Thursday, July 30, 2015

LA Times Fires Left-Wing Cartoonist Ted Rall

The Los Angeles Times has fired left-wing political cartoonist Ted Rall and will no longer print his cartoons on the Times’ editorial page.

The termination began in response to a May 11, LA Times Opinion blog post, in which Rall reported getting roughed up by LAPD. Rall blogged at the time:

This one is personal.

Just over 10 years ago, I was ticketed – and handcuffed – for an alleged pedestrian violation while crossing Melrose Avenue. Ironically, this was one of the rare times that I was innocent of even jaywalking, something I do every day.

All of a sudden, a motorcycle officer zoomed over, threw me up against the wall, slapped on the cuffs, roughed me up and wrote me a ticket. It was an ugly scene, and in broad daylight it must have looked like one, because within minutes there were a couple of dozen passersby shouting at the cop.

The LAPD dismissed this story, and said that it never happened. Further research into the internal report records confirm the account.

Nicholas Goldberg, LA Times Editorial Pages Editor, released the following statement, explaining the paper’s decision to terminate the cartoonists’ contributions:

In a May 11 post on The Times' OpinionLA blog, Ted Rall — a freelance cartoonist whose work appears regularly in The Times — described an incident in which he was stopped for jaywalking on Melrose Avenue in 2001.

Since then, the Los Angeles Police Department has provided records about the incident, including a complaint Rall filed at the time. An audiotape of the encounter recorded by the police officer does not back up Rall's assertions; it gives no indication that there was physical violence of any sort by the policeman or that Rall's license was thrown into the sewer or that he was handcuffed. Nor is there any evidence on the recording of a crowd of shouting onlookers.
File:Ted Rall.jpg
Ted Rall (Yoshin Yamada)

In Rall's initial complaint to the LAPD, he describes the incident without mentioning any physical violence or handcuffing but says that the police officer was "belligerent and hostile" and that he threw Rall's license into the "gutter." The tape depicts a polite interaction.

In addition, Rall wrote in his blog post that the LAPD dismissed his complaint without ever contacting him. Department records show that internal affairs investigators made repeated attempts to contact Rall, without success.

Asked to explain these inconsistencies, Rall said he stands by his blog post.

As to why he didn't mention any physical abuse in his letter to the LAPD in 2001, Rall said he didn't want to make an enemy of the department, in part because he hosted a local radio talk show at the time. After listening to the tape, Rall noted that it was of poor quality and contained inaudible segments.

However, the recording and other evidence provided by the LAPD raise serious questions about the accuracy of Rall's blog post. Based on this, the piece should not have been published.

Rall's future work will not appear in The Times.

The Los Angeles Times is a trusted source of news because of the quality and integrity of the work its journalists do. This is a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish.

Rall contends his honesty, integrity, and innocence. He shared with CBS Los Angeles:

I would do it all over the same way today,” he said. “I’m disgusted that the Times took the LAPD’s word, based on nothing.”

He said the audio recording misrepresents the officer interaction, since the officer knew he was being recorded and much of the recording is static. He’s hired an audio expert to sift through the recording.

“To say the sound quality is bad is charitable,” Rall said. “There’s nothing on the tape.”
Rall, whose work has also appeared in NYC-based MAD Magazine, has courted controversy before. He once depicted President Obama with ape-like features. Rall denounced any insinuations that he is racist. Nevertheless, The openly progressive news site Daily Kos banned Rall’s work in turn.

In 2006, He also threatened to sue conservative writer Ann Coulter for libel, then backed off by the end of the year. In 2004, and even more recently, Rall faced conservative backlash for depicting former National Security Advisor then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a “house nigga”.

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