A reporter accused the chiefs of the Los Angeles Times of burying a scandal. They say he is lying.


In reporter Paul Pringle’s vivid account, his monumental presentation of the campus scandal is thwarted at every turn by law enforcement and university officials. But the biggest obstacle, he asserts, were the editors-in-chief of his own newspaper, the Los Angeles Times.

Pringle’s new book,”Bad City: Danger and Power in the City of AngelsAnd theHe tells his quest for a story about Carmen Poliavito, former dean of the University of Southern California School of Medicine. The reputed eye surgeon had a secret life as a drug addict linked to addicts and criminals.

The book, which alleges senior editors of the Times tried to slow and suppress the story’s narrative for months to protect the university, was greeted with enthusiastic written writing. One New York Times reviewer praised it as “Master’s Degree in Investigative Journalism. ” else – In the Los Angeles Times, no less Compare Pringle’s book with famous tales of journalistic heroism such as “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight”.

Previous Pringle editors have their own review: It’s a bunch of lies.

“The whole assumption is wrong,” said Marc Duvoisin, who oversaw Pringle’s original story in 2017 as the managing editor of The Times, in an interview.

Davan Maharaj, the former editor and publisher of The Washington Post, said the book is “largely a work of fiction. … a lot of that happens in his imagination.” A third editor who worked on the story, Matthew Doig, Publish 3,500 word of disapproval of the book onlinecomplete with scans of handwritten editorial notes, to counter “half-truths and ill-intentioned misrepresentations.”

The editors said their caution led to him avoiding what would have been a disastrous libel suit against The Times, rather than bringing Pringle to his knees. They say the length of the story eventually led to the reporting of hacks that enriched and expanded Pringle’s initial drafts of the story.

Pringle’s publisher — Celadon Books, a division of Macmillan Publishers — says it stands by its account.

The Times published Pringle story in July 2017, About nine months after he delivered his first draft. The article alleged that Poliavito, a practicing physician and major fundraiser at the University of Southern California, smoked methamphetamine, linked to prostitutes and committed other crimes during his tenure at medical school, before abruptly stepping down in 2016.

The story was hailed as a journalistic coup, garnering accolades and paving the way for the downfall of Poliavito – as well as the eventual resignation of USC president, CL Max Nichias, who said at the time he regretted his accomplishments. “It has been overshadowed by recent events.”

A state medical board revoked Polyavito’s medical license in 2018 for taking illegal drugs. His attorney, Peter Usinoff, told The Post that Poliavito was never charged with drug-related offenses, that his behavior at USC was the result of an undiagnosed mental condition, and that he had been vigil for several years.

The article also rocked advice that led to another major story: the revelation of a University of Southern California gynecologist who had allegedly been sexually abusing his patients for more than two decades. Pringle and two other reporters won a Pulitzer Prize In 2019 for their investigations into George Tindall and the university’s cover-up of his behavior. These stories prompted the USC to pay $1.1 billion to settle victims’ claims. As of May, Tyndall has He pleaded not guilty to 35 felony counts.

But behind the scenes, Pringle wrote in “Bad City,” senior editors tried to prevent the publication of his reports on Puliafito. Maharaj, then editor and publisher of The Times, allegedly tried to kill the story to protect a friendship with Nikias and to preserve the newspaper’s financial relationship with the university, though he admitted at a critical point that Maharaj told him he “wasn’t closing the door” to further reporting.

There is no doubt that publishing Puliafito’s story was hard work. It took 15 months from the time Pringle got his first advice about a doctor before The Times broke the news about him. Pringle submitted his first draft in late October of 2016; The project underwent further reporting, new drafts, editing and rewriting, and numerous legal reviews over the next nine months.

Pringle presents this as evidence of bad faith by Maharaj, Duvoisine, and other editors. He says it took a “secret” team of four reporters – working in defiance of senior editors and at risk of their jobs – to keep working on the story and save it from oblivion.

It’s a thrilling novel – Devoisin, Maharaj, and Doig differ from it.

Duvoisin said in an interview that the “secret” team of reporters was largely no secret. “Everyone knows,” he said, because Pringle’s immediate supervisor had told senior editors about it. (The supervisor, editor Shelby Grad, said in an interview that he kept the team’s work a secret for “a week or two” while reporters were gathering new information, before telling Duvoisin.)

Unlike Pringle, they say the long march to publication was the result of a need for more facts, more details, and more corroboration of the claims. “This was a battle over journalistic standards,” Duvoisin told the newspaper. “I wasn’t ready to commit my time.”

Former Times editors shared two story drafts with The Post to advance their cause, which grows stronger with each editorial round. A draft from February 2017, for example, does not mention a key character in the story – Poliavito’s “girlfriend” who allegedly overdosed in his hotel room with him. After that, Pringle tracked her down and interviewed her. The reporting team later also added descriptions of videos and photos in which she and the dean were seen using drugs.

These important details were included in a copy of the article written in early April. “The new reports are massive,” Duvoisin wrote to Grad on April 6. But to Pringle’s dismay, Davoisine and Doig requested more reporting, including about two characters who later added eyewitness confirmation.

As for the lengthy condensation of the story, Maharaj said Pringle’s editors “were just trying to convince him to provide the evidence needed for a sensitive story.” Duvoisin said the Times’s legal counsel advised him that publishing earlier versions of the story could expose the newspaper to a costly defamation case.

But perhaps the most controversial claim in the book is Pringle’s overarching thesis: that Maharaj and his inner circle were opposed to the USC story because of Maharaj’s relationship with Nikias, the university’s president, and because the university was an important and publicized civic player for the Times.

Sometime in early 2017, Pringle described his startling reaction when Grad told him over the phone that Duvoisine had objected to Pringle’s idea of ​​going to Nikias’ house and asking for comment, an essential way of reporting. “I smell corruption in the newsroom!” Pringle broke out. “Corruption in the newsroom!”

He writes that the Times was financially involved with the University of Southern California through the university’s sponsorship of the newspaper’s annual book festival. He also asserts that Maharaj was a candidate for a “high-ranking position” at the school during his tenure as editor of The Times.

Not so, Maharaj says. “I have never pursued a job at USC. I was never offered a job at USC, and I was not interested in a job at USC,” he added, adding that his relationship with Nikias was little more than friendly and professional. As for the book festival, Maharaj said he was “a loser of money or, at best, struggling to break even. Does Pringle have evidence to the contrary?”

Meanwhile, Pringle’s own work for The Times may conflict with the writers’ claim that “Maharaj and his associates had surrendered” to USC at the time he was writing the story. Before pursuing Poliavito, his investigative projects for the newspaper included a number of highly influential articles about the university. Report Sweetheart rental deal Between the school’s sports department and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2012 and beyond questionable practices by the school’s athletic director in 2015 – all during Maharaj’s tenure as editor.

“I didn’t say I was barred from covering USC,” Pringle told the newspaper. But the stories about the university were “made to much different standards” than other subjects, and have been subject to delays and extensive revision. “I have written many stories that have not been subjected to this kind of torture,” he said.

Sure enough, there were buckets of bad blood in the Thames during the period described in the “Bad City”. Under the ownership of Tribune Publishing of Chicago, which later changed its name to Tronc Inc. , The Times has been subject to years of management turmoil and staff cuts, leaving its newsroom bruised and suspicious. Maharaj was an unpopular liberator who was the target of much internal hatred. in damn story Published in Los Angeles Magazine in 2016, she criticized his “weak and sometimes lively editorial leadership”.

Pringle, who admits to being an anonymous source for that story, cites it as evidence of Maharaj’s dissatisfaction with the USC story. But it also reads another way: that Maharaj may have been more cautious about all the big investigative projects and would not have approached the USC story differently.

However, Pringle wrote that he took extraordinary action against his newspaper as his frustration mounted. He discussed removing his byline from the story before it was published as a protest, and said that He was so distrustful of his editors that he asked for his lawyer. When the story faced its final delays, he wrote an anonymous letter on paper from The Times to billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong urging him to buy the newspaper and replace its management. (Soon, Shiong did it in 2018although there is no indication that the message affected him).

Pringle then filed an ethical complaint against Maharaj and Duvoisine with the company’s human resources department, asserting that the editor’s alleged communications from USC were a conflict of interest. He and others in The Times said the complaint, in June 2017, sparked an internal investigation and a scramble among newsroom staff to voice their complaints about editors.

A month after the Times published the Poliavito story, Tronc fired Maharaj, Duvoisin, Doig and others in what the newspaper vaguely described as “confuses. Pringle, who still works for The Times, said in an interview that their exclusion was “proof” of his complaint.

But it can also be read as a rejection of it: the HR investigation specifically exonerated the editors of any inconsistency in their handling of the USC-Puliafito story. (Maharaj is now a freelance writer and editor in Southern California, Davoisine is editor of the San Antonio Express-News, and Doig is investigative editor at USA Today.)

There was also something else. In the month between the publication of the Poliavito investigation and the firing of the editors, the Times led by Maharaj published 15 news stories to follow up on its initial story, including several assessments of the University of Southern California’s role in the scandal. Ten of these stories were published on the front page.

If Maharaj and Davoisine had defended the League, their hesitation clearly disappeared.

This story has been updated to clarify Grad’s statement about the “secret” team of reporters.