Ralph Cipriano’s journalistic assault on the mayor, DA, police commissioner and the Philadelphia Inquirer
Ralph Cipriano is the journalistic bane of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
His website, www.Bigtrial.net, offers the veteran reporter’s take on the city’s liberal leadership and the near-lockstep media. One recent post about the late Joe Frazier and the 21 other dead people who voted in the 2020 election received more than 80,000 hits.
Cipriano was born in Waterbury, CT, and attended the University of Missouri Journalism School. He worked for Connecticut newspapers, the Albany Times-Union and the Los Angeles Times before being hired by the Inquirer. He was assigned to the religion beat, where his stories on Archbishop Bevilacqua led to his firing and his successful lawsuit against the newspaper. You can read about this at www.ralphcipriano.com).
Cipriano has also written books about Philadelphia lawyer James Beasley Sr., Philadelphia hitman John Veasey, and former State Sen. Vincent Fumo. His latest book is Doctor Dealer: A Doctor High on Greed, a Biker High On Opioids and the Woman Who Paid the Ultimate Price, written with George Anastasia.
“Bigtrial is a trial balloon that’s been blown up a couple of times,” Cipriano said.
“I was hired by the Beasley law firm after I couldn’t find a job in journalism, amazingly, after I sued my own newspaper for libel. Jim Beasley Jr. hired me to write a book about his dad, James Beasley Sr., as his dad represented me in my case against the Inquirer. I loved the guy. I started to write a book with him about his favorite cases. I interviewed him a bunch of times and then he died. The son decided to go ahead anyway, so it turned into a biography.
“The son suggested I go down to the courthouse and write something for their website. So I started writing a legal blog in 2009. People started tuning into it because I was covering the Fumo case. Jim Beasley wanted to do more courtroom stuff on a different website that would link to the Beasley Law Firm, so we added George Anastasia during a mob trial in 2012, and we became Bigtrial.net.”
Cipriano said Beasley was paying him and Anastasia to cover the courts until 2016, when he stopped funding the site. Anastasia left, and he lost his sponsor, but Cipriano decided to go on.
Philly cops started reading the site when Cipriano began writing about District Attorney Larry Krasner. Cipriano discovered a wealth of sources that had previously failed to have critical stories about Krasner published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
“Yeah, we all agree we need criminal justice reform. Yeah, we all agree that a guy carrying a joint shouldn’t be in jail, but Krasner has no discernment,” Cipriano said.
“He has let violent criminals out of jail. He sees his whole mission as being a champion for criminals.”
Cipriano said Krasner thinks criminals are the victims of the justice system because of poverty and racism and that he doesn’t care about true crime victims at all.
“The blog has a law-and-order base fandom, which is kind of weird, as in my last two jobs I was known for writing about police brutality. The cops hated me then, so it is sort of amusing to me that I’ve come all the way around.
“I’ve always been a registered Independent and I’ve been ‘a pox on both your houses’ kind of guy,” Cipriano said.
“I was a classic liberal reporter when I came to this town. I have definitely become more conservative or libertarian in outlook.”
I asked him about Police Commissioner Outlaw.
“Outlaw is totally incompetent. Kenney didn’t do any of the normal hiring processes. He was looking for a Black female as he was concerned about the optics, and that’s what he got. I sent her 30-page crime fighting plan to three or four high-ranking law enforcement officials, including one who was willing to be quoted on the record, and they called it a B-minus sociology paper.
“Her boss, Kenney, is a complete traitor to everything he used to believe. I used to think I knew him to a degree when he was a city councilman, but this guy – I don’t recognize. He’s a leftwing lunatic,” Cipriano said.
The Inquirer has become a Democratic house organ, Cipriano says, and Philadelphia Magazine is identical editorially to the Inquirer and nearly every other media outlet in Philadelphia.
“It’s ridiculous. There is no difference in point-of-view at all,” Cipriano said.
“How can you run a democracy when no one is watching the store?”
Here at Philadelphia Weekly, we will be covering city government with a critical eye.
Paul Davis’ Crime Beat column appears here each week. He is a Philadelphia writer who has written extensively about organized crime, cybercrime, street crime, white-collar crime, crime fiction, crime prevention, espionage and terrorism.