The Pequod Review:
The stakes are a bit low in Paul Pringle's Bad City — a prominent medical school dean is found to have used drugs and hired a prostitute — and Pringle writes in an overly dramatic activist tone, but he has a pretty good story to tell about his multi-year investigation into a scandal that a lot of institutions had an interest in covering up. Pringle was a fifteen-year reporter for the Los Angeles Times when in 2016 he received a tip that Carmen Puliafito, the Dean of USC's Keck School of Medicine, had been in a Pasadena hotel room with a young woman who overdosed on drugs. His investigation took more than a year, as USC and the City of Pasadena were reluctant to share information on such a prominent individual. Pringle's story hums along with an impressive sort of craftsmanship, driven in large part by his very detailed account of interviews, internal Times meetings, public records requests, and other developments in the case. But Pringle has an exaggerated focus on the behavior of his Times superiors (whose efforts to vet the story seem to bother him more than Puliafito's actions) and he comes across as a crusading warrior whose default belief is that all powerful people are corrupt. If I were a newspaper editor I don't think I'd enjoy having him as an employee either, and his lack of self-awareness throughout the entire investigation makes you realize why journalists show up toward the bottom of public opinion esteem surveys.