April 21, 2015

The story of two Pulitzer-nominated reporters leaving Tulsa World just after they broke the story about Robert Bates' training seemed bizarre at first, but perhaps it's just bizarre timing.

Then again, it's interesting that the Tulsa Sheriff made a point of appearing on Lawrence O'Donnell's show to rebut their report (video above).

Talking Points Memo reports:

Two reporters have resigned from an Oklahoma newspaper after publishing an article that alleged supervisors in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office were ordered to falsify training records for a white reserve deputy charged with manslaughter in the shooting of an unarmed black man, the newspaper's executive editor confirmed Monday to TPM.

Staff writer Dylan Goforth and enterprise editor Ziva Branstetter of The Tulsa World newspaper published a report Thursday that cited multiple anonymous sources alleging supervisors had signed off on firearms certifications and field training that Reserve Deputy Robert Bates did not complete.

I could see where pressure from the Sheriff might have created some conflict, but it looks as though timing is the culprit.

Goforth told TPM in a direct message over Twitter that he, Branstetter and two other The Tulsa World reporters had another job offer in the works for a few months. The offer came from a local news website that hasn't been launched yet.

"Word got out Friday night, and they told us stay or go today. So we're officially at the new job today," he said.

It looks like the paper's loss is another site's gain, since Goforth and Branstetter were finalists for the Pulitzer in the investigative reporting category for 2015. They were lauded for "courageous reporting on the execution process in Oklahoma after a botched execution – reporting that began a national discussion."

Tulsa World did confirm that they are double-checking the anonymous sources quoted in Branstetter and Goforth's article, however, so it would seem the pressure is still on.

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