LA Times turning anti-SLAPP law on its head
I’m Ted Rall. I’m a 52-year-old syndicated political cartoonist, columnist and occasional war correspondent in New York.
This is your chance to help defend free speech and freedom of the press against the police. This is also an extremely urgent fundraising effort in which the money is needed on or before Wednesday, August 17. It also has a unique aspect: there’s a chance you’ll get your money back.
In July of 2015, Charlie Beck, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, colluded with publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Austin Beutner, to terminate award-winning artist Ted Rall from his position as principal Editorial Cartoonist at the LA Times. Their purpose: to censor Rall’s consistent, principled criticism of police brutality and corruption.
Charlie Beck, Chief, LAPD
A Rall cartoon mocking Chief Beck.
The LAPD and specifically Beck have been the target of numerous critical Rall cartoons since 2009. In 2015, Beck illegally passed unofficial documents to the LA Times that supposedly proved that Rall had lied about a police encounter from 2001. He hadn’t. These documents were carefully cherry-picked in order to misrepresent the truth and smear Rall. The Times didn’t bother to check if they were legitimate. Rall was nevertheless fired within less than a day, without an investigation, without consulting his editors, without even being brought into the office to discuss what really happened in 2001.
The May 2015 cartoon by Ted Rall in the LA Times that prompted LAPD Chief Beck to demand Rall’s firing.
This violated the paper’s own Ethical Guidelines, which state: “People who will be shown in an adverse light must be given a meaningful opportunity to defend themselves. This means making a good-faith effort to give the subject of allegations or criticism sufficient time and information to respond substantively. Whenever possible, the reporter should meet directly with the subject in a sincere effort to understand his or her best arguments.”
Austin Beutner, billionaire, ex-publisher, LA Times
Smoking gun: Deposition that reveals the secret meeting between Beutner and Beck, where they conspired to fire Rall as a favor to Beck. Violating its own Ethical Guidelines, the Times continues to protect Beck as an anonymous source.
Not only this, Beutner’s corporation has a history of colluding with police to fire critical journalists. At the San Diego Union-Tribune in 2009, “anti-cop” members of the editorial board were targeted for dismissal after the LAPPL police union bought stock in the company. At the time of Rall’s firing, the LAPD union was the #1 shareholder of Tribune Publishing , the parent company of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune . (The police union even gloated over Rall’s firing on their blog.)
The Los Angeles Police Protective League’s blog gloating over Rall’s firing. The LAPPL has since taken it down.
To defend his account of events, Rall hired an audio company to analyze the police audio tape used to fire him. Extensive analysis revealed that Rall had been telling the truth about the encounter all along, but the Times provided no comment and no retraction until three weeks later — after outrage over Rall’s firing went viral online — when they provided their own forensic analysis which supposedly found less evidence on the tape. It later turned out that the Times had again lied to their readers about what exactly their experts had discovered.
The publisher of the Pasadena Weekly, where Ted used to draw before he went to the Times, confirms that local law enforcement officials repeatedly pressured him to fire Ted.
The Association of American Editorial Cartoonists has issued a formal statement demanding an independent investigation of the Times’ actions.
R.C. Harvey of The Comics Journal, which has been critical of Ted in the past, has a detailed account that supports Ted.
Even right-wing bloggers — Ted is progressive — are on Ted’s side.
Angry LA Times subscribers’ comments supporting Rall.
In the aftermath of the Ted Rall scandal, Beutner was unceremomiously fired and escorted out of the Times building by security guards. He wasn’t even allowed to use his latimes.com email account to say goodbye.
Details of GoFundMe thank you premiums at https://www.gofundme.com/tedrall