Ramos and Casasús: woof

Please ignore this if you believe that it doesn’t matter if a reputable newspaper publishes contributions by a journalist apparently prone to plagiarism, invention, and illiteracy. Otherwise it’s curtains up on the latest episode in the saga of the scribbler (Rafael Ramos), the ombudsman (Josep Maria Casasús), and their publisher (La Vanguardia). (You will find the complete collection is included in the ethics section; I’ll post a timeline soon.)

Josep Maria Casasús replied to my previous mail on September 5th telling me that he would be away on holiday until the 15th. Here is a summary of his points and my responses, as sent to him by email this evening (2003/9/14):

JMC: I’ve got evidence but need you to help me to firm up the case. I have been through all Ramos’ work in our archives (which is why it has taken 15 weeks) and I have found no evidence of the other grave charges [he doesn’t say which charges he’s referring to here] that you are asking me to make on your behalf.

Kale: Once more, I need you to tell me exactly what further evidence you require – apart from the documentation that I sent you four months ago – to demonstrate plagiarism, the invention of data, and the publication of an article in the language of a drunk. Have you, for example, found evidence that Ramos was in Peshawar in October 2001? Do you possess a map that demonstrates that Aldershot is near Highgate? Have you found an expert who believes that the sentence

“But then he is a ?friend’ of the ?evil’ in person (George W. Bush), and also of the ?very much right’ spanish primer minister Jose Maria Aznar, and the ?very much right’ australian prime minister John Howard, and ignores international legality to please his ?neocon’ hawkishs friends in Washington, and justifies the so called ?war’ even if the weapons of mass destruction have become a mirage un the iraqui desert (Spain is a pacifist country, you know, despite what the government does and says, ninety per cent of the population was very much against ?Operation Iraq Liberty (OIL), and one of the main squares in Barcelona is still ocuupied by protesters).”

is worthy of a professional journalist?

JMC: Why don’t you come and talk to me? We can only act in mutual confidence and using arguments that could be established more effectively during a personal interview.

Kale: Because you haven’t proposed an agenda. What exactly are we going to discuss? [Tell me, dear reader, if you think I’m being paranoid, but I can’t see why he needs a chat with me if he’s being honest about his intentions; his treatment of John Chappell’s exposure of plagiarism by Màrius Serra leads me to suspect that he is not.]

JMC: Can you get me more on the famous interview with Brian Epstein?

Kale: This comes via John Chappell and dates, I believe, from before La Vanguardia’s digital era. Unfortunately John has not conserved each and every edition of the paper since his arrival in Spain. I hope that you, with the resources at your disposal, will have more luck in finding this. [The Epstein case was not part of my documentation, although I did refer to it briefly in my original mail to JMC, which included the link to the documentation.]

JMC: What do you understand by plagiarism? The criteria applied by ombudsmen were laid out by me in my column on 2001/9/2.

Kale: The same, which also resemble +- those of the New York Times. The example of plagiarism by Ramos in my documentation has exactly the same nature and is of a greater amplitude than the examples the NYT cites in Jayson Blair’s case. See for example in the Blair dossier on the NYT’s site the use of phrases and quotes from an article by Tamara Jones in The Washington Post re a religious service which Blair did not attend. It is of course possible that La Vanguardia takes a more indulgent view of plagiarism than the NYT, and it is also possible that the Barcelona public doesn’t care about the quality of its paper. I hope not.

JMC: Why did it take you a week to reply to my message requesting a meeting?

Kale: Because, while you earn money with problems of this nature, all this costs me money. I have other more urgent priorities during my initial months in this country.

JMC: Why do you address me in a tone used by no other reader seeking my collaboration?

Kale: Because I am unable to imagine worthy motives for a delay of this nature in resolving a problem of such importance to a newspaper. The NYT did it in days. La Vanguardia has already taken months. Why?

JMC: Why do you ask me about the internal management of this problem?

Kale: La Vanguardia pays your salary, and I wondered whether the apparent lack of progress could be due to an external reason. From what you say, it would seem that you have not talked to the management of La Vanguardia about this problem. Am I correct?

Casasús has a bit of a go at me about how rude I am – I don’t use the correct C18th salutation and my Spanish is still not up to scratch – but I’m going to miss this man: he types the time of completion at the end of each message, apparently unaware of things like mail server datestamps. No, they don’t correspond.

(Updates in ethics section.)

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  1. When democracy came, the fat beards on the left thought that now it was their turn to do and lie as they wanted in pursuit of their agenda. It’s time for a new generation of journalists to run the show. I don’t agree with a lot of what Val, their guy in Washington, says, but at least he seems to be honest and capable of stringing a sentence together.

    (Just a thought. Ramos writes like someone with a substance problem, and his English is astonishingly bad for someone who claims to have spent most of his adult life in the Anglo Saxon world. Could he, in fact, be Rafael Ramos, Malaga cannabis lawyer?)

  2. If you can show that Ramos spent the 80s in Washington, smoking crack with Mayor Barry then I’ll give you 40% of the serialisation rights. I find it amusing that Casasús gets uptight about my Spanish but doesn’t seem particularly bothered about Ramos getting paid for writing complete gibberish. I’ve never read anyone who writes as badly as Rafael Ramos in that article. The explanations that occurred to me at the time were lunacy, crack, or a complex mixture of alcohol and pills.

  3. BTW: Hudibras, quoted Mackay: “Speak with respect and honour/Both of the beard and the beard’s owner.” They’re not all bad.

  4. Be polite to him or he’ll use that as an excuse for dropping the so called investigation.

  5. Me? Rude? I’m polite when sober and incomprehensible when drunk. Seriously, I am being polite to the man, but I think that what he would like is blind respect for his authority.

  6. Ramos invented the Brian Epstein quote in a story he wrote about (I’m sure) the release of the book by the surviving Beatles, so we’d need to look at the period of the Vangua’s archives right after that happened. It shouldn’t be too hard to find. In addition, after Ramos’s “interview” with BE, they printed a letter to the editor several days later pointing out that Mr. Ramos had interviewed a dead man. That’s got to be findable, too.

    I would love to browse the Vanguardia’s complete Rafael Ramos archive. They must have one, mustn’t they? I have the necessary spare time.

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