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July 29, 2015

Ted Rall Blasts Former Freelance Client LA Times

I think you can start with Ted Rall's vigorous defense against the charges made that led to his firing, here. You might have to move between some links, go back and forth and pick up some old threads, and you have to account for the primary voice, but the gist of it is there. The other important pair of documents is this combo piece featuring Rall's in-question opinion piece and the editor's note up top that Rall freelance relationship with the publication has ended.

I don't think I would have fired Ted Rall based on the LAPD's complaints, but I sure would have subjected future opinion pieces to greater scrutiny. If you hire someone to do freelance you should probably be starting from a position of confidence and trust in that person. Let's face it, though: this is not good. No, the recording doesn't 100 percent prove everything in the way that we're taught on legal dramas they have to be proved -- and you can cast aspersions at the act of recording, the keeping of the recording, and the gaps and so on -- but none of it supports Rall's side of the story. It doesn't seem like there's a shouting crowd (or they got quiet when people spoke), it doesn't seem like the cop is rude and abusive (he might have smirked), there's no appearance of another cop that saved Rall from citation (it doesn't even seem like he was saved from a citation).

Also, it makes perfect sense to me that if someone filed a complaint a recording would be kept and stuffed in a file somewhere, far more than I find it believable that Ted Rall suffered a version of Stockholm Syndrome based on a five minute incident in which he was certain of his innocence. Also, people at the beginning of a year misdate things; if they're making stuff up to protect their asses they tend not to misdate things. And so on.

There's also it seems an omission or two in Rall's full blog response, such as no mention he was allowed to speak to a reporter that investigated the claims, just not the deliberating committee at the Times. I thought it strange he was left out of the loop entirely, but he wasn't. He could have been. I know that at papers where I worked, a staffer might be treated to a full sitting committee like this but a decision to work with a freelancer or not (Rall talks about his "position," but I think he was just a freelancer) would be left to the editor that assigns work. This seems like treatment ahead of the curve.

I once lost a freelance gig that was super important to me at the time because my assigning editor distrusted me on a couple of deadline issues. I think he did so super-unfairly but after my initial "screw you" impulse I realized I didn't want to work for him, either. It happens. I hope Rall continues to find work with editors that support and believe in him, and that he in turn supports and believes in them. Clearly that's no longer the case with Rall and the Times.
posted 12:15 am PST | Permalink

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