A Report from the LA Times Protest - Update: Times Says ‘Releasing the Video Might Put the Source in Jeopardy’

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LGF reader ‘cblesz’ went to the protest at the LA Times building this morning, and reports that there were about 150 people there — and that LA Times staffers were watching from the windows, smirking and laughing at the protesters.

UPDATE at 10/30/08 12:03:21 pm:

The Times has settled on their excuse now; another reader forwarded the email he received from Gary Weitman, spokesman for the Times’ parent company Tribune:

Mr. Smith,

I’m sorry you feel this way. I understand this may be frustrating to you.

Allow me to explain further. Protecting confidential sources and standing by agreements made in order to get information is a cornerstone of good fundamental journalism, and a free press. If we break an agreement with a source, we risk other sources not coming forward with information vital to the public. In this case, the tape was written about extensively and only came to light because the LA Times made a promise not to publish it or reveal its source. That promise means not publishing the tape even to a high level conservative, however turstworthy that person may be.

Despite the public pressure, it is important that the LA Times honor its agreement.

Thanks,

Gary Weitman

“Now go away and stop bothering us, peon,” he didn’t add. But he might as well have.

I’m not going to mince words: I don’t believe the LA Times is telling the truth when they say they had an agreement with their source not to reveal the tape.

UPDATE at 10/30/08 12:38:36 pm:

And yet another version of the excuse, also from Weitman (courtesy of LGF reader ‘jbolty’):

I completely agree about the role of the press being a watchdog on government abuse. The LA Times, as you know, brought this story to light in the first place and described what was going on on the tape. The reporter on the story has written extensively about Barack Obama’s relationship to the Khalidi family. The reporter agreed with his source not to release the tape in return for getting acess to it.

The Times has made it clear (last night online and in today’s newspaper) that it will honor that agreement. That is what you’d want, I would think: protection of a source in return for getting the underlying information. To break that agreement might put the source of the tape in jeopardy. Honoring the agreement allows the newspaper to continue to get information from other sources and assures those sources of information that they can come forward confidentially.

Releasing the video would “put the source in jeopardy?” Is this an admission that there’s something damaging on the tape?

UPDATE at 10/30/08 12:56:45 pm:

Pictures and video from the protest at Mere Rhetoric.

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