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Santa Monica Newspaper Publisher Explains Why He Removed Tyler Skaggs Story

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By Jorge Casuso

July, 8, 2019 -- A Santa Monica newspaper that sparked widespread outrage by speculating Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs had died of an opioid overdose explained this weekend why it removed the story.

The story posted online by the Santa Monica Observer shortly after Skaggs was found dead in his Texas hotel room July 1 was quickly denounced by the team's lawyers and police ("Local Paper's Take on Former Samohi Star Tyler Skaggs' Death Sparks Outrage," July 3, 2019.

In an editorial posted on the Observer's website Saturday, publisher David Ganezer said the story was removed after "death threats, lawyer threats and concern for personal safety."

"The Santa Monica Observer was attacked on multiple fronts," Ganezer wrote.

"Not simply in the form of a threat letter from lawyers 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 said the paper's staff received "multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources," including "a creepy text message" sent to a young female intern's phone.

"She wasn't frightened about it at all," Ganezer wrote. "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."

The letter to the paper from Kirkland and Ellis outlined its efforts to remove an original story that incorrectly reported police had found drugs in the former Samohi star's room.

"After the Southlake police confirmed it made no such finding, rather than apologize and take the article down, your reporter made matters worse by then speculating -- with zero facts to support your speculation -- that Tyler died due to an opioid overdose from multiple prescriptions like Tom Petty," the law firm wrote.

Skaggs' family has requested that any autopsy information be withheld until the medical examination, which will take up to 90 days, is completed, according to a report in USA Today.

Ganezer said The Observer would "have more to say about this story" in October, but he remains skeptical.

"The narrative that the Tarrant County police department and the Angels have fed the public and the press, doesn't make any sense to me," he wrote.

The Observer has a history of posting wildly speculative, and incorrect stories, in the past.

In January, it posted a story under the headline, "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Will Retire from the US Supreme Court in January, 2019."

In December 2016, it ran a headline that read: "Kanye West Appointed Under-Secretary of the Interior After Meeting at Trump Tower."

Both stories were written by Stan Greene, who also wrote the story on Skaggs' death that was removed.

Accompanying Ganezer's editorial Saturday was a pictue of Babe Ruth with the following caption:

"Like other dead people, the Babe is an historical figure, with no legal right to sue the living for defamation. Just saying."

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