Three weeks ago the Los Angeles Times posted a notice to readers that called into question allegations freelance editorial cartoonist and columnist Ted Rall made in a column describing an “ugly scene” experience with the LAPD during a 2001 Jaywalking citation. After the article ran, the LAPD provided the paper with audio and other evidence that some of the allegations in the column were not substantiated and as a result the LA Times said they were no longer going to run his work. Since then Ted has waged a relentless campaign on social media and media interviews trying to convince the public that his allegations have been vindicated, that there was an conspiracy to have him dropped from the paper and that the paper has ceased all comment or responses to his conspiracies or allegations.
Today, the paper through their Ombudsman, has responded, but not with the apology or restitution that Ted has been campaigning for.
The LA Times piece is lengthy and reads like a “he said, she said” piece, but here are the important points:
- The LA Times hired two independent “forensic audio experts” who have both experience testifying in court cases regarding audio, to analyze the audio recordings. They allegedly refute Ted’s allegations that the audio was spliced or edited by the LAPD and both experts state they can hear no indication that anyone mentioned the word “handcuffs” – something that Ted’s independent audio experts, who produced enhanced audio recordings, say is audible.
- The LA Times released evidence (audio recordings of an officer leaving voice mail) that the LAPD did on several occasions attempt to contact Ted to get his side of the complaint that he filed shortly after the 2001 citation as well as the letter that was sent to him stating they had closed the investigation. Ted allegedly told the Times that never contact him.
- The LA Times researched several other accounts where Ted has written about this 2001 citation. The accounts are consistent with an accusation of being handcuffed and roughed up. Only the account that he wrote for the LA Times includes mention of a second officer showing up or the angry crowd. Earlier accounts specify that Ted’s wallet was thrown in the gutter, his Times piece he states it was his driver license.
- The LA Times interviewed the officer (now retired) who cited Ted for Jaywalking, who says he remembers the citation because the “encounter was free of rancor and he was surprised when Rall filed a complaint”. The LAPD paint the officer as ‘a non-problem officer,? ?a nice guy? and ?a hard worker’.
As you can imagine, Ted isn’t pleased with the Times’s response and has attacked it on his blog. He posts 14 counter-points which are harder to summarize because they’re scattered – most of them are tit-for-tat responses to various pieces of the Times article. Regarding the four points I summarized above, here are Ted’s responses:
- Ted questions the credentials of the two audio forensic experts. Ed Primeau is a “a media guy who does audio forensics on the side” and Catalin Grigoras “has some impressive credentials, but having a PhD doesn?t make you correct”. The Times has not tried to enhance the audio files like Ted has.
- Ted maintains that he never received a message from the LAPD but when he contacted them, “they told me nothing.”
- Ted admits earlier accounts mentioned his wallet being tossed in the gutter instead of his driver license, but he maintains he had that detail correct in the LA Times piece.
- Officer Will Durr, who issued the citation, maintains that he’s never handcuffed anyone while issuing a jaywalking citation. Ted points out that he has handcuffed someone during a ticketing for illegal street racing. The LAPD paints the officer as ?a non-problem officer,? ?a nice guy? and ?a hard worker? – which is exactly what you’d expect from the LAPD.
Feel free to read the rest for your self for the other points.
I’m not sure where this issue goes from here. Ted has the right to turn this into a legal case of some kind if he chooses, but I’m not sure what the outcome would be. Until then, we are the jury of public opinion on whether we believe Ted’s story is accurate or whether it (or parts) were exaggerated. Today, LA Times doubled down on the latter.
One thought on “After three weeks of silence the LA Times responds back to Ted Rall”
As someone who has frequently worked with Ted Rall in the past, and was calling him on a regular basis during this time period (as we finished collaborating on “Attitude: The New Subversive Alternative Political Cartoonists”), I can assure you that that is NOT Ted Rall’s voice on the answering machine, or the greeting message he was using at time ? which means the LAPD was calling the wrong number.
So, while the police can maintain that they made “every effort” to reach Mr. Rall, he never received any of the alleged six phone calls they made. I’m not even going to bother to speculate how or why this happened, just that it doesn’t clear the police of responsibility for following up. (To wit, if I sent a check off in the mail for a parking ticket and got the address wrong, I seriously doubt they would let that late fee penalty slide. It goes both ways.)
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