Santa Monica Observer publisher David Ganezer has issued an op-ed explaining why his media outlet removed a story speculating that 27-year-old Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of an opioid overdose.
The original story was slammed by Texas Police and the Angels, both claiming that no determination had been made on the cause of Skaggs’s death pending toxicology reports and the results of an autopsy. Those results could take as many as 90 days to be delivered. Skaggs was found dead on July 1 in a Texas hotel room, with police already ruling out suicide or foul play.
The Observer op-ed, titled “Why Did We Take Down Our Original Story About The Death of a Ballplayer?” and sub-titled “a combination of death threats, lawyer threats and concern for personal safety,” claims that the publisher, who has health problems and recently lost a brother, is “unwilling to risk my life, or the safety of others around me, simply in order to post news stories on the Internet.”
“The narrative that the Tarrant County police department and the Angels have fed the public and the press doesn’t make any sense,” Ganezer said.
He claimed the story’s author, Stan Greene, “wrote his opinion and information he had, on the story. We posted it, and the Santa Monica Observer was attacked on multiple fronts. Not just in the form of a threat letter from attorney’s Kirkland and Ellis, representing the Angels and a certain deceased ball player. And not just in the form of anonymous phone calls and emails.”
Ganezer claims that the media outlet received “multiple threatening comments from anonymous sources. We’ll never know if they were actually acquainted with the deceased, or just fans, but I do know that a young female intern from our organization got a creepy text message on her phone, just after midnight. She wasn’t frightened about it. But I was. I’m older, much older; and I know more about how out of hand the potential pile-on is getting in this country.”
He concluded by saying the Observer would further comment on the story when the autopsy and toxicology reports are issued in October.