California Editor David Lauter rebutted former reporter Anita Busch's comments yesterday in court tying the L.A. Times to convicted private eye Anthony Pellicano. Lauter, who emailed the response to Patterico, says the paper took the 2002 threats against Busch (by Pellicano and friends, it turned out) seriously, and explains the paper didn't include her latest comments in today's story for a reason.
As the Times has stated before, we take very seriously any threat made to our employees in the course of doing their jobs, and that certainly included the threats to Ms. Busch. The Times cooperated with law enforcement investigations in her case and provided monetary and personal support — and protection — to Ms. Busch.
The paper has also made clear previously that neither the paper nor its lawyers have ever hired Anthony Pellicano. Ms. Busch’s repeated suggestions that our lawyer said Pellicano had done work for The Times is untrue. It’s a matter of public record that Pellicano has been an occasional source for journalists at the paper over the years, both on the record and off. Journalists have many kinds of sources when reporting their stories.
Ms. Busch went through a terrible experience as a result of Pellicano’s illegal activities, and her former Times colleagues sympathize deeply with what she’s suffered. We didn’t include her statements about The Times in this morning’s story because they were neither true nor new.
All of us at The Times hope that the conclusion of the trial will bring Ms. Busch peace of mind.
Busch responds in the Patterico post that she's telling the truth and wants an independent investigation of her former employer's interactions with Pellicano. Some of it is intriguing to me, but I find the least intriguing part is the aspect that Busch and Patterico claim is so questionable: that newsroom lawyer Karlene Goller said at a meeting that the Times should ask Pellicano if he knew anything about the threats against their reporter. Sounds good to me: he was shady, but well connected and not then a felon. Some Times people knew him as a source on stories. Maybe he'd tell them something useful, maybe he wouldn't — maybe he'd mislead them, or give them good stuff — like any source. You take your chances, not knowing of course that he was in on the attack.