posted on May, 16 2008 @ 03:38 AM
Here's the article - and why does nyt keep using that lame subscription feature? so lame!
The Media Equation
A Knock in the Night in Phoenix
Article Tools Sponsored By
By DAVID CARR
Published: May 12, 2008
On Oct. 18, Jim Larkin and his wife, Molly, were in bed in their home outside Phoenix when a group of men in unmarked cars pulled up and began
knocking on the door and shining flashlights in the house, saying, “You know what we want.”
Recalling the night on the phone last week, Mr. Larkin said, “I had no idea what they wanted.” Mrs. Larkin immediately called 911 and said, “Oh
my God, help us, please,” begging the police to find out who was threatening them at their door.
In fact, the cops were already on the case.
The Maricopa County Selective Enforcement Unit had arrived to arrest Mr. Larkin for the crime of disclosing the inner workings of a grand jury.
Michael Lacey, the executive editor of Village Voice Media, was arrested in similar fashion at his home near Phoenix.
Mr. Larkin and Mr. Lacey are the two principal owners of Village Voice Media, publisher of The Phoenix New Times. Earlier that day, under Mr.
Lacey’s and Mr. Larkin’s bylines, the paper published an article about a subpoena it had received demanding, among other things, the Internet
addresses and domain names of members of the public who had visited the newspaper’s Web site.
Reporters have ended up in handcuffs in the United States before — some have gone to jail to protect the identity of sources — but it is a rare
moment when someone here is imprisoned for the crime of typing.
In the months since, The Phoenix New Times has steadily covered a story it finds itself in the middle of, but its executives recently decided to match
the legal aggression from local authorities with some aggression of their own. At the end of last month, Mr. Lacey and Mr. Larkin filed a lawsuit
accusing the Maricopa County sheriff, the county attorney and a special prosecutor of engaging in a pattern of negligence, conspiracy and racketeering
motivated by an effort to suppress the newspaper’s right to publish and the public’s right to know.
The Phoenix New Times, the original paper of what is now a chain of 16 alternative weeklies that includes The Village Voice and LA Weekly, has been
engaged in a running battle with the Maricopa County sheriff, Joe Arpaio, on and off since 1992. He first came to prominence as a jailer who mandated
that his charges wear pink underwear, eat green bologna and live in a tent city where a neon vacancy sign he installed always glows, a reminder that
there’s always room at Joe’s Inn. He is the architect of both female and juvenile chain gangs, a first by most accounts, and transferred more than
3,000 prisoners to new facilities in their underwear, a scene that was captured eagerly by television crews.
Sheriff Arpaio has been historically a darling of television news. While his willingness to create a kind of tented gulag in the desert might be the
source of amusement to those who tire of stories of coddled prisoners, it should be pointed out that some of those prisoners have an alarming tendency
to die while under his care. On May 3, The East Valley Tribune reported, “More than 60 Maricopa County jail inmates have died since 2004, many from
illnesses that would be treatable in normal medical settings.”
More recently, he has been the self-appointed tip of the spear in the fight against illegal immigration, organizing posses that swept Hispanic
neighborhoods and arresting people his officers suspected of being illegal aliens.
The Phoenix New Times and the sheriff have traded roundhouses for years, but the dustup took a serious turn in July 2004, when John Dougherty, then a
reporter at the paper, wrote that Sheriff Arpaio had invested $690,000 in cash in commercial rea