Home > LACMA's Questionable Rug Purchase >Further Thoughts re: The LA Times Article
email: jc@rugkazbah.com
Wed, Feb 23rd, 2005 11:03:57 AM
Topic: Further Thoughts re: The LA Times Article

Further Thoughts re: The LA Times Article

It is abundantly clear the article published in the LA Times on Monday was very carefully worded in favor of the Museum, Dodds and Denny.

Their reporter was not shy about portraying them in the best light possible. However, more importantly for the issue at hand – the age and supposed importance of the carpet – was her leaning over backwards like a play-boy bunny used to serve a cocktail to avoid saying anything negative or, in our opinion, reality-based. Even worse, ms. Muchnic, a staff writer in the Arts and Culture department, endeavored to portray Jack Cassin and RugKazbah.com’s arguments in the least favorable light possible.

Clearly this was done because LACMA is Los Angeles County’s most important Art Museum and undoubtedly has some, if not more than some, influence on and connections to the upper echelons of the paper.

This is not an opinion but a fact anyone would conclude from an unprejudiced reading.

It is not difficult to imagine this and, frankly, we expected an uphill struggle would ensue when we watched the story getting bounced around to different writers in the editorial section of the newsroom, finally landing in Ms. Muchnic’s hands.

Did she play patsy to that influence?

In answer to that question the list of instances where Muchnic misrepresented, and even ignored, salient parts of RugKazbah.com’s position goes a long way to support our contention she did.

1. While Cassin’s credentials as a expert are not as obvious as Denny’s, or even Dodds’s, his expertise is on par, if not superior to theirs. This fact is well documented by Denny revising the opinion he originally forwarded about the carpet’s age to almost where Cassin placed it at the end of the 18th century. RugKazbah.com spoke directly to Denny and here is what he had to say to us “I told them (LACMA) it (the rug) was between 1650 and 1750 but probably at the late end of that continuum.”.

We cannot understand how Muchnic, or her editor, failed to see the importance of this, since the Times sent a writer to Denny’s lecture at the Museum where he said exactly the same thing. Denny’s recantation does nothing more than make the rest of Cassin’s contentions about the rug far more believable and, at the same time, call into question his expertise in comparison to Cassin’s. Both Denny and Cassin made their assessments from photographs and having previously seen the rug many years ago. Denny’s failure to correctly assess it without an in person inspection shows superior credentials do not necessarily prove superior expertise.

2. The verification of Cassin’s position concerning the carpet’s probable age also calls into serious question the rest of the stories Dodds told LACMA and supports Cassin’s proof all of this was only sales-talk and far from factual. Again Muchnic chose to ignore these facts, which included Cassin’s tracing the rug back to its appearance in a European dealer’s catalogued exhibition in 1981. This discovery debunked Dodds’s alleged history of the rug and while the article did state “Cassin….claimed that the same work (the carpet) was sold in 1981 for $30,000.oo”, Muchnic failed to mention it as a fact and instead presented it only as a “claim”. This is just one more instance of the article’s rewriting facts, and even questioning them, to support LACMA’s desire to maintain the fictional stories the Museum and Dodds want to everyone to believe.

3. The article’s selective choice of but two of the ten points Cassin raised in RugKazbah.com’s first article about the rug’s purchase - entitled “LA Art Museum's Questionable Rug Purchase Revealed” - is surely not what we’d call good reporting. And since both of these were the most subjective it would appear Muchnic had help from the other side in choosing them. But even worse than the article’s failure to mention the eight other far more easily documented ones was ignoring the many others that appeared in subsequent articles on RugKazbah.com. A number of these included comparisons to similar carpets that are correctly dated to the 16th and 17th century, all of which show LACMA’s rug unfavorably. In fact, it is impossible to compare the LACMA rug to any genuine middle18th century, or earlier, Turkish rug of similar type and not show its deficiencies. It’s clear this is why the article chose to demur on this count as well.

4. Any astute reader, even one totally unfamiliar with historic Turkish rugs of this type, who read these articles on RugKazbah.com could not possible swallow Dodds’s preposterous claim the rug he sold LACMA is “…one of the great carpets of this type in existence." Allowing such a ludicrous and patently false statement to stand unquestioned, in light of all the contradictory evidence available to the writer and her editors, makes mincemeat of their credo to report the facts.

5. The article failure to mention the web-address of RugKazbah.com – http://www.rugkazbah.com - or even its existence is, we feel, the most egregious example of Muchnic and the Times editorial staff’s culpability. Naturally had they many readers could have heard the facts of this story first-hand, which was clearly something this article refused to allow.

We could go on citing errors, omissions and misrepresentations of the facts at play here but feel the five we have enumerated here and those in the previous comments we offered about the article should be enough to prove the claim this piece was, at the least, poorly researched and written and, at the most, influenced by the paper’s collusion with a powerful Museum at the expense of the truth.

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