Patterico's Pontifications

10/3/2003

THE DOG TRAINER DEFENDS ITSELF:

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:14 pm

THE DOG TRAINER DEFENDS ITSELF: John Carroll, the editor of the Dog Trainer, has defended the timing of the Arnold stinkbomb.

A few points seem in order. First, you may recall that John Carroll is the editor who issued an internal memo criticizing liberal bias that he had noticed in a front-page story about a Texas abortion law. In that memo, Carroll said: “we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times.” I mentioned the memo in this post from May 29. I said at the time that he deserves some respect for saying this, and I still think so.

However, Carroll is not convincing here. He can advance allegedly legitimate reasons for delaying the story — and he may even believe them — but whatever the reasons were, they were not going to result in the story being published on October 8. This simple fact illustrates that the Dog Trainer editors had some control over the timing of the story. It appears that they had plenty of the evidence for weeks, but they set their own deadline — and that self-imposed deadline was within a week of the election. That stinks.

What stinks worse than the timing is the fact that the sources are mostly anonymous. It’s hard to disagree with Susan Estrogen (name slightly altered for comedic purposes), who says (to the Dog Trainer‘s credit, on the pages of the Dog Trainer):

What this story accomplishes is less an attack on Schwarzenegger than a smear on the press. It reaffirms everything that’s wrong with the political process. Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics.

What stinks even worse than the anonymous sources is the anonymous tipsters. Nobody, but nobody believes that the Dog Trainer reporters found these women entirely on their own — nor does the story make that claim. The conclusion is irresistable that Democrat operatives (the name Bob Mulholland of the “real bullets” comment comes to mind) were behind this.

Sure, a newspaper often has anonymous sources — but if Democrat operatives were behind any of this, then it was pretty misleading for the story to say: “The Times did not learn of any of the six women from Schwarzenegger’s rivals in the recall race.” I have never read a more Clintonesque sentence. I am glad to know that Gray Davis did not personally call the Dog Trainer with this information, but I’d like to know who did, and what connection they have to Davis. (We do know that Davis operatives are at work prolonging the story — but we have to read the L.A. Weekly to learn that.)

And what stinks worst of all is the fact that, as I have mentioned here before, Dog Trainer editors have long known of similarly sourced accusations against Gray Davis that were far worse, and ignored them. Where was the seven-week investigation of Gray Davis’s personal life — in this campaign or the last? Or the one before that?

So, as much respect as I may have for John Carroll, he’s still got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.

GEE, I JUST CAN’T FIGURE

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:34 pm

GEE, I JUST CAN’T FIGURE IT OUT: Daniel Weintraub is so naive in this post, it almost seems like a parody of a ridiculously gullible individual. Discussing an Indian-sponsored ad for Prop. 53, Weintraub says:

The 30-second ad includes a 3-second segment picturing Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and noting that he is among those who endorsed the measure, after chairing a state infrastructure commission. Bizarre. The ad appears to be a genuine effort to help the initiative, which polls say is dead in the water, rather than just a sneaky maneuver to help Cruz’s run for governor. Besides, if the intent was to help Cruz, the Indians needn’t be stealth about it, since they already have kicked in a couple of mil on his behalf. But why spend that kind of money on a ballot measure that’s so far behind in the polls? Do they know something we don’t about the late turnout in this race, and how it might be influenced on an issue that so far has been lost in the shuffle?

What are you smoking, Dan? Of course this is a veiled attempt to help Cruz!

Let’s review: the proposition is in no danger of passing. The ad has a gratuitous shot of someone who was “among the sponsors” of the proposition — and just happens to be a gubernatorial candidate whom the Indians support. But they can’t openly finance his campaign now, because a judge has ruled their contributions illegal. So why would they run the commercials??

Nope, I can’t figure it out either.

What is “bizarre” is that Weintraub sets forth virtually all of the reasoning underlying the obvious conclusion that this is an illegal ad meant to benefit Cruz — and then credulously and inexplicably asserts that the ad is a “genuine effort to help the initiative” rather than a “sneaky maneuver.”

Now that’s something I really can’t figure out.

EXCLUSIVE: L.A. TIMES STAFFER CRITICIZES ONE-SIDED NATURE OF COLUMNISTS’ VIEWS

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 6:42 am

Roy Rivenburg, who writes the “Recall Madness” column for the Los Angeles Dog Trainer (known by some as the Los Angeles Times), passed along this observation in an e-mail to me:

I wish my paper had a pro-recall columnist or two to balance out the predictable Lopez/King/Morrison/Skelton blather. This is a point that laobserved.com made more cogently, but I absolutely agree with him. I think the best coverage of the recall has come from Dan Weintraub’s blog at sacbee.com. . . . I wish he were helping to direct our coverage.

(Emphasis mine.) One wonders how many other good people working for this paper feel similarly, but don’t have Rivenburg’s courage to say so publicly. (I asked Rivenburg if I could quote him, and he said yes.)

The L.A. Observed comment to which Rivenburg refers is this comment from September 9:

The L.A. Times’ columnist lineup on the recall, meanwhile, looks more like a glaring mistake every day. They each got the gig because of their style or expertise and not their views, but the more they write the clearer it is they inhabit a fairly narrow range of the political spectrum. King, Lopez, Morrison, Skelton and Hiltzik are all recall disbelievers with only nuances of difference in the details. It already feels way old. Wouldn’t one or two of those voices suffice, especially if complemented with a newly vigorous exchange of ideas on the op-ed page? Unfortunately that’s not happening either, yet.

(Emphasis mine.)

The unilateral opposition of Dog Trainer columnists to the recall contributes to the impression held by many: that the paper is a partisan organ that is simply shilling for Davis. Even for those who don’t reach that cynical conclusion, it’s still fair to ask: where’s the balance?

P.S. It’s only fair to note that Rivenburg (whose “Recall Madness” column runs here) has hinted at this criticism in his columns before. In his September 9 column, quoted in L.A. Observed, he noted the following summary of major themes propounded by the Dog Trainer political columnists:

Attack Schwarzenegger for not taking a position on the issues or, when he does take a position, attack that.

Tweak the Terminator for agreeing to just one candidate debate while conveniently not mentioning that Davis did the same thing when running against Bill Simon last November.

Criticize Schwarzenegger for having no political experience. Or, for a change of pace, criticize him for being just like every other politician.

If any reader of this newspaper spots an opinion column that breaks the pattern (i.e., the writer praises Schwarzenegger), be the first to e-mail us and you can choose a gift from our box of prizes.

Not bad. This paper needs more folks like Rivenburg.

GREAT MINDS THINK (SOMEWHAT) ALIKE:

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 am

GREAT MINDS THINK (SOMEWHAT) ALIKE: Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA and First Amendment expert, has this analysis of the Do Not Call list decision. I am pleased to say that it agrees (at least in part) with my own analysis from the other day.

Volokh agrees that the key to the decision is the case of City of Cincinnati v. Discovery Network (1993). He agrees that, unlike Cincinnati’s ban on newsracks, banning telemarketing phone calls takes care of a substantial fraction of the problem. He notes that this point, which the Discovery Network court repeatedly emphasized, doesn’t completely square with the rest of the Discovery Network opinion (which I take as an implicit acknowledgement that it’s a badly written opinion). I made all of these points in my own analysis.

If you are interested in this issue, read his post; it’s short, clear, and interesting.

Meanwhile, the ever-unreliable Dahlia Lithwick gets it partially right (Discovery Network doesn’t govern because of the factual distinctions) and partially really wrong (the case has something to do with the constitutional right to privacy — SORRY! WRONG! Thanks for playing!)

THE WAR IS OVER, WE

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:04 am

THE WAR IS OVER, WE LOST: The Bush Administration has refused to take a position on illegal aliens’ obtaining U.S. driver’s licenses. Outrageous — but it just proves that the country as a whole has already lost the illegal immigration battle. We’re just starting to learn it now.

BREAKING NEWS: The chairwoman of

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:07 am

BREAKING NEWS: The chairwoman of Paramount Pictures has gone on record as saying that her company’s movie sets are not breeding grounds for sexual harassment. This is according to a Dog Trainer story with the Fair and Balanced™ headline: Film Sets Loose, but Barbarian Behavior Rare, Insiders Say. According to this groundbreaking piece of journalism:

“Grabbing someone’s boobs or pinching their ass is absolutely not the way people behave on a movie set,” said Sherry Lansing, chairwoman of Paramount Pictures. “Women work alongside men and are treated with the utmost respect. Moviemaking is a very gender-blind business. No one tolerates that kind of behavior. And I’m not just saying that so I won’t get sued.”

Okay, so I made up the last sentence of that quote. I think the point is clear: this is what the Dog Trainer considers news?? It’s now clear that the only reason the editors didn’t wait to publish this on Sunday is because they wanted several days of follow-up stories on the Arnold stinkbomb.

Meanwhile, the Jill Stewart piece on Gray Davis’s abuse of women, which I have been talking about all day, is still not news at the Dog Trainer. Mickey Kaus has issued the challenge:

I would think the Times now has a heavy obligation to check out Stewart’s reports using the same sourcing standards it applied to Schwarzenegger. Plenty of time left!

Amen, brother. But, don’t hold your breath.


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