Monday, August 10, 2015

LA Times Fires, Publicly Shames Editorial Cartoonist Ted Rall

When your boss fires you, it's a low point. For most people, firing is a private thing. It's just you and your boss and, then, the security guy who escorts you and your cardboard box out of the building.

When your boss later writes in the LA Times that you are a liar, and that the Los Angeles Police Department has proved it -- and THAT is why you were fired, well, that's different. You've been humiliated publicly by one of the biggest newspapers in the country. And with the support of the LAPD.

Ted Rall, who is maybe the most divisive political cartoonist of the day, was fired last month by the LA Times. Why? Because he wrote a column about being ticketed for jaywalking 14 years ago. (Ted writes as well as draws for the LA Times.) The LAPD said that Rall's version of the 2001 arrest was wrong and then produced an audiotape of the incident. (Yes, even in 2001, people were being recorded without their permission/knowledge.)

Nicholas Goldberg, the Times editorial page editor, wrote

“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 . . .”

The Cartoonists Rights Network has the story:

Rall has posted both the police recording provided to the LA Times and an enhanced version of that tape by three sound technicians Rall consulted. In the cleaned-up version of the tape, the cartoonist reports, someone can be heard saying “He was just jaywalking . . . you need to take off . . . you need to take off his handcuffs.” 
Rall had done hard-hitting cartoons for the LA Times since 2009. 
As Rall said in an interview with Sputnick News: “Look, I pissed off cops. I’ve done many anti-LAPD cartoons and essays over the years. The LAPPL [Los Angeles Police Protective League] made clear in their blog that they have long been angered by me, and they are crowing about my dismissal. So, just at a bare minimum, think about how disturbing this is. The LAPD, or the LAPPL, passed illegally — basically stole something out of the evidence room — slipped it to the top editors at the LA Times, one of the biggest and most widely-respected metro-dailies in the United States, in order to get me fired. In order to send a message to other reporters, ‘don’t screw with cops’.”

The LA Times is not commenting, and has directed Ted to contact their legal counsel. (Note: Ted has and, to date, has not received a response.)

Did the LAPD give the LA Times an opportunity to fire a cartoonist who regularly criticized the LAPD? Was this a smear to destroy Ted Rall's reputation? 

This is a bad thing, and we need to speak up for Ted. 

So far, Slate, Salon, the ACLU, the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists have been contacted -- but there is no response. 

Cartoonists: please do not be silent. Tweet, Facebook, Instagram about this. It's wrong and unfair and they could come after another person who draws those "damned pictures" without warning. 


Boing Boing: The LA Times fired a journalist after cops told them he lied—but did they investigate?

No comments: