FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

L.A. Police Union Bought Newspaper Stock, Used Leverage to Try to Fire Editorial Staffers It Accused of Being Anti-Police

On July 27 the Los Angeles Times fired me as its editorial cartoonist, announcing my dismissal with a humiliating “Editor’s Note” that (falsely) accused me of being a liar and fabulist.

Not everyone was unhappy about my ouster.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) soon published a gloating blog post “applaud[ing] the L.A. Times firing of cartoonist Ted Rall.”

I wasn’t surprised they didn’t like me. Since 2009, I drew more than a dozen cartoons criticizing the LAPD as overly militarized, violently abusive of civilians and inept.

Even so, the police union blog went over the top.

“So many within the LAPD were pleasantly surprised…We especially appreciate the Times’ reaction, as the media in general often seems eager to publish material portraying law enforcement in a negative light,” the LAPPL wrote in a blog (which vanished into 404-dom after The Guardian wrote about it this past Saturday).

The LAPPL statement contained a thinly-veiled threat aimed at other journalists critical of law enforcement: “We hope other news publications will take note of the Times’ willingness to hear and respond to the other side of the story and look at the facts.”

According to the Los Angeles Times’ Note penned by editorial page editor Nick Goldberg, “the Los Angeles Police Department has provided records about the incident,” including the audiotape (probably spliced) initially used to discredit me.

But the LAPD categorically denied being the source of the tape.

If not the LAPD, who gave the tape to the Times? And if it was someone other than the LAPD, snowdenrallwhy did Goldberg lie about the source in his Editor’s Note?

One possibility: the LAPPL.

Back in 2001, after I filed an Internal Affairs complaint against LAPD Officer Will Durr for falsely charging me with jaywalking and being rude and unprofessional, Durr no doubt attended a hearing about my complaint. (I wasn’t invited to attend.) As a member of the LAPPL, he would have had the right to bring his union representative to this meeting.

Did the LAPPL union rep snatch a copy of my file — and a dub of the LAPD audiotape? If so, did he add it to a “just in case” stash of purloined LAPD evidence at LAPPL headquarters, where it sat until earlier this year?

If the LAPPL used the audiotape of my jaywalking arrest to get me fired from the Times, this behavior would be consistent with the union’s attitude that their pension fund’s ownership of substantial portions of stock in a newspaper or its parent company buys it the right to get rid of editorial staffers whose work it deems insufficiently supportive of the police.

In 2009, the LAPPL (which then represented firefighters as well as cops) pension fund invested $30 million in Platinum Equity, a private Beverly Hills equity firm that owned the San Diego Union-Tribune. On May 21, 2009, the Los Angeles Times reported: “As League President Paul M. Weber views it, that makes the League part owner in the flagging Tribune and League officials are none to happy with the paper’s consistent position that San Diego lawmakers should cut back on salaries and benefits for public employees in order to help close gaping budget deficits.”

“Since the very public employees they continually criticize are now their owners, we strongly believe that those who currently run the editorial pages should be replaced,” Weber wrote in a March 26, 2009 letter to Platinum CEO Tom Gores.

More from the 2009 Times story: “Weber, in an interview, emphasized that the League is not demanding changes in the paper’s news coverage of the issue or in its staff of reporters. ‘It’s just these people on the opinion side. There is not even an attempt to be even-handed. They’re one step away from saying, ‘these public employees are parasites,’’ Weber said.”

Nowadays the $18.4 billion LAPPL pension fund is managed by Oaktree Capital. Oaktree is the single largest stockholder of Tribune Publishing, parent company of the Los Angeles Times.

Does the LAPPL still believe its pension fund “ownership” of newspapers entitles it to change out “these people on the opinion side”?

It would certainly be consistent with my firing at the behest of the LAPD — or perhaps more precisely, the LAPPL.

More articles by:

Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for ANewDomain.net, is the author of the book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
November 11, 2019
Aaron Goings, Brian Barnes, and Roger Snider
Class War Violence: Centralia 1919
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
“Other Than Honorable?” Veterans With “Bad Paper” Seek Long Overdue Benefits
Peter Linebaugh
The Worm in the Apple
Joseph Natoli
In the Looming Shadow of Civil War
Robert Fisk
How the Syrian Democratic Forces Were Suddenly Transformed into “Kurdish Forces”
Patrick Cockburn
David Cameron and the Decline of British Leadership
Naomi Oreskes
The Greatest Scam in History: How the Energy Companies Took Us All
Fred Gardner
Most Iraq and Afghanistan Vets now Regret the Mission
Howard Lisnoff
The Dubious Case of Washing Machines and Student Performance
Nino Pagliccia
The Secret of Cuba’s Success: International Solidarity
Binoy Kampmark
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections
Kim C. Domenico
To Overthrow Radical Evil, Part II: A Grandmother’s Proposal
Marc Levy
Veterans’ Day: Four Poems
Weekend Edition
November 08, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
The Real Constitutional Crisis: The Constitution
Sarah Shenker
My Friend Was Murdered for Trying to Save the Amazon
Rob Urie
Left is the New Right, or Why Marx Matters
Andrew Levine
What Rises to the Level of Impeachability?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Enter Sondland
Matthew Hoh
And the Armies That Remained Suffer’d: Veterans, Moral Injury and Suicide
Kirkpatrick Sale
2020: The Incipient Bet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Growing Ecological Civilization in China
Conn Hallinan
Middle East: a Complex Re-alignment
Robert Hunziker
Ignoring Climate Catastrophes
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Repatriate the Children of the Jihad
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Neoliberalism’s Children Rise Up to Demand Justice in Chile and the World
John McMurtry
From Canada’s Election to Public Action: Beyond the Moral Tumor of Alberta Tar-Sands
Pete Dolack
Pacifica’s WBAI Back on the Air But Fight for Non-Corporate Radio Continues
Steven Krichbaum
Eating the Amazon
Louis Proyect
A Socialist Party in Our Time?
Norman Solomon
The Crass Warfare of Billionaires Against Sanders and Warren
Ramzy Baroud
Microsoft Should Not Fund Israeli Spying on Palestinians
Ben Terrall
Nelson Algren and the Pathologies of Life in the USA
John Kendall Hawkins
Flying Leaps, 30 Years Later
Roger Harris
Sierra Club Takes a Commendable Turn on Population, Climate Change, and Inequality
Martha Rosenberg
A New Disease Big Meat Doesn’t Want You to Know About
Dan Bacher
Illegal Loggers Murder Indigenous Forest Guardian in Brazilian Amazon
Christopher Brauchli
The Contemptible Secretary DeVos
Ralph Nader
America’s Streets and Squares Are Waiting: Massive Rallies Work!
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
New Mexico Postcard: The Call of the Sandhill Cranes
Ted Rall
Progressives Care More About Taking the Democratic Party Than Getting Rid of Trump
Philip Doe
Just Another Whitewash: the Federal Investigation of the Firestone Fracking Fire in Colorado 
Dean Baker
The Problems with the “Swiss Model”
Jesse Jackson
A Long Overdue Debate on Medicare-for-All
Brett Wilkins
30 Years Ago, American Nun Dianna Ortiz Was Kidnapped and Tortured in Guatemala, She’s Still Waiting for Truth & Justice
Mel Gurtov
From President to Autocrat
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail