LA Times fires Ted Rall on questions of integrity; Rall stands by story

The LA Times has run a notice to readers that they will not run any more work by editorial cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall after the LA Police Department releases an audio recording rebutting claims of an interaction between Ted and a police officer over a jay walking ticket in which Ted claims he was handcuffed and thrown against the wall.

Here’s the snippet from the LA Times:

In a May 11 post on The Times’ OpinionLA blog, Ted Rall ? a freelance cartoonist whose work appears regularly in The Times ? described an incident in which he was stopped for jaywalking on Melrose Avenue in 2001. Rall said he was thrown up against a wall, handcuffed and roughed up by an LAPD motorcycle policeman who also threw his driver’s license into the sewer. Rall also wrote that dozens of onlookers shouted in protest at the officer’s conduct.

Since then, the Los Angeles Police Department has provided records about the incident, including a complaint Rall filed at the time. An audiotape of the encounter recorded by the police officer does not back up Rall’s assertions; it gives no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman or that Rall’s license was thrown into the sewer or that he was handcuffed. Nor is there any evidence on the recording of a crowd of shouting onlookers.

Ted is standing by his side of the story on the incident and provides a near blow by blow rebuttal over at A New Domain:

Was it possible that I had conflated two incidents? Fourteen years is a long time. Is it possible that I?d misremembered the incident? Was I suffering some sort of memory loss?

In short: No. I hadn?t. I wasn?t.

This so-called ?evidence? against me is audio-only, and crappy quality at that.

Here’s the audio:

Did Ted go Brian Williams and embellish a story? Unless more evidence is forthcoming to back Ted up, I think the LA Times is on solid ground to question Ted’s account. I just don’t buy Ted’s “classic Stockholm Syndrome” as an explanation of the differences in the account.

27 thoughts on “LA Times fires Ted Rall on questions of integrity; Rall stands by story

  1. Alan, if you are going to offer your opinion on this matter, siding with those who question Rall?s integrity, in a forum read by many of his colleagues, then he deserves to have the ability to defend his position here. But he tells me he has been blocked from commenting, despite never having violated any rules of this site. Nor did you contact him for comment on this issue.

    You should allow him to comment. That would be fair.

    In my opinion, the tape is useless, not proving anything either way. One can’t hear much on it but noise.

  2. Ted Rall has been blocked from this site? Why? Will I be blocked for asking? I had no idea that the TDC is in the business of blacklisting prominent cartooning professionals like Ted Rall. This is quite disturbing.

    Given that Mr. Rall is the subject of a story attacking his integrity, why is he being silenced on this forum?

    “Did Ted go Brian Williams…” sounds like a catty attempt at composing a clever teaser.

  3. My previous comment is awaiting moderation. Why?

    Editor’s note: WordPress’s comment filtering system caught Joel’s comment due to key words used. It has been approved.

  4. Ha! What a hoot!
    Complaining about getting cited for his continual petty crimes.
    Would of been even funnier if he was cited for drawing like a chicken that has been dipped in ink and let loose on a scrap of paper.

  5. To those who feel that Ted deserves a rebuttal here, I get your point. But honestly, I don’t buy in the argument that just because I post a news story about Ted (or anyone else whose comment privileges have been revoked) that I have to give them equal voice. I’m not violating his rights, free speech or inhibiting him in any way to present his side of the story. He has several avenues in which he can tell his side and I have provided a link to the source of his main rebuttal in my post. If the story evolves, I will be sure to post updates regardless of who’s side of the story it supports. Yes, I offered an opinion of the validity of his claims based on the merits of both sides of the stories/evidence I read this morning. That’s well within my rights as the publisher of this blog.

  6. I agree with Stephanie and others.

    It’s one thing to run a news story as you’ve done.

    It’s quite another to add an editorialization, as you’ve done, by inserting your comment and personal thought on the matter IN THE NEWS PIECE.

    To be fair, you should in fact let Ted talk among a society of his own peers.

    And maybe write an editorial elsewhere on your site — and label it clearly as OPINION or COMMENTARY, as is generally required by ethical newsites. Put the comments in there.

    The news should stand alone, no?

  7. Everything I’ve ever read from Ted is just sounds angry and sarcastic. So an angry guy gets busted for something petty. He probably did mouth off to the police. Now if he were a BLACK cartoonist – it would be a story! I’ve got to agree with Michael on this one.

  8. What isn’t in your rights, Alan, is to accuse a colleague and then deny them the right to defend themselves. Shame on you for not allowing Ted Rall to respond.

  9. There is no doubt in my mind that the LAPD exerted great pressure on the Los Angeles Times to “fire” Ted Rall.

    There is absolutely not one bit of useful information on the audiotape to either support the LAPD or Rall.

    Obviously the Times fails to provide to their readers/subscribers detailed information about the so-called documentation the LAPD provided to them that was so compelling against Rall. Nothing but a short blurb from their editorial page editor (probably written by their PR and legal department); what a crock!

    I wrote a letter to the editor of the Times about this matter that I doubt the Times will publish. Paraphrasing, I stated that I do not always agree with the opinions in Rall’s cartoons and essays; however, his “firing” was not justified.

    Even if everything the Times and LAPD stated regarding Rall are true, he is not a hard-news journalist. My understanding is the standards for a news anchor/journalist are different than those of commentators such as Rall, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Chris Matthews, et al.

    Bottom line is Rall touches the nerves of many (in good and bad ways) and this latest controversy will not take away his wonderful talent. The Times is not the only game in town.

    I am hoping the Times “firing” will have a “Bill Maher effect.” Maher was fired by ABC after making a harsh comment about September 11. He was then hired by HBO and his success has been phenomenal ever since!

  10. @Bill Stanford @Michael Pohrer
    Schadenfreude means “harm joy”. It sounds like you’re getting a little too much pleasure out of Ted Rall’s misfortunes.

    “Everything I’ve ever read from Ted is (sic) just sounds angry and sarcastic.” He’s an editorial cartoonist. What’s he supposed to sound like? Sunny and apathetic? And even if he is a bit supercilious, so what?

    I’m not sure what you mean by “if he were a BLACK cartoonist”. Are you suggesting that he’d be dead now? Sorry for your disappointment in not getting to read another story (exclamation point noted) involving the killing of another black life.

  11. Again with the “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    I’m puzzled about WordPress’s filtering system. What key words in my comment are red flags? I don’t use coarse language. Is Ted Rall’s name a red flag? Do you, Alan, add your own words for the filtering system to flag? Is anyone else getting the same message after posting a comment?

  12. I should have explained that phrase better – sorry. I meant it would be another story of racial police brutality – as the story reads right now – it is almost a non-story.

  13. Still waiting for two of my comments written this morning to be approved. Does anyone else get awaiting-moderation notices?

  14. @Joel, and anyone else who notices their comment isn’t instantly posted, drop me an email ( and let me know. I do not get alerts when something is filtered out.

    I released several this evening after seeing Joel’s comment about having comments not being posted.


  15. @Scott – I hardly accused Ted of anything. Not even remotely. I simply said, given what I read of the two sides of the story, I thought the LA Times was “on solid ground to question Ted?s account” and added that I didn’t buy Ted’s version of the story. That is not an accusation, it’s an opinion.

  16. >Even if everything the Times and LAPD stated regarding Rall are true, he is not a hard-news journalist.

    While Ted Rall’s career has been built around editorial cartoons and opinion columns, he has done hard-news reporting on several occasions ? twice, in fact, on the ground in Afghanistan, in 2001 and 2010. Ironically enough, one of those trips was underwritten in part, and appeared in the pages of, the LA Times.

  17. I’ve known Ted Rall for 25 years, and one thing the man is not, is a liar. If anything, Ted is painfully honest, always, and about everything.

    What I find shocking about this episode is that instead of just firing Ted, the LA Times conspired with the LAPD to manufacture an excuse to ruin Rall’s reputation and send a chilling message to journalists across the country that cops are not to be criticized. Certainly, most citizens are innately aware of the “wall of silence” that allows cops to get away with murder (of three citizens everyday) without fear of confinement, much less a prison sentence.

    As is typically the case when blatant lies and skullduggery are used to get a quick result, there are a few gaping holes, and perhaps even a smoking gun. The LAPD audiotape provides both. The Times and the LAPD should be trembling at the coming disclosures from such things as a cleaned audio version of Ted’s interaction with LAPD officer Will Durr. The LAPD and the Times should have gotten their lying act together much better before crossing into this territory. I predict this scandal will not only exonerate Ted Rall, but expose a illegal act of collusion between the LAPD and the LA Times that will be hell to pay for both institutions.

  18. Why is this news so compartmentalized? It has all the trappings of an HLN or CNN news story, yet the only interest it seems to garner is among those in the cartooning community. How could something so egregious take place (a cartoonist losing his job over questionable allegations and talk of a conspiracy between the LA Times and the LAPD) and yet the story is a non-story beyond the smear from the LA Times.

    I hope Alan keeps covering new developments, and those in the know keep following up with compelling commentary (such as from Cole Smithey, who I do not know, btw.)

  19. I’ve listened to Rall’s “enhanced” recording of the ticketing incident, and I don’t hear anything that supports Rall’s claim of rough treatment by the officer.

    One of the few things that’s clearly audible on the tape is the officer’s response to Rall’s request for local dining tips. Rall admits to making this odd request, and attributes it to “classic Stockholm Syndrome.” Now, I’ve had one or two encounters with the police, and it’s never occurred to me to ask them where to get a decent slice in the area, but I suppose people are different.

    Another thing that struck me odd is that in Rall’s transcript of the recording, bizarre phrases like ?let?s go murder some widows,? and ?I?m just a big girly-boy, give or take? appear. I can’t hear anything like those phrases when I’ve listened to the recording. I wish Rall was allowed to post here, because then I could ask him if he was high on acid when he made that transcript.

  20. Actually, Danny, you should NOT hear anything that supports Rall’s rough treatment – THAT is what was spliced OUT of the audio file…. The enhanced audio does support other aspects of Rall’s story, however, such as being cuffed, which the officer who arrested him claimed did not occur…

  21. In his attempt to clear his name, Ted Rall has had to hire independent sound experts. If his lawsuits against the LA Times or LAPD takes years to be heard, I see a lot of Mr. Rall’s time and money up against almost limitless resources by the LA Times and LAPD. Mr. Rall will end up losing no matter what he does.

  22. Ho-hum. My comment is awaiting moderation. AGAIN. This is getting old. Perhaps I should try posting my comments in Pig Latin.

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