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KCBS Apologizes for Erroneous Story on Simpson Prosecutor : Media: Station retracts suggestion that Clark went to estate before search warrant was served. Ethical issues beyond accuracy are raised.

July 16, 1994|GREG BRAXTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"It was an honest mistake, we regret it, and we apologized," Jordan said. "I'm not convinced that the time was in error, but I'm not confident that it's fact, so we had an obligation to retract the story."

The issue brought further attention to Levin, whose competitive style has rankled some colleagues, rivals and targets of his reports.

"I don't apologize for being an aggressive reporter," Levin said Friday. "I stand on my record and the stories that I've broken. We have quality control at this station. We made a mistake, we know how it was made, we've corrected it, and it is something that will not happen again."

The flap over the tape is just the latest in a series of disputed or erroneous reports about evidence in the Simpson case. Most notable have been an article stating that police had recovered a sharpened trenching tool that they believed was the murder weapon and a television report that a bloody ski mask had been recovered at the scene of the crime. Both were incorrect but were widely broadcast and discussed in the early days of the case.

(The Times did not publish either of those disputed reports, nor did it carry the KCBS-TV story.)

The station's actions Friday prompted a brief statement from the district attorney's office, saying that it appreciated KCBS' "taking responsible action in retracting its story."

Some media experts said the incident is a prime example of the pitfalls of pack reporting, particularly in the Simpson case.

"In no other story would there have been an inquiry into what time the prosecutor arrived at the scene," said Bryce Nelson, chairman of graduate journalism studies at USC. "The coverage has gotten real excessive when there's nothing new to report. It leads to stories that can be harmful or dubious."

Times staff writer Jim Newton contributed to this story.

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