Judge Alex Kozinski has been unanimously cleared of misconduct by a special committee of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The background is here. Briefly, Kozinski was accused of making sexually explicit material available on a public web site. In truth, Kozinski had an improperly secured private file server on which some member of his family had stored some distasteful (but not illegal) files among many other innocuous ones.
In its opinion, the committee not only cleared Kozinski of misconduct, but criticized the press for misrepresenting the case:
In June 2008, a public controversy followed the publication of a Los Angeles Times article that alleged the Judge had maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photographs and videos. The Judge requested this investigation into his personal conduct.
Some media reports in June 2008 suggested that the Judge maintained, and intended to maintain, a public website, as that term is commonly understood — a presentation of offensive sexually explicit material open for public browsing. This investigation has established, however, that such a characterization is incorrect.
The LA Times was principally responsible for the story, and even now refuses to correct the record. In its story on the court’s report, it bizarrely fails to mention that Kozinski was cleared, instead preferring to focus on the fact that court admonished Kozinski for failing to quickly fix the problem once he became aware of it.
Beyond that, the LA Times not only failed to report that it had been rebuked by the court, but actually repeated the misrepresentation that drew the rebuke:
Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, was admonished by a panel of his colleagues, in a report made public today, for posting sexually explicit material on a publicly accessible Internet server.
First of all, this statement is literally untrue, in that Kozinski was not admonished for saving the material, but for failing to promptly rectify the situation when he became aware of it.
More importantly, it implies that the material was placed there for public consumption. It does so in two ways: through the choice of the inaccurate word “posting,” and through its description of the server as “publicly accessible” rather than as “improperly secured.”
This is some of the most flagrant media dishonesty you’ll ever see without forged national guard documents. Bury the lede, bury the rebuke of your reporting, and repeat the smear that drew the rebuke. That’s the LA Times.