|The Tampa Bay Times spent months researching the kratom consumer community, the sources of kratom raw materials coming from Southeast Asia, the vendors who manufacture and sell kratom in the United States, and alleged deaths associated with kratom use.
By the description of the Tampa Bay Times, 6 months of full time work by 4 journalists to expose what the reporters now claim to be a deadly substance marketed by sinister vendors.
Throughout those 6 months of intense discussions with these reporters, I can tell you they consistently showed their bias and unexplainable lack of interest in talking with any kratom consumer who says their experience with using kratom has improved the quality of their lives — or even saved their lives.
Consistently, the reporters told the AKA that was “not the focus” of their story.
Now the truth behind this biased hit job on kratom has come to light.
We now know why the “focus” of their story was who claim that kratom killed a family member — who may be potential clients for the trial attorneys — and not on those who claim kratom has helped them.
We now know why the “focus” of their story was on kratom vendors who are named defendants in product liability lawsuits by one group of trial attorneys.
It is because the Tampa Bay Times was receiving money from trial attorneys who provided both funding to support this biased attack on kratom and delivered anti-kratom claims from the clients those lawyers represent?
It is commonly called “Checkbook Journalism” but it is rarely so blatant as is the case with the Tampa Bay Times and their three-part hit piece on kratom.
When the AKA raised the issue of whether the story was being funded by trial attorneys — based on social media posts by Matt Wetherington, one of the leading trial attorneys who is bringing multiple kratom death lawsuits — the response from Rebecca Woolington, the Senior Story Editor/Investigations at the Tampa Bay Times, was shockingly strident. Ms. Woolington ignored and summarily dismissed the significant red flags about the direct collaboration between Mr. Weatherington and the Tampa Bay Times.
Here is what Ms. Woolington told the AKA in an email on November 6, 2023 after a lengthy discussion and followed by AKA sending several social media posts by Mr. Wetherington that raised legitimate questions about the fairness of the Tampa Bay Times investigation on kratom, in which she directly denied any funding by trial attorneys and claimed offense at the idea anyone would challenge the integrity of the Times.
Here are excerpts from that email::