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April 06, 2008

Bad Rap at Los Angeles Times

james-sabatino-big.jpe
According to blog Smoking Gun, criminal James Sabatino (above) forged a FBI document about the attack on rapper Tupac Shukar. The false document was the basis of a major investigative report at the Times

The Los Angeles Times, once again, has had to issue a lengthy apology after relying on a fabricated document in an investigative report about a 1994 violent attack on rapper Tupac Shukar. An excerpt of the apology follows:

A Los Angeles Times story about a brutal 1994 attack on rap superstar Tupac Shakur was partially based on documents that appear to have been fabricated, the reporter and editor responsible for the story said Wednesday.

Reporter Chuck Philips and his supervisor, Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin, issued statements of apology Wednesday afternoon. The statements came after The Times took withering criticism for the Shakur article, which appeared on latimes.com last week and two days later in the paper's Calendar section.

The criticism came first from The Smoking Gun website, which said the newspaper had been the victim of a hoax, and then from subjects of the story, who said they had been defamed.

"In relying on documents that I now believe were fake, I failed to do my job," Philips said in a statement Wednesday. "I'm sorry."

In his statement, Duvoisin added: "We should not have let ourselves be fooled. That we were is as much my fault as Chuck's. I deeply regret that we let our readers down."

Times Editor Russ Stanton announced that the newspaper would launch an internal review of the documents and the reporting surrounding the story. Stanton said he took the criticisms of the March 17 report "very seriously."

"We published this story with the sincere belief that the documents were genuine, but our good intentions are beside the point," Stanton said in a statement.

"The bottom line is that the documents we relied on should not have been used. We apologize both to our readers and to those referenced in the documents and, as a result, in the story. We are continuing to investigate this matter and will fulfill our journalistic responsibility for critical self-examination."

This is not the first time in recent history where the Times has been caught with its pants down. See here and here.

A lawyer for a man falsely accused by the forged document warned that the Times article created "a potentially violent climate in the hip-hop community." If faulty reporting based on fabricated material can lead to violence in the hip-hop world, think of the potential for Mideast violence in the wake of reporting based on fabrications.

Mohammed Al Dura, anyone?

Posted by TS at April 6, 2008 07:08 AM

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