Annals of Journalism, Pt. 5: San Francisco Chronicle Was Worried That a Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up Opinion Piece Might Crowd Out Its Important Unique Coverage

Published April 29th, 2019, Uncategorized

 

PREVIOUSLY:

 

Annals of Journalism, Pt. 1: Opinion Piece For Berkeley’s Daily Californian on UC’s Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up, Scheduled For Publication Today, Was Killed at the Last Second … For Expressing an Opinion Published April 23rd, 2019

 

“Annals of Journalism, Pt. 2: My 2017 Opinion Piece For Berkeley’s Daily Californian on UC’s Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up — Before They Started Censoring Me,” April 24, 2019, https://concussioninc.net/?p=13797

“Annals of Journalism, Pt. 3: My 2018 Opinion Piece For Berkeley’s Daily Californian on UC’s Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up — Before They Started Censoring Me,” April 24, 2019, https://concussioninc.net/?p=13797

“Annals of Journalism, Pt. 4: My New Opinion Piece for Berkeley’s Daily Californian on UC’s Ted Agu Football Death Cover-Up … CENSORED,”  https://concussioninc.net/?p=13802.

Complete headline links to our series on the Ted Agu death cover-up (beginning November 2013 — before Agu’s death): https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877

 

by Irvin Muchnick

 

Weeks prior to the Daily Californian’s pretending that it wanted to publish my opinion piece on new evidence of the University of California’s cover-up of the 2014 Ted Agu football conditioning death — before ultimately censoring it because of the fear of a lawsuit over (shudder) opining that the institution and its football program had a suspect value system — the San Francisco Chronicle didn’t even let the article out of the end zone. Here’s that story.

On March 27, the Chronicle’s deputy opinion editor, Lois Kazakoff, emailed me, “I’m sorry, I can’t use this.”

I asked Kazakoff why. She didn’t respond. Neither did John Diaz, the editorial page editor.

On April 1, I kicked this unanswered question up to Audrey Cooper, the Chron editor-in-chief. Cooper wrote back that the opinion department didn’t report to her, but even so, she “asked them to respond to you.”

Later that day, Kazakoff did write to me more fully. The monumental stupidity of her message deserves full-text reproduction (colon-within-colon usage included):

 

“I sent you a note last week saying that we couldn’t use the piece.  You want to know why: The commentary section is set up to publish community concerns about the current issues in the news: the Boeing 737 Max accidents and worries of FAA failure to oversee certification; the Giants’ need to suspend Larry Baer for domestic violence concerns; the impact of the Dynamex ruling on the gig economy.  We look for pieces that offer a strong role for the reader. The Chronicle did significant reporting on the Ted Agu story. Today, we’re focused on new and different stories and the commentary they engender.”

 

So, to review:

 

1. The UC Berkeley Golden Bears football team physician, Dr. Casey Batten — now with the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League — withheld from the Alameda County medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Beaver, the university’s knowledge that Ted Agu was a sickle cell trait carrier, and pushed the coroner to rule that Agu had died of run-of-the-mill heart failure. A year later, Beaver testified that he didn’t know about sickle cell trait and had the sheriff’s office revise the autopsy to reflect that Agu’s death was, in fact, a sickling episode. Asked about this whole sequence at his own deposition, Batten testified:

 

“Umm, I don’t recall that I had a conversation where we — I think we did say something along the lines of it appeared to be, but it was — I think it was — it might have been after — I really don’t recall when I spoke with him.”

 

(The California penal code includes provisions for lying to police officials. More on this shortly at Concussion Inc.)

 

2. The San Francisco Chronicle never covered any of this as news. Nor will it publish it as opinion. It seems that they only do the really important stuff, such as “the Giants’ need to suspend Larry Baer for domestic violence concerns” after the team’s president was caught on TMZ having a fight with his wife.

 

3. The Daily Californian won’t touch the subject either, if the author of the opinion piece insists on a conclusion as extreme as: “At the world’s greatest public university, the commercial priorities of the football program obliterate education, morality, and other core missions.”

Oh, no. Can’t have that.