper stock. It seeks to hide its motives. It seeks to remove negative coverage of the police from “its” papers.

    The whole point of having unions is to protect the interests of their members. This is exactly what the police union is doing. It’s baked into the system.

  3. To the 2 commenters so far on this article: Thank you thank you thank you. You saved me the time and trouble of reading this article writer’s drivel.

    • Replies: @Alfa158
  4. Alfa158 says:

    Yes, but by not reading the article you missed gems like this one, apparently written with perfect seriousness:
    “Inexplicably Goldberg still works at the Times.”

  5. Thanks for this story … You tried to do something for the little vulnerable people, and you got slammed by how the American world really works … kudos to you, Ted Rall

    You got away lightly, despite the smear campaign, a badge of honour these days. False charges against you with planted evidence, that was a risk here … Or worse:

    Journalist Gary Webb claimed the CIA helped foster the crack epidemic that ravaged Los Angeles in the 1980s. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead, with TWO .38-caliber bullets to the head yet ‘apparent’ suicide.

    Despite this raw experience, Mr Rall, you yourself seem to remain rather naive about some things, such as how hopelessly degenerate the ‘left’ has become … and how anti-9-11 truth Edward Snowden whose cartoon you place on every column, is beyond any doubt a CIA fraud, as is his Rothschild employee pumper, the ex-seller of gay pornography Glenn Greenwald

    Regarding the black victims you tried to help, it’s worth noting how corrupt leftist organisations like the ACLU only support blacks to the degree it serves their cultural marxist agenda … and they actually indulge a lot of brutality against blacks, and massive jailings of innocent black people, in order to stoke the Trotskyite fires of racial conflict

    Blacks get arrested and jailed for crimes for which they are innocent, the police often arresting a random black instead of the guilty party whom they can’t easily find, who stays on the street … ‘public defender’ lawyers help railroad blacks to keep their jobs … and the fakers like the ACLU indulge all this

    It’s a tragedy that commoner whites and blacks, are impeded from seeing they are both mauled by the same corrupt US legal and government system

    For half a century, the USA has run manipulations to encourage black crime and social destruction

    Welfare system giving black mothers more funds if no father in the home, a wrecking ball for the black family like divorce rape is for white ones

    Hollywood blaxploitation films going back to the 1970s, and gangsta rap music, glamourising gunmen, pimps etc

    Crack and heroin pouring into ghettos, apparently sponsored by US Gov and CIA, as Gary Webb showed, US military in Afghanistan overseeing increased heroin production

    And then the legal system mauling of blacks, young blacks learning they are likely to be jailed whether criminals or not, due to corrupt prosecutors / judges / lawyers

    A parallel to how non-elite whites get mauled by US judges and lawyers, in divorce, or having assets stolen by people with connections … and increasingly now, white political jailings too

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