Los Angeles Times Managing Editor Doug Frantz is facing accusations of discrimination for refusing to run a report about the Armenian genocide written by Mark Arax, a seasoned LAT writer of Armenian origin. Frantz claims Arax was biased in his take on the issue, but Armenian community leader Harut Sassounian says there’s a much bigger story behind Frantz’s move.
From Sassounian’s account on L.A. Observed:
On April 11, 2007, in an e-mail to Arax, Frantz accused him of having “a conflict of interest that precludes you from writing about the Armenian genocide, and particularly about an ongoing congressional debate about it. ...Your personal stance on the issue, in my view, prohibits you from writing about the issue objectively.”
To justify his discriminatory action, Frantz used the pretext that Arax and five other reporters at The Times had signed a joint letter in September 2005, reminding the editors that the newspaper was not complying with its own policy of calling the Armenian Genocide, a genocide. The editors, at that time, had no problem with that letter. On the contrary, they thanked all six reporters—five Armenian-Americans and one Jewish-American—for the reminder and pledged to comply with the paper’s policy on this issue.
To make matters worse, in his e-mail, Frantz falsely referred to the above-cited letter as a “petition,” and on that basis accused Arax of taking “a position” on the Armenian Genocide. He thus implied that all six letter-writers—Mark Arax, Ralph Vartabedian, Robin Abcarian, Greg Krikorian, Chuck Philips, and Henry Weinstein—were political activists rather than independent journalists.