Sunday, July 27, 2008

LA Times’ CYA email follows Edwards Gag Order

Friday I posted LA Times' editor's email & MSM's implosion.

Slate’s Micky Kaus had posted LAT Gags Blogs exposing the Los Angeles Times’ banning its bloggers from reporting anything concerning a National Enquirer story about former Sen. John Edwards’ tryst at LA’s Beverly Hilton Hotel with filmmaker “friend” Reille Hunter while a friend in a nearby room watched the baby NE said was the pair’s “love child.”

Kaus’ post included a copy of an email from LAT editor Tony Pierce which included this:

There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.
I noted Pierce's “rumors and salacious speculations” claim was an excuse. The NE story which broke July 22 can be easily confirmed or refuted in part or in whole because of multiple witnesses are named or identified in other ways, specific facts are mentioned and their's a very strong likelihood NE has photos and the hotel security cameras caught a great deal. ( See NE's Edwards-Hunter tryst story's verifiable )

I then said the story would break through the “wall of silence” the LAT and almost all the MSM had thrown up to protect Democrat John Edwards.

I also made an easy prediction about what would happen when the story broke through and offered readers some advice:
When that happens, I don’t doubt we’ll soon hear from editor Pierce that there was no cover-up. The LAT, he’ll say, was “asking questions” and “trying to get more information.”

Don’t believe that. There was plenty for the LAT to follow-up on the moment the National Enquirer’s very important story appeared.
Well the story hasn’t quite broken through yet, but already the LAT is in full CYA mode while still resisting reporting on the story.

LA Observed has obtained and posted an email from LAT's Website executive editor Meredith Artley to LAT's bloggers dated July 25 with the subject head: "Hubbub":
Hi everyone.

Many of you have probably seen the Slate item titled “LAT Gags Blogs” citing Tony’s note asking you all to steer clear of the alleged Edwards affair. It’s now linked to from Drudge, and Gawker has an item too. (JinC’s been posting on it since July 22. - - - JinC)

In the spirit of transparency I want to give some background on this, and to note how in hindsight we might have done things differently to avoid the discontent that led to yet another public poke in the eye.

Various colleagues on the 3rd floor have been working on reporting the story. I made the decision that while we are working on verifying if this has any truth to it, we should stay away from joining the fray. We still don’t know that, and national and metro are still pursuing.

Our message to you (I asked Tony to drop you guys the note) should have been more nuanced. I should have first not encouraged posting on this topic, but if any of you feel that you have a post you really to write, to please discuss it with Tony and myself first since we must always tread carefully on unverified stories.

And I should have explained the thinking behind that decision. The idea was not to muzzle any of you and then walk away – that is never a recipe for success.

Russ, myself, Tony and all the editors you work with trust you guys to engage us in open and frank dialogue on just about anything that’s on your mind, and we’ll do the same. You have our confidence and we expect the same.

We have a strong network thanks to all of the thoughts that many of you have shared, creating better blogs, growing the readership, and staying focused on the work and not the drama. Let’s keep that up and settle for nothing less.

Questions, thoughts, etc? Ask me or Tony.

Meredith Artley
Executive Editor,
I have a few questions for Meredith and Tony:

Two NE reporters have sworn out a complaint claiming hotel security staffers roughed them up. LAPD has to follow up and investigate the complaint. Why haven’t you reported on the complaint and actions, if any, taken by LAPD?

Have you asked to interview hotel security staff and other hotel staffers?

Putting aside the issue of whether hotel security roughed up NE reporters, does hotel management deny anything NE reported as happening at the Beverly Hilton that night?

You know Edwards is widely regarded as a possible vice-presidential nominee on a ticket headed by your candidate or a possible attorney general in his administration. You know the behavior the NE reports, if true, could very well, if not publicly exposed, leave Edwards subject to blackmailers.

Doesn’t that make this a major story, even if it won’t help your fellow Democrats?


Anonymous said...

The difference between the two major parties: when a Republican is caught doing something illegal, sleazy, or morally repugnant, the party makes it clear they are no longer welcome; when a Democrat is caught doing something illegal (William Jefferson); sleazy (Slick Willie Clinton), or morally repugnant (Barney Frank), the party locks arms and defends unto death their fellow Democrat. Moreover, the claim it's all the Republicans' fault. The MSM is fully complicit in this.
And, please, let's not get into the Plame affair, because there has never been one iota of proof that what went down was illegal, sleazy, or morally repugnant except on the part of Plame and the Democrats.
Tarheel Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

While I really want to believe that the press is even handed, Tarheel Hawkeye is correct in his assertion that the reports of John Edwards philandering will be widely procalimed as Republican dirty tricks. Neither party has a corner on virtue and neither has a corner on repugnant activities. The difference is that Republicans are proclaimed as hypocrites when they are caught with their pants unzipped while the Democrats are able to deflect the outrage over their activities by claiming that it is a right wing conspiracy.