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Meet the Reporter Larry Krasner Loves to Hate — And Ban From Press Conferences

Progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner recently banned his most tenacious muckracker, Ralph Cipriano of the Big Trial website, from press conferences. Then, amid concerns over a possible constitutional violation, Krasner allowed Cipriano to return, albeit with a new “decorum” rule.

“It’s viewpoint discrimination,” said Cipriano, 70, who was considering suing Krasner before the DA reconsidered. “He can’t bar a reporter from coming to a press conference.”

Cipriano, an investigative reporter who formerly penned prose for The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Los Angeles Times, is now his own boss at Big Trial. He’s also the author of several books, including “Courtroom Cowboy” and “Target: The Senator, A Story About Power and Abuse of Power.”

In a recent interview with DVJournal, Cipriano explained why he continues to aggressively cover Krasner, aka “Let ‘em Loose Larry,” about whom he’s written more than 300 articles since the DA took office in 2018.

“I just had a running battle with this guy,” said Cipriano. “On three different occasions, he ordered his detectives to forcefully remove me from press conferences. The first two times, they actually did it. They actually grabbed me and dragged me out.”

He told the detectives, “If you guys do this again, I don’t have anything against you [but] you may find yourself a defendant in a lawsuit because he can’t throw me out of a press conference.

“And then I found out in a response to a right-to-know request, his detectives have kept two working files on me. And they would not disclose them.”

Sometimes, Krasner will scurry out of press conferences rather than answer a question from Cipriano, he said.

But when Krasner took the additional step of banning Krasner outright, advocates for press freedom began raising questions.

Krasner banned Cipriano starting last month, allegedly for violating the DA’s press conference rules of not waiting to be called on. It wasn’t the first time the two had tussled. Two years ago, Cipriano was escorted out of a press conference by armed security, at Krasner’s behest. Again, the issue was following the DA’s rules.

Now a Krasner spokesperson says Cipriano is “welcome to attend” Krasner’s public events.

“Mr. Cipriano was temporarily prohibited from attending in-person press briefings due to the fact that he interrupted other journalists and talked down to them while they were trying to ask questions. This occurred following years of other disruptions,” said Dustin Slaughter, a spokesman for Krasner.

“He is now welcome to attend press conferences if he wishes, and Mr. Krasner will answer Mr. Cipriano’s questions, just as he has been doing for years (evidence of which is all on our Facebook livestream.) We sincerely hope that Mr. Cipriano respects other journalists trying to do their jobs and observes decorum just like any other journalist does during our briefings.”

Cipriano said his former employer, The Inquirer, tends to cover up for Krasner rather than doing its job as a watchdog for the public. For example, even as the 2020 murder rate began to skyrocket as Krasner’s policies of low or no bail and downgrading gun charges took hold, the “Inky” had his back, Cipriano said.

“I was shocked the Inquirer was not only afraid to write anything negative about Larry Krasner. but that they were actually promoting him as a progressive prosecutor who was reforming the criminal justice system,” said Cipriano.

“It just upsets me terribly my former newspaper is giving this guy a complete pass,” said Cipriano.

While at the Inquirer, Cipriano broke open a scandal regarding the former Catholic Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. However, the Inquirer was too timid to publish his article, so he sold it to The National Catholic Reporter. Later, when a reporter from The Washington Post asked about it, Cipriano said an Inquirer editor defamed him. He sued in 1998 and reportedly received a multimillion-dollar settlement. But he also lost his job.

Before Krasner, Cipriano “was [then DA] Seth Williams’ worst critic. I really shredded him.”

“And I gotta tell you, I’d take Seth Williams back in a minute right now because Larry’s guys are prosecuting 47 percent of the cases [that Williams did.]”

After losing funding for the blog, Cipriano wrote Big Trial without pay for several years “because I felt I owed it to journalism.” It’s now on Substack with a membership fee.

Krasner, “the preeminent law enforcement official in Philadelphia, as of this morning, owes $106,217 in back real estate taxes and $500 in commercial fees,” said Cipriano. Krasner is a 40 percent owner of Tiger Building LLP, which owes taxes, said Cipriano. “He’s repeatedly and brazenly broken our campaign finance laws.”

“And he has people on his staff who have committed crimes, OK?” said Cipriano. “His gun violence coordinator shot a male prostitute to death.”

A senior advisor left her 4-year-old daughter in a car, and “the cops arrested her for child abandonment,” said Cipriano.

Krasner was previously a defense attorney who often sued the police. Cipriano has chronicled Krasner’s war against the police that included a do-not-call list, prosecution of a detective who wouldn’t change his story and an indictment of an officer for murder that the state Supreme Court overturned. An assistant district attorney posted on Instagram a picture of graffiti that said “F**k the cops” with #Justiceforgeorgefloyd hashtags.

During the George Floyd riots, Krasner worked to free most of the 2,000 looters and demonstrators that police arrested during the riots.

Cipriano and his wife Rosemarie live in Philadelphia and have two adult sons. Cipriano continues to break news and remains a thorn in Krasner’s side.

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