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.