Jason Leopold had a checkered journalism career. He was president of the L.A. chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, but he also got fired from an L.A. Times community paper for threatening a reporter, hid a felony conviction from his employer, and had multiple stories retracted. In a new book, says the Village Voice's Jarrett Murphy, Leopold describes "a tumultuous life that includes years of drug addiction." From the Voice:
This is stuff that I've really hidden my whole life," Leopold tells the Voice, adding that the book "really allowed me to purge all those feelings. I want to make sure I come across as totally, 100 percent honest."
He's uncomfortably honest at times. The book opens with Steven Maviglio, a spokesman for then California governor Gray Davis, telling Leopold that he had purchased stock in two energy companies that were negotiating contracts with the state. The comment is "off the record," meaning the information is supposed to never show up in print, but Leopold wants to report it anyway. He leaks it to two of his contacts and tells them to pass the tip on to two newspapers. When those papers start working the tip, the story is on the radar screen, and Leopold is free to write about his own leak.
As journalistic crimes go, that one's a felony. Leopold says he broke the rules because his enthusiasm for news was like an addict's thirst for the next hit.
The March 1 release date for his book, Off the Record, may be delayed by legal issues, including a demand from lawyers for former Gray Davis aide Steve Maviglio that certain errant facts be purged. In another recent interview, Leopold says he has endured bipolar disorder all his life and had an abusive father.