Tag Archives: Tribune Publishing

Read the Documents Here! LA Times Responds to Cartoonist Ted Rall’s anti-SLAPP Appeal

I sued the LA Times for wrongful termination and defamation in 2016. The Times responded with an anti-SLAPP motion asking the court to order me to pay them hundreds of thousands of dollars in their legal fees. They prevailed at the trial court level.

In 2017 I filed my anti-SLAPP appeal to the California Court of Appeals. Now the Times has responded to my appeal with their own brief.

Here are the relevant documents:

My Opening Brief for my anti-SLAPP appeal:

Ted Rall vs. Los Angeles Times: anti-SLAPP Appellate Brief by Ted Rall on Scribd

The Times’ Respondents Brief:

LA Times’ Respondents Brief for anti-SLAPP Motion in Ted Rall v. Ted Rall et al. by Ted Rall on Scribd

Now we are working on our response to their response. We will post our response brief here after it is finished and filed. After we file that, the court will advise of a date when they will hear my anti-SLAPP appeal.

Obviously my attorneys and I have thoughts about the Times’ arguments as stated in their brief, but Times attorney Kelli Sager reads my blog (hi!) so it would be unwise for me to say anything here about what we think.

However, thousands of heads are better than three! We might be missing something important in this struggle for free speech and against police control of the press. So if you have any thoughts about any of this, please comment here or feel free to contact me directly at rall.com/contact. Thank you for your support!

SYNDICATED COLUMN: The “Thin Grey Line” — The Media’s Conspiracy of Silence on Defamation and Libel

Even the shirt is “fake news.” Look at the text. It’s not actually printed on the fabric. (from LATimes.com)

I am suing for the Los Angeles Times and the $638 million newspaper conglomerate Tronc for the defamation and wrongful termination they carried out as a favor for the chief of Los Angeles Police Department.

I don’t know how things will turn out. But I have learned a lot about the justice system.

            I’ve learned there’s a “Thin Grey Line” — a conspiracy of silence that media outlets use to shield one another from public scrutiny and accountability. It’s not President Trump’s supposed “fake news.”

It’s No News At All.

A black hole.

If media misconduct falls in the woods, whatever sound it makes receives no coverage in “rival” media outlets.

The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 movie describing how police protect one another from allegations of wrongdoing by clamming up about what they know, leading to the railroading of an innocent man. Similarly, media organizations conspire to keep allegations of libel and other wrongdoing out of the public eye. You don’t cover my bad behavior and I won’t cover yours.

Of course, some libel lawsuits are too big to ignore. In those cases the Thin Grey Line slants their coverage to make the victims look like petulant crybabies or greedy pro-censorship fascists.

I learned about the Thin Grey Line when I reached out to media organizations about my situation with the LA Times. Although certain outlets did a good job covering my case — the UK Guardian and the New York Observer stood out — big papers like the New York Times and Washington Post wouldn’t touch it.

“Cartoonist Critical of Police Fired as Favor to LAPD after LAPD Pension Fund Buys Major Interest in LA Times’ Parent Company” has all the components of a major story: big guy crushes little guy, privacy violations, secret police spying on citizens going back decades, ugly conflicts of interest, a police department pension fund that bought newspaper stock so it could leverage it into editorial control of major newspapers, a criminal conspiracy at the highest levels of local government.

If the villain wasn’t a media company, a media outlet would be all over it.

Most U.S. media outlets ignored my story. Most that put out reports were either online-only or based overseas.

Some, like NPR, explained that my story required investigative reporting for which they didn’t have a budget.

Rall v. Los Angeles Times is a natural fit for The Intercept, the news site dedicated to the Snowden revelations and perfidy by government and the press. Indeed, an Intercept reporter worked the story, spending hours talking to me. Then he took it to his editors — who killed it. Was someone higher on the food chain connected to the Times or LAPD? Were they reluctant to take on a fellow media outlet? All I know is, the guy never called me back. That’s unusual to say the least.

Historically, problems at the local daily newspaper have been red meat to an alternative newsweekly, the scrappy underdog in many metro media markets. New York’s late Village Voice used to love taking on the Times, Post and Daily News. But things are different now. Journalists who follow Los Angeles are shocked that LA Weekly won’t cover my two-year-old lawsuit.

Major libel verdicts against media outlets get buried by the Thin Grey Line. A jury dunned the Raleigh News & Observer $9 million for libel in 2016. Two Cal Coast Weekly writers owe their defamation victim $1.1 million as of 2017. You probably didn’t hear about those.

But you probably did hear about Hulk Hogan’s $140 million libel verdict against Gawker, which put the site out of business. Most coverage bemoaned the supposed effect on press freedom, not Gawker’s crazy decision to publish a video of Hogan having sex or to keep it online after Hogan’s lawyer offered to let the whole thing go for zero cash if Gawker took it down.

            Legacy media still hasn’t figured out the Internet. But they’re good at propaganda. Exploiting Trump’s bombastic “fake news” broadsides against the press, they’re casting themselves as party organs of the anti-Trump “Resistance.”

“Democracy dies in darkness,” The Washington Post tells its readers.

“The truth is more important now than ever,” quoth The New York Times.

Hilariously, The Los Angeles Times: “Speaking truth to power.” (But not to the chief of police!)

            As a journalist and satirist who relies on the First Amendment, I am sympathetic to worries that news outlets might self-censor due to the threat of libel suits. But corporate media looks ridiculous when they portray every defamation and libel plaintiff as sinister threats to press freedom. And it’s downright silly to pretend that every libel and defamation case is inherently frivolous.

“The $140 million payout mandated by a Florida court in Hogan’s privacy case against Gawker, which was bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, was a chilling development for media companies that are already battling to keep costs down,” Keith Gessen wrote in Columbia Journalism Review.

Nowhere in Gessen’s piece did he mention that Gawker could have saved every penny of that $140 million by exercising a modicum of editorial judgment. Or that Thiel’s role merely leveled the playing field between an individual and a (then-) deep-pocketed media outlet.

The Hogan verdict is only “chilling” to publications so arrogant and stupid as to fight for the right to gratuitously publish material that can ruin a person’s life — material with zero news value — without a legal leg to stand on.

Based on the coverage of the Gawker-Hogan coverage I’ve read since the 2016 verdict, most media outlets are still pushing the Thin Grey Line narrative that Hogan had no grounds to complain. I say that Hogan has the right not to have his sex acts posted to the Internet without his permission.

Thin Grey Line aside, I bet most people agree with me.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Francis: The People’s Pope.” You can support Ted’s independent political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

Updates: My Stupid Eyes, The Stupid LA Times

Thanks to everyone who has been supportive over my struggle against a severe case of viral conjunctivitis. I am both sorry and happy to report that there hasn’t been a significant improvement in my vision. On the other hand, it hasn’t gotten worse. It isn’t unheard of for these cases to drag on for months or even over a year. Basically, I can see but things are blurry. And while the itching and pain are gone, there’s still a lot of tearing. Of course, seasonal pollen doesn’t help. Anyway, it goes on.

Speaking of pains in the ass that won’t go away, the Los Angeles Times is continuing its campaign of McCarthyist retaliation against me for taking on the LAPD (whose pension fund effectively owned the parent company of the LA Times at the time). Yesterday they filed the first of three — of a second set! — of anti-SLAPP motions directed against me. Their goal: to bankrupt me by forcing me to pay their legal fees! That’s right: a $500 million corporation wants to make me pay at least $300,000 to them. (They paid me $300/week before they fired me in a corrupt secret deal with LAPD Chief Charlie Beck.)

I am suing the LA Times for defamation, wrongful termination and blacklisting, as well as other charges related to their publication of two libelous pieces about me in which they described me as a liar even though I was telling the truth. The Times is terrified that my case will get in front of a jury, so they’re abusing the anti-SLAPP statute — which was designed to protect small-time individual whistleblowers against big corporate institutions like the Times — to try to bankrupt me.

You can learn about the Times’ sleazy tactics and contribute if you are so moved here.

My lawyers are preparing their response to the Times’ disgusting anti-SLAPP motion this week.

SYNDICATED COLUMN: Cops Gone Wild! Police Unions Are Killing Our Freedoms

Police unions are out of control.

Earlier this year, Baltimore cops murdered Freddie Gray by chaining him up and intentionally swerving and repeatedly slamming on the breaks. Rather than telling their members to behave professionally, however, the head of the city’s police union attacked people who protested Gray’s death, smearing them as — of all things! — “a lynch mob.”

About a year ago, the leader of New York’s police union reacted to the assassination of two Brooklyn cops as they sat in their squad car by declaring that newly-elected mayor Bill de Blasio had “blood on his hands” — because he hadn’t been sufficiently pro-cop. (There is no evidence that the killer ever heard of Bill de Blasio.)

Now the Fraternal Order of Police is threatening one of the United States’ most acclaimed film directors.

FOP executive director Jim Pasco, threatened Quentin Tarantino, who helmed “Pulp Fiction” and numerous other major movies, in The Hollywood Reporter. “Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element. Something could happen anytime between now and (the premiere). And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable. The right time and place will come up and we’ll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that’s economically.”

Charming.

Tarantino’s “crime,” in the eyes of “there’s blue, then there’s you” cops: he attended a Black Lives Matter rally, where he said he was against murderers, and for the murdered.

There’s only one logical inference. According to the police, Black Lives Do Not Matter. By their wicked logic, we should support murderous cops, not murdered civilians.

If you don’t toe the line? “Instead of dealing with the incidents of police brutality that those people were bringing up, instead of examining the problem of police brutality in this country, better they single me out,” Tarantino told The Los Angeles Times. “And their message is very clear. It’s to shut me down. It’s to discredit me. It is to intimidate me. It is to shut my mouth, and even more important than that, it is to send a message out to any other prominent person that might feel the need to join that side of the argument.”

Jacobin magazine’s description of these organizations as “The Bad Kind of Unionism” is putting it mildly. The only people they “protect and serve” is themselves — the people be damned.

It’s ironic that that Tarantino quote comes from the LA Times. The Times, you see, is owned by Tribune Publishing. Whose number-one shareholder is a private equity firm called Oaktree Capital. Which manages the pension fund of the LAPD police union, the LAPPL (Police Protective League).

The LAPPL is one of the free-speech-hating fascist police unions threatening Tarantino. And the LAPPL appears to have gotten the Times to fire me as its political cartoonist — using quickly-discredited evidence — because I criticized the LAPD for the fact that they’re violently militarized and lousy at their jobs.

After I was fired, the LAPPL issued a press release. “So many within the LAPD were pleasantly surprised at the recent firing of Los Angeles Times opinion cartoonist Ted Rall,” the union said. “We hope other news publications will take note…” (They removed it from the Internet after the outcry over my firing.)

When you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. That’s cops in the year 2015. They want to shoot and torture and rob and harass us. Without fear of punishment.

They can’t even stand criticism.

So they go after cartoonists. And film directors.

Reporters, too.

A former journalist — the “former” comes courtesy of the cops who leaned on his cowardly excuse for an editor to fire him — in Baker City, Oregon is suing Baker City and its freedom-hating police chief for making his life miserable. After the Baker City Record-Courier let Brian Addison go as a favor to Baker City PD in 2008, the cops followed his car around, repeatedly stopping him. When he landed another job, not in journalism, in 2014, the cops got him fired again — using a falsified “dossier” that indicated he had a criminal background. He didn’t.

What did Addison do to piss off the po-po?

He wrote an editorial complaining about an incident at a high school girls basketball game, where the fuzz walked a drug-sniffing dog through the stands during halftime. Addison’s editorial pointed out, correctly, that this was a disgusting violation of basic Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches.

Unions are an essential bulwark against gangster capitalism. Public-sector unions are just as necessary as private-sector ones. But these police — and their unions — have got to go.

Every police department in the country should be disbanded. All the cops should be fired. It’s time to start from scratch — and replace them with civilian-run organizations designed to protect us.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the new book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower. Want to support independent journalism? You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)

COPYRIGHT 2015 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

LAPD Tampered with Audiotape LA Times Used to Fire Me – Which Has Now Vindicated Me

Originally published by ANewDomain:

Ted Rall-LAPD-LATimes Battle: New Tape Proves Cops Lied [exclusive]

EXCLUSIVE — Audio engineers hired by Ted Rall and aNewDomain today released a cleaner version of an audio tape Los Angeles police used to convince Los Angeles Times editors to fire political essayist and cartoonist Ted Rall early this week. It is damning.

On the tape, you can clearly hear a female bystander shouting at the LAPD officer who’d stopped Rall for jaywalking to “take off his handcuffs.” She yells this twice. Officer Will Durr responds first with a “No, no, no … ” and then by whistling loudly into the mic. Listen for yourself, below.

The LAPD and the Times have been claiming that the original version of the tape, released on Monday, proved the officer did not handcuff Rall or otherwise rough him up as Rall had written in a May 2015 Times column. They claimed the tape proved Rall was lying. That was the basis for the Times abruptly dumping him this week. But this newly enhanced tape clearly proves that the cops are lying — and it even suggests cops might have knowingly tampered with the tape. Why? We’re pursuing this developing story. For now, here’s what Ted Rall has to say about the tape and what you’ll hear on it. – Ed

aNewDomain — We now have an enhanced version of the LAPD tape that cops used to convince the Los Angeles Times to fire me as its political cartoonist and blogger this week.

On the cleaned-up version of the tape, which you can hear below, just advance the recording to minute 3:30. You’ll hear a female witness, one the LAPD told my former editors at the Times I was lying about, and one they said didn’t exist, on the tape. She protests: “He was just jaywalking …  you need to take off … you need to take off his handcuffs.”

She says that at 3:30 and repeats it at 3:50.

To this, LAPD Officer Will Durr replies: “No, no, no, no, no.”

When she persists in protesting the cop’s handcuffing me, LAPD officer Durr whistles. At the time of the incident, I was puzzled by his whistling, which is unusual behavior for a cop. Now I believe it’s his technique to tamp down sounds (like her) that he doesn’t want on the recording. (The recorder was on his uniform, secretly.) Any way you look at it, though, this proves he and the LAPD are lying: Cops lied when they said that I didn’t get handcuffed, lied when they said I lied about the presence of protesting witnesses, and lied when they went to my Times editors and called me a liar.

Listen for yourself:

So we know the officer deliberately used whistling to alter the recording. It is also clear that he deliberately muffled it.

It’s the media’s job to question authority, not to blindly defend it and execute on its behalf.

Even in its defense of the LAPD, the LAT couldn’t be bothered to do due diligence. Editors made no effort to investigate long-time traffic cop Will Durr’s bizarre claims that he has never ever handcuffed anyone. We disproved that cop’s lie yesterday. They didn’t even bother searching their own website.

If they can’t type “Will Durr” into a search field, how can they be bothered to track down a sound engineer in L friggin A?

Classic Streisand Effect: In their attempt to discredit me and destroy my reputation as a journalist, they wound up discrediting themselves and further eroding their own reputation, which has already been destroyed by decades of police brutality, systematic corruption and fatal police shootings of one unarmed black man after another.

Two shorter clips, enhanced differently, follow. Listen to them, below.

So the cops lied. And there are other questions …

The main question is: Why? Why would they lie?

The audio tape was not a public record. No one requested my permission, required under California law, to release it. Did The Los Angeles Times file the required papers to get it?

Did The Los Angeles Times approach the LAPD to request the tape, or did the cops (or a third party, like the LAPPL police union, or the pension fund for cops) approach them?

Did the LAPPL (the police union) which has been gloating on its blog that the Ted Rall incident should be a “lesson” other media outlets should learn from — go out of their way to get me out?

Why would the LAPD spend taxpayer money to dig out an ancient audio tape and go to the trouble of doctoring it, if they did, and transcribing it, which they did, and walking it over to the Times to get me fired?

Under LA law and LAPD rules, an officer must include contemporaneous date, location and other identifying data within each uninterrupted recorded incident — otherwise it’s a violation of citizens’ privacy rights. That info isn’t on the tape, which means it was either illegal, or it was spliced out/tampered with. Which was it?

Also, was it illegal for the Times or the LAPD to get the tape, which isn’t public information, without my approval? Our legal analyst Tom Ewing will be following up with analysis around that question later in the day.

Does the fact that a big chunk of The Los Angeles Times is now owned by Oaktree Capital, an investment firm that itself is powered by billions in investment from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Fund, have anything to do with this?

This pension fund, points out investigative reporter Gina Smith, has previously demanded firings of editorial writers and commentators at a San Diego daily, one that the LA Times’ parent company, Tribune Publishing, just bought. Watch for that report, too.

Notes on Audio Enhancement Methodology

The long enhanced version posted here was processed by a technician who wishes to remain anonymous because he lives in Los Angeles, is African-American, and has frequently been harassed by the LAPD. Here is his statement about how he was able to isolate the sound of the eyewitness to me being handcuffed —  the one who the Times said didn’t exist, about an act the LAPD said never happened: “I used a noise reduction plugin to diminish hiss, handling, and street noise. An equalizer cuts low frequency rumble and boosts the upper mid range to enhance intelligibility. A limiter brings up the overall volume.”

A different person, who lives near Los Angeles and also prefers to remain anonymous because she fears retaliation by the LAPD, used this longer version to create the two shorter clips. She said: “I’m using audio repair software to remove surface/street noise with de-noise filters, and an equalizer targeting the vocal ranges of the bystanders.”

I have hired a professional audio technician based in Los Angeles to further clean up the tape provided by the LAPD. I will post the results when I get them.

Additional reporting: Gina Smith, Nancy Imperiale and Tom Ewing of aNewDomain and SkewedNews.