Less than five months after an embarrassing front-page retraction of his story on the 1994 shooting of Tupac ShakurTupac Shakur, Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Philips has been let go by the paper in the latest round of newsroom layoffs, according to Variety.
Philips, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1999 for his stories on corruption in the music industry, was among the 150 or so Times staffers who are being laid off or accepting buyouts as a result of budget cuts.
Earlier this year, Philips wrote a front-page story for the paper alleging that Sean "Diddy" Combs and the Notorious B.I.G. were connected to the shooting of Tupac Shakur outside New York's Quad Studios. But the documents on which he based the story turned out to have been created by an imprisoned con man. The distressing revelation, uncovered by TheSmokingGun.com, resulted in an internal investigation by the paper and a retraction that included an apology for some erroneous reporting on another person implicated in the story, New York hip-hop manager Jimmy Rosemond, who called for Philips' firing at the time.
The paper also took the unusual step of not only retracting the online story that ran on March 17 and the shorter version that appeared in the paper two days later, but also the content of two online chats Philips participated in on March 18 and 25, and comments from the Times' Soundboard blog on March 21.
Philips — who has written a number of controversial stories about the murders of Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. over the years, some of which have also come under fire for their sourcing — had defended his reporting on the Shakur/Combs story in an interview with MTV News before the revelation of the forged documents. At the time the original story was published, both Rosemond and Combs vehemently denied any involvement in the shooting.
Philips did not return an e-mail for comment on his departure at press time.