Tag Archives: Will Durr

OVERVIEW: About my firing by the LA Times as a favor to the LAPD

Almost two weeks ago, the LA Times fired me as their editorial cartoonist, where I’d been since 2009.

Editor Nick Goldberg told me it was because I’d lied in a blog post for the LA Times about how an LAPD cop treated me during a 2001 arrest for jaywalking. They based this on an LAPD audiotape of the arrest. You can read my account of the arrest here.

But when I had the tape analyzed – after Goldberg hastily fired me – it showed that it was the LAPD that is lying, not me. (Goldberg didn’t bother to analyze the tape.) Moreover, the LAPD tape was probably tampered with to try to put the cop in a better light than he’d behaved.

The Times knows they were wrong, yet they’re refusing to reverse their decision, apologize, or retract ” A Note to Readers” that calls me a liar and a fabulist, from latimes.com. The LAPD police union posted a gloaty sinister blog post threatening other journalists to toe the line lest they be next but perhaps they’re feeling the heat, so it’s down now.

Here’s an overview of the sordid affair.

  • Start with this Timeline of Events by ANewDomain.net, where most of the breaking news has been and will continue to be released as it comes out. It contains links to most aND’s coverage. (Skip down to the boldface article below if you’re in a hurry and just want to listen to the audiotape.)
  • LISTEN to the full, professionally produced audio enhancement. Click here if you’re in a hurry and to read a detailed transcript that reveals an angry crowd and proof that my blog for the LA Times was accurate. If you’re still having trouble hearing it, and/or have time to wait for a large download, here is the higher-quality WAV file.

Here is my initial response to my firing, before I had the LAPD tape enhanced.

The LA Times told me the LAPD told me the arresting officer never used cuffs, ever. But he did – in the pages of the LA Times: “A Discrepancy In The Cop’s Story”  by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)

Listen to the Tapes:

Listen to a rough version of the audio enhancement where you can hear an angry woman shouting “Take off his handcuffs!”

Media Coverage (in reverse chronological order):

(* = good places to start)

Cartoonist fired by LA Times after LAPD arrest says evidence ‘spliced and edited’ (by Steven W. Thrasher, The Guardian)

Project Censored: “A remarkable case of censorship” (Project Censored/Pacifica Radio – 1 hour radio interview)

Los Angeles Times Defends Firing Ted Rall, Editorial Cartoonist And Fierce LAPD Critic (by Brendan James, International Business Times)

* Rall’s Deal: Controversial cartoonist Ted Rall fights for his professional life after being fired by the LA Times (by Kevin Ulrich, Pasadena Weekly)

Was Ted Rall Wrongfully Fired From LA Times? (Video) (Huffington Post Live)

* Fired Los Angeles Times cartoonist hits back at newspaper for siding with LAPD (by Sam Thielman, The Guardian)

Ted Rall’s Fight With The LAPD Happens To You (by Ken Womble, Mimesis Law)

Ted Rall Matters (Rob Rogers blog)

US Cartoonist Ted Rall Versus the LA Times (Cartoon Movement, Netherlands)

* Cartoonists call for review of tape used as evidence to cut ties with Ted Rall (Poynter.org)

American Association of Editorial Cartoonists Calls for Independent Investigation into LAPD Tape Used to Fire Rall (Daily Cartoonist)

The Strange Case of the LA Times Cartoonist Fired for Being Too-Critical of LA Police (Orange Beach Rag)

Did The LAPD Have A Political Cartoonist Fired? by Ryan Steadman and Guelda Voien (The New York Observer)

‘Cleaned-Up’ Audiotape of Political Cartoonist’s Clash With LAPD Bolsters His Story by Hunter Harris (news story, New York Observer)

In Defense of Ted Rall, A Hard Guy To Defend by Ken Kurson (editorial, New York Observer)

The LA Times fired a journalist after cops told them he lied—but did they investigate? by Rob Beschizza (Boing Boing)

Cops Gun Down Unarmed Journalist’s Career  by investigative reporter Greg Palast (Reader Supported News)

Why Won’t The L.A. Times Admit They Were Wrong About Cartoonist Ted Rall? by Susie Madrak (Crooks and Liars)

LA Times Fires, Publicly Shames Editorial Cartoonist Ted Rall (Mike Lynch Cartoons blog)

Reporting by me and others at aNewDomain.net:

LA Times Responds to Charges That It Fired Me as A Favor to LAPD by Ted Rall

Why The Ted Rall LA Times Scandal Matters So Much (legal analysis by Tom Ewing, aNewDomain.net)

Rall Vindicated, LAPD And LA Times under Fire by Tom Ewing and Gina Smith, aNewDomain.net

The LAPPL applauds L.A. Times firing of cartoonist Ted Rall (LA Police Union Blog gloating, and threatening other journalists)

14 Years Ago, A Woman Vindicated Me Now by Ted Rall (Common Dreams)

Editor: LA Times “Cannot Comment” On Ted Rall. Why? By Gina Smith (aNewDomain)

 

Finally, here’s how you can help.

 

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.