An Open Letter to Reuters Reporters Nate Raymond and David Ingram

Dear Mr. Raymond and Mr. Ingram:

Today you reported on the arrest of the widely-hated Martin Shkreli on securities fraud charges. You ran a picture of the "perp walk" — the once-free now-defendant being led away in handcuffs by law enforcement:

Image owned by Reuters, used for criticism and commentary, no copyright asserted.

Image owned by Reuters, used for criticism and commentary, no copyright asserted.

Here's your oblique comment about getting that sought-after shot:

Reuters witnessed Shkreli's predawn arrest at the Murray Hill Tower Apartments in midtown Manhattan. Law enforcement, including FBI agents, could be seen escorting the hoodie-clad 32-year-old into a car.

Now, it's possible that Reuters photographers were outside those apartments before dawn because of moxie and hustle. Maybe someone tipped them that a whole bunch of feds had just shown up at that building, and they put two and two together and ran right over in time for the shot. Maybe they heard coordination with the locals over police scanners.

Or maybe not.

Based on my experience with perp-walked clients1, I think the more likely scenario is that a government agent responsible for investigating and prosecuting Mr. Shkreli tipped Reuters off about the arrest — that someone told Reuters to be there to catch the perp walk.

If Reuters was there through independent investigation, then good for them. But if Reuters was there because of a tip from law enforcement, then I'd like to ask a couple of questions.

There are two subjects on which Reuters could have informed its audience, two sets of questions it could have answered:

Subject One: Who leaked the time and place of the arrest? Was it an FBI agent, a prosecutor, staff, a coordinating local cop? How high up in the government did the decision to leak the arrest go? Did the leak violate the law? Did it violate the defendant's rights? What was the government's purpose in leaking the time and place of the arrest? How does this instance fit into the pattern of which arrests get leaked and which don't? Which nonviolent defendants without records get arrested, and which get summonsed in (or self-surrender through arrangement with their lawyers), and why? What impact does a front-page picture of a defendant in handcuffs have on the jury pool? Is that impact a feature, or a bug, of leaking it? Was the leak intended to inflict extra-judicial humiliation and punishment on the defendant? If the government lies about whether or not it leaked, would you still keep it secret?

Subject Two: What would Martin Shkreli look like being led away in handcuffs?

It seems Reuters chose to address the second subject.

I don't know whether or not you two personally had a hand in accepting any leak from the government, or whether you even know what happened. But I'd still like to ask you about that choice.

Why did Reuters choose Subject Two over Subject One?

Why should I trust Reuters' reporting on criminal justice matters when it is the type of organization inclined to answer the banal tabloid question posed by Subject Two, rather than the questions contained in Subject One?

Thank you,

Ken White

Edited to add P.S.: Someone better than I at paying attention points out that the photo credit on Reuter's page gives Mr. Raymond himself the credit for the shot. So.

  1. That link leads to my favorite perp-walk story. My second favorite press-and-cops-hand-in-hand story: cops showed up at client's house with a search warrant and a bunch of ready-assemble boxes to cart stuff away. But they found almost nothing. But they had tipped the press, and the press was outside. So inside the house, they assembled the boxes and put the lids on the boxes, then carried the boxes to their cars in a manner suggesting they contained lots of stuff. The press obligingly reported that the cops had seized boxes of materials from the client's house.  

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Dan Audy says

    While I am in general agreement with the thrust of the post regarding abuse of power to subject individuals to extra-judicial punishment in the form of humiliation, I'm not sure if this was actually taken by Reuters. The image quality and lack of zoom makes it look like a fairly generic cell phone picture presumably taken by a passer-by and then purchased by Reuters rather than anything taken by a professional photographer who had been tipped off. If it was taken by a professional then they need to be fired posthaste because that is a very mediocre photo.

  2. David C says

    Since "Reuters witnessed Shkreli's predawn arrest", it doesn't really matter whether they actually took the picture; unless they are lying, they were still there.

  3. Pekka says

    I'm curious: will captioning the image with "used for criticism and commentary" really make a difference (in front of a judge) if the image's owners decide to give you grief about using it?

  4. Resolute says

    As soon as I saw that story, I thought of Popehat. Given who the perp is, I suspect that someone was tipped off about the arrest. Because if there is one guy everyone wants to look guilty, it's Shkreli.

  5. Kevin says

    I don't know if it was Pekka's intent, but the interesting question is: does the disclaimer serve any purpose? Clearly the use of the picture is protected by the fair use doctrine.

  6. JD Fenstermacher says

    Ooo! Can I play? I have a ridiculous perp walk story to share!

    The next town over from mine is Nazareth, Pennsylvania. For the last few years, there has been a running battle between some bloggers, a large group of citizens, and retired (or forcibly retired) police officers against the chief of police for all sorts of nefarious behaviors that stopped just short of actual corruption.

    This came to a head about a year ago when some unknown person plastered 'Fire Trachta!' (the chief in question) stickers all over the parking meters up and down some of the main streets. The chief predictably went nuts and after a ridiculous amount of effort, arrested 3 twenty-somethings for the crime of vandalism. (No word on if there were 8×10 color glossy photos with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one to be used as evidence against them.)

    Here's where the most ridiculous perp-walk I've yet heard of comes in:

    The courtroom where these gents would be arraigned for the crime of vandalism was in the same building as the jail they were held in, just up a flight of stairs. This didn't sit well with Chief Trachta who called up various local media outlets, informed them where and when to be on the street outside the courthouse, and then led the 3 accused, in handcuffs and shackles, out of the courthouse, up the street, down the alley, and into a backdoor of the very same building to the courthouse.

    Beat that?

  7. David C says

    @Kevin: Well, it might give pause to any lawyer who thinks about filing a lawsuit. And giving credit can't hurt the fair use factors; anyone now knows how to find the original.

    As far as the rest of it goes, Nate Raymond says on his twitter feed that he'll look at this, so I'll suspend any piling-on until he has chance to respond.

  8. Myk says

    First, I'd be lying if I said that Shkreli's arrest and the associated humiliation does anything but fill me with joy, regardless of any judicial outcome in the future.

    That said, my first thought on seeing the photo was "Oh, it's mighty "coincidental" that Reuters "just happened" to be outside at the perfect time to photograph the perpetual walk. I wonder who tipped them off?" The additional theatrics of handcuffs in order to prime the public to view Shkreli as a dangerous, and therefore probably guilty, man is interesting. Once again, no inquiry into who alerted the media will be forthcoming, showing the cops' disdain for ethics, due process, and general professionalism.

    As someone wiser and more sanguine than I once said, BTFSTTG.

  9. Brian Z says


    I don't know if it was Pekka's intent, but the interesting question is: does the disclaimer serve any purpose? Clearly the use of the picture is protected by the fair use doctrine.

    Yes, though its chief purpose may be a social one, not legal. It demonstrates a commitment to responsible blogging practices where copyright norms are respected, and serves as implicit encouragement for others to do the same.

  10. Dan Weber says

    I think Ken would enjoy a Fair Use debate in a courtroom, since it would force the question of "so just how in bed are you with the cops?" to receive even wider discussion.

  11. Stewart Vardaman says

    I don't get it…the Reuters link doesn't show that photo outside apartment building, it just shows later video. And the text of article has changed…earlier it said "Reuters witnessed Shkreli's predawn arrest…" but now it's been reworded. What's up with that?

  12. Brian Z says

    The media coverage (both past and present) has made it very easy to viscerally hate this man. Even as I was reading today's reports about his alleged "ponzi scheme," my own better angels of internal dialog were overcome:

    Me 1: "I wonder if he's actually innocent but the local prosecutor is railroading him because it would be professionally lucrative to take down such an unpopular guy?"

    Me 2: "Come on, why would they spend time on building a case against him unless he did it? He's gotta be guilty!"

    And that was it! Thank you for highlighting the Wen Ho Lee case. It restored me to sanity (until my next episode of feelz).

  13. piperTom says

    Resolute says "if there is one guy everyone wants to look guilty, it's Shkreli." NO. Not me. The whole super-priced drug probelm originated in the FDA and its policy of creating "patents" for old drugs. I'll save my hatred for the bureaucrats.

  14. MethodicJon says

    I think you're way off base. It looks like a crappy mobile phone camera shot. Nate probably was in the area and just got lucky. I think if he would've been truly tipped, he would've been there with a better camera and taken a photo that was not blurry.

  15. Steve says

    Speaking from experience here, it was likely the FBI. The press liaison in San Francisco in the late 80's was notorious for telling everyone even though news of an an arrest was supposed to be embargoed, or subject to pool camera.

    Now, from the news side, if you did get a tip, and didn't get a camera there, you can start mailing your resume and tape before the guard shows up at your desk with an empty banker's box. It's a matter of public record, it's shot on a sidewalk off private property, and as long as all the facts are straight, it's a legitimate story. So there's Subject Two.

    Now, regarding Subject One: Good effing luck. This guy has been in the news for more than three months now, and outside of like-minded sociopaths, has no sympathy for his plight. If a jury is going to be prejudiced, it happened long ago, and any perp-walk photo will have no bearing on that at this point.

    @piperTom: It's not the FDA, it's Congress and what's called the Orphan Drug Act. It was passed to encourage pharmaceutical companies to pick-up production of drugs for rare or uncommon diseases with the incentive being they could have exclusive rights to produce what had been a generic compound with no economic incentive to continue manufacturing it.

    Shrkeli did this when he bought Resparin, and used it as a personal printing press (Colchicine was one of the drugs he did this with, and priced it out of the range of most insurance plans, so a gout attack is so much fun now for me). The law was not intended for this kind of outcome, but give the little weasel credit for finding a way to bend the law past its original purpose.

  16. RB says

    Steve, my grandfather claimed he cured his gout by eating lots of bing cherries, YMMV.

    Also, I think there are some doctors out there that will give you IV Colchicine for inflammation. One of them might be able to help you for less.

  17. KenB says

    Dan Weber says


    Why are you defending witches? Are you a witch?

    What makes you think he's a witch?

  18. gassman says

    Best and worst perp walk ever was the one with sandwich board "I stole from my uncle." which Albert made his nephew do, around the Real J_____ Foods place that summer. Un comfortable…

  19. Sami says

    I, too, am puzzled by how superlatively shithouse that photo is. I'm *not* a professional photographer, and I'd be embarrassed to put that picture online with my name attached to it. I mean, if I'd taken a picture of similar quality that happened to be crucial evidence in some sort of criminal investigation, I'd totally supply it to the prosecution and defense and be willing to testify, but if the case was getting a lot of media attention I'd ask the judge politely if we could not tell the media I took it.

    Given that this particular photo has zero news value, I'm kind of appalled that Reuters ran it, and filled with disdain that someone let his name be "credited" with it.

  20. Visser Three says

    I definitely suspect that the photo wasn't taken by the Reuters guy. And all told, the photo looks like something that a professional photographer would be unwilling to put his name on. It looks like a shitty mobile camera shot. I suspect whoever took it was in the area, sent it to the Reuters guy, and he took credit. If it's anything else, I feel sorry for Reuters for having such a shitty photographer.

  21. TBlakely says

    Just say the video was 'heavily edited' and be done with it. That's the du juor excuse for embarrassing videos these days.

  22. says

    My favorite perp walk story is the one that Popehat defended; the one where Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested with lots of great press coverage to highlight the Obama/Hillary! story that his video caused the catastrophe at Benghazi.

  23. Quiet Lurcker says

    Silly question, I suppose, but what are the chances this perp walk (irrespective of the bad photo) had more to do with the increase in price on Darapram than on his being guilty? That this one wasn't about getting some attorney notoriety, or making the streets look safe, or even about convincing the public that Shkreli really is guilty, and never mind how an honest court might find, simply because he got walked out in handcuffs?

  24. Dan says

    Do organizations like Reuters and AP have policies about perp-walk coverage? If not I guess the policy is "yes please."

  25. Dusty says

    I love Reuter's eye for detail, "hoodie clad" description in the caption — "Another hoodie cladder getting perp-walked; aren't they are all the same?"

    Unfortunately, Shkreli isn't shown actually employing the signature feature of hoodie attire. Then again, it's a snapshot in time. Shkreli might have been deeply buried in his hoodie for maximum anonymity as he's taken into custody, and the wind blew it off his head, or the police pulled it off for the big show, or the Reuter's witnesses ask for a better view so they could verify what they were witnessing and the police obliged.

  26. Agammamon says

    Pekka says

    December 17, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    I'm curious: will captioning the image with "used for criticism and commentary" really make a difference (in front of a judge) if the image's owners decide to give you grief about using it?

    I'd say it more aimed at the photo owners than a judge.

    A pre-emptive reminder about Fair Use and governing themselves accordingly.

  27. Castaigne says

    @Brian Z:

    "I wonder if he's actually innocent but the local prosecutor is railroading him because it would be professionally lucrative to take down such an unpopular guy?"

    No, it seems they were investigating him long before he became very public. I can see why he resorted to stupid Ponzi schemes, though. Also, very amused that his attorney (also arrested on the same charges) is an avid Bitcoin proselytizer.

  28. says

    I wish I had a copy, but my favorite photo of this genre was from about 20 years ago in Cleveland Height, OH. A rather obese cop, in full black battle-rattle, was photographed carrying a single marijuana plant from a house being searched.

  29. Phe0n1x says

    I'm a mixed bag. I personally feel he's a douchecanoe. Should the cops have tipped off news media? No. But I will admit that I have some satisfaction seeing him in handcuffs. Though like most people here, it seems too perfect to be a coincidence to have Reuters NOT tipped off. I mean, they could have at least owned up to it.

  30. ScooterComputer says

    As mentioned by @Moneyrunner already, this sure seems to have a lot of parallels to the Nakoula Basseley Nakoula arrest…complete with the same Hillary Clinton-made-promises that the government would get him well-beforehand.
    A bit too coincidental with same modus operandi for my tastes. Not to mention the healthy sprinkling of "the ends justify the means".

  31. Vader says

    You'll never get a journalist to investigate his own leak. He'd be cutting himself off from a lucrative source forever.

    You may have better luck getting other journalists to investigate a journalist's leak. Though they do seem to join ranks when under attack.

  32. Whitey Kincaid says

    The media seem to have uncanny timing whenever a court overturns a ban on issuing gay marriage licenses. There always seems to be a newspaper photographer who just so happens to be at the court house right at the same time a gay couple arrives to get their license.

  33. perlchpr says

    @Steve: It's not the FDA, it's Congress and what's called the Orphan Drug Act. It was passed to encourage pharmaceutical companies to pick-up production of drugs for rare or uncommon diseases with the incentive being they could have exclusive rights to produce what had been a generic compound with no economic incentive to continue manufacturing it.

    I'm under the impression that this is at least partly the FDA's fault, by requiring full on drug trials (at an estimated cost of $2.5b) for anything given the go ahead before 1965, as Daraprim was in 1962. Of course, you're talking about a completely different drug, so it's entirely possible that both the FDA and Congress are to blame for setting up the regulatory schemae under which Shkreli was able to extract some serious rent-seeking profits.

    I'm certainly not inclined to give him a pass on his conduct, as being an asshole is still being an asshole, even if the behaviour in question is legal. But hey, if nothing else, now we all know what to petition our congresspersons to repeal. (And I'm not dismissing your gout issues either. I have it too, and holy fuckballs, I've never wanted an amputation as much as I have during a gout flare. I take allopurinol to deal with the excess urea, maybe your doc can switch you to that?)

  34. RB says

    Here's a conversation starter for you, and it's somewhat relevant to this post and recent comments.

    Premise: Sanctioned government leaks as we are presuming happened here are a violation of the first amendment rights of the reporters et al that did not receive the information.

    Argument: By selectively leaking information to only certain members of the press, the government is encouraging those members of the press to write stories that say what the government wants. By not leaking it to others, it puts those that did not receive the leak at a disadvantage, making it more costly to do their job, and effectively putting a tax on reporters et al that print things the government doesn't like.

    Solution: Any leak not in the form of a press release posted globally must be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent possible. The SEC already requires something like this with public companies, it's not a big stretch to require it for the government as well.

    Please comment.

  35. John DOe says

    When the government charges Jon Corzine, then I might start trusting the government. A little. When the government sends Lois Lerner on a perp walk instead of allowing her a full pension, then I'll know adults are in charge again. Not until…

  36. Brad says

    Journalists should be leaking the identity of authorized leakers to other journalists. How you come you never see "according a source at the NY Times, the highly placed source in the military that told them how awesome SEAL Team 6 did in the raid on OBL, was Col. So and So the press secretary for the United States Special Operations Command."

  37. lokiwisc says

    The perp walk photos are also indicative of the unsophistication of the press. The indictment, with its included emails, is far more damning of Shkreli than any photo of him in cuffs could possibly be. But they would rather get the photos than do the hard work of evaluating the governments claims.

  38. David C says

    RB: No, I don't like that. Sometimes leaks are in the public interest or inconsequential.

    I don't think a suspect has the right to a private arrest. As far as keeping an arrest secret goes, the purpose of that is not to protect his rights. The purpose of that is to not give the person about to be arrested time to flee. Tipping off the press – or any unnecessary person – may compromise that. If the person can't be trusted to turn himself in, then why are the police doing anything that has even the slightest chance of jeopardizing the arrest? If he can be trusted to turn himself in, then why not allow him to do so, and save the expense and police time of going to his apartment?

  39. Jakee308 says

    Why the outrage over this particular arrest? The cops always inform the photogs about any impending arrest photo op. This is SOP and has been for decades.

    So what's special about this one?

    I believe all of them are an outrage because of the image this pushes out to the public and it enables a cozy relationship between cops getting favors or something from the photogs for feeding them the info. Many times this is done against department policy yet it happens and no one pays for it.

    So how about some outrage when the subject isn't a guy like Shkreli?

  40. Dan Weber says

    Why the outrage over this particular arrest?

    Ken, I am so, so sorry.

    Separately, I wonder if David Ingram regrets his tweet saying he'd look at this, instead of just hoping it would get ignored.

  41. peejaybee says

    The media seem to have uncanny timing whenever a court overturns a ban on issuing gay marriage licenses. There always seems to be a newspaper photographer who just so happens to be at the court house right at the same time a gay couple arrives to get their license.

    Well, that's not what you'd expect to be a particularly long or difficult stakeout.

  42. PonyAdvocate says

    @Mr. White

    As at least one commenter observed, reporters report: that's their job. If they get tips, they evaluate the source of the tips, and then use them to their best advantage. If you were a reporter instead of a lawyer, and worth your salt, wouldn't you do what the Reuters guys did?

    Here's a hypothetical that I hope is roughly analogous: You are defending a client accused of a crime, and in the middle of plea negotiations, or a trial. Things are not going well: despite your client's protestations of innocence, the available evidence points pretty convincingly to his guilt. Suppose you receive information that exculpates your client; but this evidence is clearly illegitimate, and something you shouldn't have. Let's say, for example, you received in the mail a recording of someone else confessing to his own lawyer that he committed the crime of which your client is accused. Obviously, this is privileged information that no third party should possess. What do you do with the information? Will you use it to your client's advantage, even if doing so might be ethically or legally suspect? Even if it might put some other attorney's client in (admittedly, deserved) jeopardy? Or would you not use it, and keep your own client in serious jeopardy? If you know who purloined the information and sent it to you, and you know what the person's motivations are, how does that affect your decision? In any event, do you rat that person out?

    Finally, if some news reporter asks you a bunch of questions with the object of making you justify to him what you decide to do in the matter, do you subject yourself to his interrogation, or do you tell him, with all due courtesy and respect, to fuck off?

  43. richard40 says

    "Why did Reuters choose Subject Two over Subject One?"
    That is obvious, if you critically report on the leakers, you dont get any more leaks, and thus less easy stories in the future.

  44. David C says

    PonyAdvocate: That scenario involves you being responsible for someone else's freedom, and is not really comparable to a photographer's job. Maybe it would be more comparable if you changed your client's case to a civil case, but the other guy's case was still criminal. And maybe you don't have "evidence" but you came into an unflattering video of him drunk which could impugn his character or something.

    And as far as whether you answer questions… that's also different for a reporter than for a lawyer. Considering how much of a reporter's job it is to get other people to answer questions, it seems hypocritical for them to say that THEY are not going to answer any questions.

  45. Cromwell Descendant says

    It is rather hilarious that anybody doubts that the feds arresting somebody (in a city!) with a large number of agents and officers would attract a news response. They have news producers who work 24/7 to evaluate the information coming in, and their staff includes people who drive around, people who listen to police scanners, and people who keep track of what these other people are doing and where they are. If they get good tips, then they're there first and have the best angle and it is more likely that their shot gets used than everybody else's, and so they will absolutely try to develop working relationships with the agents. But they're there either way. Even in a small city the news will be there before accused parties are transported in most situations. The cops are focused on paperwork, on doing a bunch of specific steps, collecting evidence from the search that most likely is happening at the time of arrest. Unless there is some special security concern, then the process is going to take considerable time. And if you live in a highrise building, it is going to involve that much more time and logistics.

    I'm somewhat skeptical that it is reasonable to accuse them of wrongdoing first, not only because the accusation is leading knowledge of if it is true or not, but also because the giving of "tips" (information) to the public is not automatically even bad. Yet it is presented as some sort of ethical lapse. I think it is generally a known and true thing that the public having information about the arrests of persons serves the public interest. If a person is falsely arrested, they might actually benefit the most from having it publicized, as people with information regarding the accusation might know to come forwards to that person's lawyer. It seems to serve the public good regardless of guilt or innocence. If knowledge that the accused was arrested somehow will prejudice a jury, then it would be impossible to have a fair trail, except perhaps in absentia.

  46. bkh says

    For what it's worth, I saw the picture and thought, "was the perp walk set up by the authorities?" And "why isn't the source discussed if it was an official channel?"

    That's in large part to reading Popehat over the years.

  47. Joe says

    I do have to wonder if Martin Shkreli is being persecuted by the government for his desire to increase the price of a drug. He made a lot of the wrong kind of enemies when he did that. In an era where the typical person commits three felonies a day there is always something that the government can find to go after you with. All it has to do is look. Given that the NSA collects everything on everybody they don't have to look that hard.

    Shkreli may or may not be technically guilty of what the government is accusing him of. But even if he is that doesn't mean he isn't being targeted for political reasons. Such uses of government power reminds me of what Floyd Ferris said to Hank Reardon in Atlas Shrugged:

    "Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against… We're after power and we mean it… There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

  48. Jon Marcus says

    @Joe, oh FFS. Yeah, this scumbag is a Maker, being taken down by the feeble takers because they can't stand his success? I guess that's what too much Ayn Rand does to the brain.

    What Shkreli did with drug prices wasn't illegal, because most of the time it's a judgement call. Rarely are there cases like his, where the unethical, unproductive gouging so painfully clear. So I'm glad there's no law against it. But make no mistake, what he did should be illegal, if only the law didn't need to be administered by fallable humans.

    And what he's accused of doing is lying about securities and running a Ponzi scheme. If that can be proved in court, then he deserves what's coming to him. Not because he's a scumbag, but because he's a liar and a thief. Lying thievery is and should be against the law in any sane society.

    All that said, Kens' right. Using the power of the state to inflict extra-judicial humiliation is wrong, no matter the target. If that's what happened here, it's bad and Reuters should be calling it out, not covering it up.

    (Though…the linked story does say that someone identifying themselves as a Fed showed up on the guy's YouTube channel the night before the arrest. And there was a swarm of cops around the place when he was being busted. Anyone sniffing after a story could quite conceivably have been there to snap that shot without the connivance of the cops/Fed/prosecutors. Not sure why he wasn't given the chance to turn himself in, but it doesn't seem impossible the see him as a flight risk.)