Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Rall?

August 5, 2015

9781609806354For Ted Rall – editorial cartoonist, unembedded war reporter, and longtime Seven Stories author — it’s been a rough week.

Last May, Ted wrote a short editorial on the LAPD’s treatment of jaywalkers for the LA Times, a newspaper that had often published his cartoons and columns.  Rall began his piece by describing a time he had been stopped by the LAPD for jaywalking in 2001:

“All of a sudden, a motorcycle officer zoomed over, threw me up against the wall, slapped on the cuffs, roughed me up and wrote me a ticket. It was an ugly scene, and in broad daylight it must have looked like one, because within minutes there were a couple of dozen passersby shouting at the cop.

“Another motorcycle officer appeared, asked the colleague what the heck he was thinking and ordered him to let me go, which he did. But not before he threw my driver’s license into the sewer.”

Shockingly, more than ten weeks later, the Times announced it was unceremoniously firing Rall, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated former president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, over the article.  Alleging that “evidence provided by the LAPD raise[s] serious questions about the accuracy of Rall’s blog post,” the Times noted — as though declaring their intention of making a public example of Rall — that the event was meant as “a reminder of the need to remain vigilant about what we publish.”


Self-portrait, Ted Rall

Ted Rall’s not the type to take such news lying down — he has already fired back repeatedly, penning a public letter to Times editor Nick Goldberg, releasing a professionally cleaned-up version of the all but inaudible tape recording of the encounter the Times cited as “evidence,” and taking to the airwaves and the media of the art world to share his story.  Prominent colleagues, like investigative journalist Greg Palast, have risen to Rall’s defense.  The New York Observer has weighed in in his favor.

The news comes mere days before the unveiling of one of the biggest projects of Rall’s career, his full-length, full-color graphic biography Snowden, offering both a clear look at the life, mind, and possible motivations of the whistle-blower and a chance to consider the meaning of his disclosures against the backdrop of America’s War on Terror-era security culture.  Noam Chomsky calls it “a dramatic, evocative, thoughtful and very accessible account of one of the most important stories of the century – and one of the most ominous, unless citizens are aroused to action to rein in abusive state power.”  You can support Ted by pre-ordering your copy here.

In the meantime, why not drop the LA Times a message and let them know how you feel about their “journalistic standards, practices and coverage”?

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