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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Julian Davis' Attack on SF Weekly Gets It Wrong

Posted By on Tue, Oct 16, 2012 at 2:22 PM

click to enlarge Julian Davis, middle, has lost endorsements from Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, and the Guardian - CENTER PHOTO: LUKE THOMAS
  • Center photo: Luke Thomas
  • Julian Davis, middle, has lost endorsements from Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, and the Guardian

When confronted with allegations from Kay Vasilyeva that he inappropriately touched her beneath her clothing, Julian Davis attacked. He had his attorney send a cease-and-desist letter threatening her with "significant legal liability." It was this action, according to Supervisors John Avalos and David Campos, that led them to strip their endorsements from Davis. 

In a press release put out today, Davis denies the allegation, as he did, strenuously and repeatedly, in SF Weekly's article. He then goes on, however, to attack me: 

Davis also said that reliable sources informed him that SF Weekly reporter Joe Eskanazi (sic) expressed to them "serious doubts" about the veracity of the accusations, the timing and credibility of the story, and was on assignment from his editors and "seriously conflicted" about going to press.

I did not say these things, because I do not believe these things. 

I was not "on assignment" from my editors. This was a story that originated with me. My editors did not drive the reporting of this story, and were not more actively involved than they would be for any article. They would have not allowed it to run if they did not believe the facts warranted it to do so. 

I did not question the timing, as I first met with Vasilyeva in August. She reiterated to me the allegations she made to others many months earlier. As noted in our article, the late running date of our story is due to Vasilyeva's decision to go on the record only after the wording of the Guardian endorsement led her to believe the paper was obfuscating and minimizing allegations of mistreating women. 

The timing of the article was also due to our need to do further reporting, contact sources, and attempt to get them on the record. Unattributed sources, unlike those in Davis' release, were not quoted. 

Finally, I did not express "serious doubts" about Vasilyeva's allegations because, if I had felt this way, I was under no obligation to write the article. I have staked the reputation of this paper on the trustworthiness of this source, which is not an action to be taken lightly. My concerns were with doing my due diligence and writing the fairest and most journalistically sound article possible.  

This leads to Davis' last accusation, that I was "conflicted." This is accurate -- but not for the reasons he would insinuate. 

The job of a journalist is to sift through the evidence, weigh the facts, report and report some more, and produce the most accurate article possible. I expressed, perhaps a bit too honestly, my knowledge that running this article would affect people personally and professionally, and potentially aid politicians and political factions to whom I have no allegiance or sympathy. This is the nature of being "conflicted," not questions about the veracity of our on-the-record source. 

Allowing the potential ramifications of your work to influence the editorial process places one outside the business of practicing journalism and into the realm of managing the news.

That's not what we do here. And that's not what I did.  

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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