At the end of his Washington Post media column today, Howard Kurtz seems put out that L.A. Times editors haven't given interviews about the big Tupac Shakur-Sean Combs screw-up. He casts it in the same light as the biggest print journalism gaffes of recent years.
Nearly three weeks after apologizing for having published a story based on fake FBI documents, editors at the Los Angeles Times are remaining silent.
After other media debacles -- Jayson Blair at the New York Times, Jack Kelley at USA Today, Stephen Glass at the New Republic, Janet Cooke at The Washington Post -- those responsible have eventually fielded questions about what went wrong. But even after last week's formal retraction of a story that accused associates of Sean "Diddy" Combs of involvement in the 1994 shooting of rapper Tupac Shakur, Editor Russ Stanton and his deputies have declined to grant a single interview with outside news organizations.
To their credit, Stanton, Deputy Managing Editor Marc Duvoisin and reporter Chuck Philips quickly apologized after the Smoking Gun Web site revealed the hoax. But the Times' own coverage has not addressed Stanton's degree of involvement or whether anyone has been disciplined. Would the paper accept such conduct from a government agency?
Pressed for comment, a Times spokeswoman released another statement in which Stanton said the paper "has taken this matter very seriously" and that the retraction and apology "speak for themselves."