“The story is a lie,” Sean “Diddy” Combs fumed when he heard about last week’s new investigative report on Tupac Shakur’s 1994 shooting. “I am shocked that the Los Angeles Times wouldbe so irresponsible as to publish such a baseless and completely untruestory.” Well, of course he was shocked. The L.A. Times had just accused his buddies of carrying out the (initial non-fatal) shooting, and claimed FBI reports proved that Diddy and the Notorious B.I.G. knew of the attack in advance — pretty serious allegations to wake up to one morning 14 years after the fact! Still, the Times wouldn’t have run such an explosive story if they didn’t have rock-solid evidence, right? Right?
Except, apparently, they did just that. Yesterday, The Smoking Gun posted an eviscerating takedown saying that the Times had been duped by a notorious forger who’d fabricated those FBI reports out of whole cloth. And the paper has now posted an apology that more or less concedes the point: “In relying on documents that I now believe were fake, I failed to domy job,” acknowledges Pulitzer-winning journalist Chuck Philips. Ouch.
As a reporter, this whole unfortunate incident obviously gives me pause. (Note to self:Kill that breaking-news post I wrote for tomorrow about the Xeroxed CIA files proving Elvis is still alive.) Yet I can’t help wondering what else this reveals about our culture. The L.A. Times is a respected institution, not some random gossip rag. Would this story have passed their editorial muster if it was about someone other than Tupac Shakur? Are we too quick to believe sensationalized tales of violence and conspiracy when they involve rappers? Then again, isn’t that partially because Biggie and ‘Pac spent their entire careers spinning exaggerated myths of their own criminal prowess? You tell me…
addCredit(“Tupac Shakur: Ron Galella/WireImage.com; Diddy: Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com”)