LAT: Trust Us More Than Source We Quoted

May 11th, 2007 10:07 AM

Is the Los Angeles Times being stubborn its refusal to correct a major mistake in its reporting in the fired U.S. attorney "scandal," or does the paper have more partisan motivations?

In March, the Times filed a story claiming that Bud Cummins, a former U.S. attorney, thought his firing was related to an investigation he launched in Missouri into allegedly improperly awarded contracts to run that state's DMV. Trouble is, Cummins did not believe this at all. Not only that, contrary to fact, the Times asserted that Cummins's investigation was probing to see the involvement of Missouri governor Matt Blunt.

After the Times's story came out, Cummins fired off an email, saying he "did not know of ANY connection between the Missouri investigation (which actually had nothing to do with Governor Blunt) and my termination."

Since that time, Cummins emailed blogger Patrick Frey to say that he believed he had made all of this clear to the Times:

[T]here is no doubt in my mind that I made it clear to Mr. Serrano that I knew of no connection between the Missouri investigation and my dismissal. I am certain that I told him that more than once.

. . . . I can assure you there are dozens of reporters around the country who have heard me tell my version of this the exact same way. Mr. Serrano is the only one who heard it differently.

. . . . I promise you the story was wrong.

Yet the Times has refused to make the correction, giving the false impression of Republican "corruption" when in fact the person supposedly making the allegation explicitly denies it. Frey forwarded Cummins's message to the Times's reader rep and received this in response:

I appreciate your sharing with this office your correspondence with Bud Cummins. As you note, the Times reporter also talked to Cummins after the article appeared, and we don’t see the need for a correction.

Jamie Gold
Readers’ Representative

Do Gold and the Times really expect anyone to believe them? Gold provided no interview notes, quotations or anything else from the Times reporter who spoke with Cummins. Just a blanket assertion that "we do not see the need for a correction."

In other words, trust us. We know what Bud Cummins thinks better than Bud Cummins does.