Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Sunday, September 16, 2012

An unanswerd question

            Times Union reporter defends paper’s
            non-coverage of malpractice lawsuits

By David Baker
Posted Sunday Sept. 16, 2012

Despite repeated requests over the past eight years, Times Union editor Rex Smith has never commented on the suggestion that his paper has ignored dozens of lawsuits alleging medical malpractice and negligence filed against healthcare providers in its circulation area because those providers supply a steady stream of advertising revenue to the paper.

But while Smith has remained silent, one of his reporters has jumped in to defend his colleagues from what he calls an attack on their ethics.

The reporter is Jordan Carleo-Evangelist.  After I posted a public Twitter message on Thursday addressed to Robert Gavin, the paper’s legal reporter, Carleo-Evangelist tweeted the following:

“You should probably check out my colleague Cathleen Crowley’s award-winning series on medical errors.”

Carleo-Evangelist was referring to a series of stories run in several Hearst newspapers in August 2009 about medical errors.  Crowley, a Times Union reporter covering medical issues, wrote some of the articles.

To which I posted the following tweet:

“That was good work.  But it doesn’t offset TWELVE YEARS of silence on medical errors.”

Then I sent another public tweet, addressed to both Carleo-Evangelist and Crowley:

“Honestly, do either of u really think that none of the stories on my site are newsworthy.”

To which Carleo-Evangelist replied: 

“I honestly haven’t had time to read them.  But I promise we wouldn’t hold back to protect an advertiser. If true, I’d quit.”

I replied:  “OK, so why not find a little time – then suggest another reason why the TU has ignored them.”

And then I tweeted:

 “JCEvangelist-TU defends TU reporters Robert Gavin and Cathleen Crowley from non-existent web attack then reveals he hasn’t seen the page.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:.  “There are hundreds of civil suits, maybe thousands, in our area that don’t get written about every year.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST again:  “You’re the one making the accusations. Now you’re saying I need to prove them wrong. That’s not how it works.”

And again:

“But it’s easy for you to lob around allegations you have no proof of.  In nine years, I’ve never once been told or asked to defer to an advertiser.  It’s never come up. And if it ever did, I’d be gone shortly thereafter.”

“What I can promised is that Rob Gavin) and Cathleen (Crowley) are hard-working and honest. I’m not going to speak for them.”

DB:  “I think my page makes a compelling case for my claim.  And your editor has ignored repeated requests since 2004 for comment.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “Well then, you must be right.”

DB:  “Maybe.  But at least I don’t defend a claim without reviewing the argument for it.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “Incorrect.  I didn’t say I hadn’t seen your page. I said I hadn’t read the 1000s of words on it.  Facts matter.”

DB:  “OK:  So which of the items you read are an attack on your colleagues’ ethics?

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “You saying we hold back on stories because of advertisers is an attack on their ethics. Pretty clear cut.”

DB  “I have said TU management is ignoring these stories.  I think – and hope – that most reporters are uncomfortable with that.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “How can we be uncomfortable with something that’s not true?”

DB:  “Reporters who think I question their ethics are wrong – it’s the management of the Times Union that has sold out … For an explanation of this claim, see my letter to the publisher of the Times Union on the download page of”

The next morning I tweeted a suggestion to Carleo-Evangelist, in which I referred to a story on about a now-settled lawsuit in which Samaritan Hospital is alleged to have negligently granted staff privileges to a now-former gynecologist who performed an unnecessary and unauthorized surgery.

“How about reading this story (on the negligent-credentialing lawsuit) and then saying why you think it has never been mentioned in the TU.”

That is essentially the same question I have been asking Smith, the editor, for all these years.

So far, Carleo-Evangelist, like, Smith, hasn’t come up with a response.


Twitter: @answersforlisa