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David Shapiro

By David Shapiro

Saturday, February 20, 1999

Honolulu Weakly’s
conflict of interest

LAURIE Carlson, publisher of the Honolulu Weakly, kicked off her latest five-page trashing of the Star-Bulletin and Honolulu's other daily newspaper by complaining that the big dailies avoid mentioning the Weakly.

Well, if she insists, let me tell a little story.

A few years ago, Carlson publicly speculated that the Weakly would benefit financially if the Star-Bulletin met its demise. She then sent her trained attack monkey -- an ad man named Robert Rees -- after us issue after issue to twist everything we did into some nefarious plot.

Since then, I'm never surprised to see the Star-Bulletin under assault in the Weakly. But I found it strange that several times recently the Weakly has ripped our coverage of embattled Bishop Estate trustee Lokelani Lindsey.

Why would a publication that tries so hard to paint itself as progressive want to act as chief apologist for a trustee best known for greedy gold deals and bullying students and staff at Kamehameha Schools?

It turns out that the reason may have little to do with journalism.

Carlson's husband Charles Giuli is an employee of Kamehameha Schools who was responsible for the questionable analysis of student test scores in Lindsey's 1997 report panning student achievement at the schools.

That Lindsey report is the chief bone of contention in the lawsuit to remove Lindsey filed by fellow trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis, now on trial.

James Popham, emeritus professor at UCLA's graduate school of education, testified during the trial that Giuli's work was "rife with misrepresentations" and "shoddy."

Lindsey's lawyer Michael Green asked Popham if he was trying to make Giuli look stupid, to which Popham replied: "There is enough evidence of that. I don't have to say that."

Popham said, "His work is what is incompetent."

Suddenly it becomes clear why the Honolulu Weakly's news columns have been put at the disposal of the Lindsey defense. The credibility of publisher Carlson's husband -- and possibly his job -- are on trial right along with Lindsey.

The Weakly says its integrity is not for sale. It seems that, like the publication itself, they give it away for free.

I asked Carlson if she has disclosed her conflict of interest to her readers. She said she thinks it came up in a story "sometime in the last three years," but declined to provide a copy of the story disclosing the conflict.

"Mr. Rees writes these articles and I have kept my hands off of this subject," she said.

We rarely mention the Weakly because it's a no-win proposition to respond to featherweight publishers trying to make names for themselves by taking cheap shots at us.

But the Weakly has repeatedly maligned our motives in covering the Bishop Estate. It's only fair to point out publisher Carlson's less-than-pure motives for attacking us if she won't do the ethical thing and tell readers herself.

THE dishonorable publishing practices of the Weakly stain all media. That does the Star-Bulletin more harm than the garbage the Weakly actually writes about us.

I don't gladly bring Carlson's spouse into this, but she opened that door herself in her latest issue when she let her monkey attack two other local media marriages. One of them involves the Advertiser reporter who covers -- guess who -- Lokelani Lindsey.

In his latest vituperation, the monkey gave me backhanded credit for eloquence in a column. I thank him. Eloquent journalism comes from truth, integrity and professionalism. He and his boss should try it sometime.

David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at editor@starbulletin.com.

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