Rainey vs Stewart vs Cooper vs Lacey

The slugfest continues. As we mentioned yesterday, VVM Executive Editor Mike Lacey responded via a blog post to the recent LA Times story critical of the LA Weekly and its news editor Jill Stewart. Lacey ranted against the author of the story, James Rainey, and his only named source, Marc Cooper. Lacey called Cooper “a bitter, disgruntled former employee,” and yesterday evening Cooper responded with a note in the blog comments, which can be read below.

But before we type another word about the matter, we should admit that your FBLA editors are biased. We have worked for the LA Weekly, we like the LA Weekly. We know Cooper and Stewart, and would like to note that both are kind to small animals and secretaries. Wouldn’t trust Mike Lacey with a gerbil. Full disclosure.

On with the show-

From Marc Cooper:

Aha! The omnipotent Editor-in-Chief of the Village Voice Media speaks! I see this was posted around 5 p.m. which is no wonder given that later in the day he might encounter, um, some motor-impaired difficulties in typing. And as usual, we hear from Lacey almost exclusively when he is moved to publish an attack on a former employee. Classy guy that he is.

I am not going to lower myself to responding point by point to someone whose only journalistic distinction is having gutted a half-dozen or so of the best metro weeklies in America.

I am compelled, however, to correct the record.

Consistent with the current standards of his papers, Lacey’s screed is error-ridden. So let’s straighten out the record.

Back in 1996, over a dinner at which Lacey was drunker than a skunk, he did in fact hire me to write for New Times Los Angeles. This followed one previous lunch meeting a year before when Lacey was also deep into the tank.

He’s absolutely correct that in 1998 I strenuously objected to slanderous trash that the paper was publishing under Stewart’s byline. The paper was on a campaign to discredit Mike Davis — for purely political reasons– and I thought it rather sordid.

One editor privately agreed with me but said he was powerless as Lacey and the other top editor loved Stewart. At that point, purely voluntarily, I resigned. Sorry, Mike, you didn’t fire me back then. I fired you. And if I am, indeed, as you claim such a mediocre and politically tainted writer, it fails to explain why you allowed me to write a weekly political column for the Weekly for the first three years of your tenure as Big Boss.

In the case of the Weekly, the entire staff was demoralized and depressed by the paper’s acquisition by Lacey and by his hiring of Stewart — someone who had spent years denigrating the paper she was now brought into help run.

Over the course of the ensuing three years. on at least three different occasions, I asked editor Laurie Ochoa (fired last month), to put me out of my misery and release me from the staff. She kept me on, in part because she liked my work. And in part because she didn’t want to relinquish the budget line to Lacey.

When he ordered my layoff last November, it came purely as a liberation. I had been inside the Weekly offices exactly three times over the previous two years and it was becoming increasingly insulting to be associated with such a degraded and trashy paper. I hid this view from exactly nobody.

Bitter? Hardly. Delighted is more like it, old chum.

I think that’s enough. Lacey requires no further punishing words from me. His punishment s living out the rest of his life as Mike Lacey. Grim.

Comment by Marc Cooper from Los Angeles on Jun 24th, 2009, 19:27 pm

Previously on FBLA:
James Rainey vs Jill Stewart
James Rainey vs Jill Stewart Continues