Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 19, 2015

LA Times Responds At Length To Ted Rall’s Various Charges Of Unfair Dismissal From Freelance Gig

It's here. The lengthy response gives us our first hint at a timeline. If you're following this story as an Internet back-and-forth -- and God help you -- some issues raised by the Times include but are not limited to a denial that Rall's interpretation of the dialogue means what he says it does, an assertion that his changing story over the years represents a liar's through-line designed to punch up and dramatize a story as opposed to a truth-teller's version complete with different reasons to limit or withhold or modify the truth at various stages, a presentation of their own analysis experts and what they say which in turn is a dig at the credibility of the mostly unnamed Rall group of experts, and a challenge to the assertion that the tape was spliced and/or altered in a direct way. There's other stuff to be sure, including general derision at things like Rall's claim of an immediate and severe case of Stockholm Syndrome to explain the apparent joviality of a final exchange with the officer.

I can't imagine most of that matters. My hunch is that in cases like this one, the Internet doesn't really help people argue towards a truth but nudges them towards a confused state that allows both sides to claim a victory, usually according to predisposed loyalties or strongly-held belief systems.

What's interesting to me about this specific mess as rhetoric is that very little has actually happened. The Times ended its relationship with a freelancer. The freelancer objected publicly and made accusations as to what happened and why. The Times responded but confirmed they were sticking by their initial action. In just three steps we're so far away from direct analysis and/or refutation it makes your teeth hurt.

I'll regain interest to see if there's a lawsuit or some sort of actual progression in the story beyond people exercising predispositions and trumpeting the certainty of what x, y and z really mean. The endorsements have been sort of interesting in that many of them have been strongly solicited without any mention of that fact. Does that matter? I think it might. I'm sure individual people are being honest in what they say, but I bet many are more conflicted than they feel they can risk appearing. The appearance of people leaping to Rall's defense might be another part of the work, which is why it gets mentioned. The AAEC statement is also intriguing because depending on how you view the world you can see that as an endorsement or as a brutally generic statement and one without specific, direct support for a former association officer. Heck, let's start over. I'm intrigued by the notion that the LA Times gave a freelancer such a thorough review before deciding not to use them. I wish that'd been in place at a couple of gigs I lost.

I wonder if we're becoming a world where if you can't win the story you try and win the Internet version of the story and if you can't win that you try to win enough of it to save face and keep going. I also wonder if we're already a world where people parse that last sentence as an indictment of diminishing returns rather than a criticism of "winning." It's both.
posted 11:55 pm PST | Permalink

Daily Blog Archives
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
Full Archives