The Los Angeles Times will conduct an internal investigation concerning the authenticity of documents used in a story that implicate associates of Sean “Diddy” Combs in a 1994 assault on Tupac Shakur, the editor of the newspaper said Wednesday.
In a story posted on the newspaper Web site, Editor Russ Stanton said he ordered the review after the editor of the Web site The Smoking Gun told the newspaper he had reason to doubt the validity of the FBI records that were supposed to back up the story.
“We’re taking this very seriously and we have begun our own investigation,” Nancy Sullivan, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, told The Associated Press.
The Smoking Gun said the documents seemed phony because they appeared to be written on a typewriter instead of a computer, included blacked-out sections not typically found in such documents, and other reasons. The Smoking Gun story claims the documents were created by a convicted con man and music fan with a history of exaggerating his place in the rap music world.
Combs denies that he had any prior knowledge of or involvement in the 1994 robbery and shooting of Shakur at a New York recording studio.
The Times has said its March 17 story was based on FBI records, interviews with people at the scene of the 1994 shooting, and statements to the FBI by an informant. None of the sources was named.
The 1994 shooting triggered the celebrated feud between East and West Coast rappers that led to the killings of Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.
The story said associates hoping to curry favor with Combs — who was overseeing B.I.G.’s white-hot career at the time — lured Shakur to the studio because of his disrespect toward them.
The Times story posted Wednesday said the newspaper had not responded as of Tuesday to a request for a retraction from Combs’ attorney, Howard Weitzman.
The March 17 story and related features on latimes.com attracted nearly 1 million hits — more viewers than any other story on latimes.com this year, the newspaper said.