Before we start assuming that the fishwrap is starting to climb off the trOJan bandwagon, allow me to share a couple of letters from last May. I sent e-mails to both simers and pla$Chke, and here’s what I got in response. I think the responses show the true colors of the top fishwrap "journalists," and that those colors are ketchup and mustard.
"Sent: Fri 5/22/2009 7:14 PM
To: Simers, T.J.
Subject: USC basketball
Ten days ago, Yahoo Sports broke what I thought was a pretty big story: Tim Floyd was seen giving at least $1,000 to Rodney Guillory as a payoff for directing OJ Mayo to the Trojans. Floyd has said nothing in the interim. Garrett has said nothing in the interim. USC's lawyer said what lawyers always say - "We can't comment" meaning she didn't want to comment.
In the past ten days, the Times has done essentially nothing. There was a story on the story - with a question mark in the headline. Then there was a Q and A between Adam Rose (USC alum) and Craig Penrose (USC Alum). What a shock - Penrose saw absolutely nothing wrong. There is a nice children's story called "The Emperor's New Clothes" which was a lot like that interview.
Where has the rest of the Sports Department been? What have you done, personally? Have you asked for an interview with either Floyd or Garrett? If you have and they have refused an interview, why haven't you written that? That's news: "Garrett and Floyd Refuse Offers To Tell Their Side of the Story." And if you haven't asked for an interview, that's a story in and of itself: "The Times Decides To Bury Any Reference To The Latest Scandal at USC." If the Times decides that the allegations shouldn't be believed, there is a story there: "There is No Credence to the Unsupported Accusations." Of course, if that's the conclusion, then there has to be a factual basis for it, and that would be what Los Angeles sports fans (even transplanted ones) want to see.
I took a quick peek at the internet. There are 100 pages of hits (that's 100 pages of hits, not 100 hits) when I searched for "Tim Floyd USC Payment." Of those 100 pages, there were exactly two references to the Los Angeles Times. Is the Times as an institution simply not interested? Are you, as a sports journalist, just not interested? If that's so, report that - it's news. Totally ignoring everything is news, but obviously it will never be reported.
Why the silence?"
His response (sent May 23) was short and sweet:
"happen to be a little busy with lakers. all in due time"
That’s the entire response. He was apparently too busy (looking for the real killers?) even to bother capitalizing any letters.
I sent the same e-mail on the same day, May 23, 2009, to pla$Chke. He responded the following day. You can guess what it says:
"the charges were made by a felon who is trying to sell a book...he is the only source...I'm not personally involved in it, but I'm guessing that we need more than one biased source to publicly crucify a man..if it were your reputation on the firing line, you would feel the same way.."
I responded to pla$Chke the same day, May 23, 2009. I thought my response was reasonable:
"So the answers to the questions are as follows:
Generally, the source is a felon trying to write a book. Does that mean that a felon trying to write a book is incapable of being truthful about anything? Were none of the facts mentioned by Mr. Johnson, the felon and potential author, worthy of checking? Did you not think it was worth the effort to call Guillory and ask him? He is trustworthy enough to have marketed OJ Mayo to Coach Floyd in the first place (according to Coach Floyd's own words), but was he not trustworthy enough to call on this issue? Of course, a call to Coach Floyd would have been easy, and would have been a scoop since he has yet to utter a word about the accusation.
You guess that you "need more than one biased source to publicly crucify a man." Is it the policy of the Times to wait for witnesses to voluntarily provide information? The Times never seeks out sources to verify things? The Times reporting staff is just that - you report. There is no investigative journalism anywhere at the Times? Shame on you, if that is so. And shame on you if it is not so, and you are not reporting anything to further some unstated agenda.
Specifically, I asked a series of questions. You answered one, stating you were not involved, and refused to answer the balance.
Where has the rest of the Sports Department been? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question: Why won't you answer?
What have you done, personally? You're not involved. Follow up question: Why not? Isn't it a big enough potential story?
Have you asked for an interview with either Floyd or Garrett? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question: Has anyone at the Times asked for such an interview, and if not, why not?
Why hasn't the Times written any of the suggested headlines? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question: Don't you think that your readers care that the story is just out there festering?
Is the Times as an institution simply not interested? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question: Why not? Why is there no interest?
Are you, as a sports journalist, just not interested? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question: Why do you personally have no interest?
Why the silence? Answer: You refuse to answer. Follow up question. Why won't you or the Times take a position? Your refusal to take a position - even to acknowledge the story (or non-story) - is itself news., in my opinion.
To my surprise, pla$Chke responded, although not to my surprise he refused to answer any questions and - what a shock - he attacked the messenger (me.) Here’s his reply, also dated May 23, 2009:
"So you think we're NOT pursuing the story?..You think we HAVEN'T been calling eople?...You assume that because we don't write a story, we're not checking out all leads?..We chase things hard, and it's a sign of the potential weakness in this story that, for all our chasing, we have yet to find someone to corroborate....
Where have I been on this? I'm the Times' lead general sports columnist, meaning I cover the biggest story. If you read our newspaper or website, you would know that the Lakers are my town's biggest story. If I'm not covering them through the playoffs, then THAT'S a story....
I'm sorry you are so bitter about this, and cannot afford me the same respect that I have afforded you, but, hey, I understand, that's how the world works these days
(All of the ellipses are those of the two fishwrap journalists. As an aside, it seems to me that the use of an ellipsis when it’s not necessary demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the basic rules of punctuation.)
I don’t have to point out that neither of those guys has published an interview with Garrett or Floyd on the basketball issue. Both of them are apparently sticking to the "Oh, he’s a felon trying to write a book" story line. Which itself begs the question - what was Timmeh doing with a felon who was trying to write a book? Aren’t there any non-felons he could drive him around Beverly Hills? But there remains the over-arching enigma - Why has no one from the fishwrap asked Floyd the simple question: "Timmeh, did you hand over an envelope with money in it to Guillory?" No one has put that question to him directly. Are we to assume that these two brilliant reporters can’t figure out how to finagle a one-on-one with Timmeh? Or that the question hasn’t occurred to either of them?
The biggest insult, in my opinion, is that these two guys and the urinal they work for actually believe we’re stupid enough to fall for their party line.
Bruins, I beg you. Do NOT let the nice stories the ‘wrap is writing about Coach Neuheisel and recruiting dull the collective memory of just how bad the ‘wrap and its so-called reporters really are. They always have been and always will be mouthpieces for Inheritance Hall. They will never report that the emperor has no clothes. Don’t be deceived.