The Los Angeles Times has yet to determine the fate of writer Chuck Phillips, the staffer responsible for the newspaper’s highly publicized Hip-Hop scandal.
A month after Phillips’ story appeared in the daily implicating Hip-Hop execs Sean “Puffy” Combs and Jimmy “Henchmen” Rosemond in the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur, he remains on the Times’ payroll.
In a recent interview with Publisher & Editor, newly appointed Los Angeles Times Editor Russ Stanton explained that Phillips, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, “remains active,” but added that “what he is going to be doing in the furture is still in the process of being defined.”
Phillips and the LA Times came under fire in late March, when evidence was revealed that the FBI documents cited as the writer’s sources for the controversial article and made available to readers online, were counterfeits.
In the article, Phillips claimed that both Puffy and the Notorious B.I.G. knew that Tupac would be attacked at Quad Recording Studios in Manhattan well in advance of the infamous occurrence.
The article went on to postulate that the crime was orchestrated by Rosemond, “Haitian” Jacques Agnant and an unknown con man named James Sabatino.
Two days after the article appeared in the LA Times on March 17, thesmokingun.com reported that not only were the FBI documents fabricated, but that they had been submitted by Sabatino as evidence in a $19 million dollar lawsuit against Combs.
Within the following two weeks, the LA Times had officially retracted the article, following apologies by both Phillips and Stanton.
Despite the severity of Phillips’ allegations, LA Times Publisher David Hiller downplayed the magnitude of the incident. “Things like that happen,” Hiller told Publisher & Editor.
“What is important to do is to step up and acknowledge that we made a mistake. We draw a lot of attention,” Hiller said. “It is like the old saying that a million planes land safely every day, if one has a problem, it gets attention.
Stanton went on to say that the LA Times does not plan on changing its policy of making background material used by writers available online.