Web site posts Jackson grand jury testimony

February 19, 2005|By James Rainey | James Rainey,LOS ANGELES TIMES

LOS ANGELES - The three-man staff at the Smoking Gun had been crashing on the story well into the wee hours Wednesday night and then through the day Thursday - scrambling to review, scan and post hundreds of pages of what the Web site claimed was grand jury testimony from the Michael Jackson sexual molestation case.

"We need a back room full of monkeys to put all this stuff up there," said William Bastone, co-founder and editor of the New York-based news outlet. "We are not called on very often to process this much stuff."

Tired but ebullient, the Smoking Gun's operators appeared, once again, to have scooped the United States' biggest media outlets - and plenty of tabloid competitors - by obtaining and publishing much of a 1,903-page document that had been sealed by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Rodney S. Melville.

Repeatedly over the last eight years, the tart, celebrity-centric Web site (thesmokinggun.com) has found and posted original documents about the missteps of the rich and famous - and those who aspire to same.

The Web site's targets have been unable to dent the credibility of the reports. Many of the revelations, however, have challenged mainstream media outlets, where news managers must decide whether to republish the information.

On Thursday, editors at the Los Angeles Times and The New York Times were among those who decided not to run the accounts since neither newspaper could confirm that the posted documents on the Web site matched those on file in the Santa Barbara County Superior court. The Associated Press took a similar position.

Jury selection is scheduled to resume next week after a break called when Jackson fell ill.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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