Patterico's Pontifications

5/9/2004

The Pseudo-Journalism of the Los Angeles Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:14 am

Los Angeles Times Editor John Carroll has made the following startling statement:

All over the country there are offices that look like newsrooms and there are people in those offices that look for all the world just like journalists, but they are not practicing journalism. They regard the audience with a cold cynicism. They are practicing something I call a pseudo-journalism, and they view their audience as something to be manipulated.

This is as accurate a description of the L.A. Times as I have heard in quite a while. A glance at my Dog Trainer category tells you why I feel this way.

Yet Carroll is not talking about his own paper. He is talking about Fox News:

Carroll cited a study released last year that showed Americans had three main
misconceptions about Iraq: That weapons of mass destruction had been found, a connection between al-Qaeda and Iraq had been demonstrated and that the world approved of U.S intervention in Iraq. He said 80 percent of people who primarily got their news from Fox believed at least one of the misconceptions. He said the figure was more than 57 percentage points higher than people who get their news from public news broadcasting.

“How in the world could Fox have left its listeners so deeply in the dark?” Carroll asked.

Let’s put aside any questions about whether WMD have been found (or were shipped to Syria), or whether there was a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda, or what it means to say “the world” approves of intervention in Iraq. For purposes of our discussion, we’ll assume that Carroll is right, and that it is a “misconception” to believe these points. We’ll assume that a study shows that these “misconceptions” are more widely held by Fox News viewers than public television viewers.

So what? That proves exactly nothing.

The “study” cited by Carroll, like many such “studies” perpetrated by leftist social scientists, is transparently worthless and politically motivated. The “study” ignores the basic principle that correlation does not equal causation. This is because the “study” focuses on misconceptions that are more likely to be held by people on the right. Naturally, such misconceptions are more often held by people who watch Fox News — because people on the right are more likely to watch Fox News.

Does Carroll think that people on the right are the only people who have misconceptions? I could just as easily point to several “misconceptions” that I expect are more widely held by people on the left. For example: Dick Cheney explicitly said that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. George W. Bush has been proved to have been AWOL. George W. Bush said in a State of the Union speech that Iraq posed an “imminent threat.” George W. Bush made a reference to uranium coming from Niger in his State of the Union speech.

Let’s do a study to see whether these misconceptions — which are widely held by those on the left — are more widely held by Fox News viewers or by public television viewers. What do you think that study would show?

Better yet, I would like to see a study about who holds certain misconceptions that have been advocated by the Los Angeles Times — and debunked on this blog. For example: Anyone convicted of three shoplifting offenses in California is eligible for a 25-to-life sentence. Justice Scalia was huddled in a duck blind with Vice President Cheney. Justice Scalia ordered a federal marshal to seize and destroy recordings of a speech he gave. LAPD’s new pursuit policy would have prevented several pursuit-related tragedies that occurred in 2002. And so on . . .

Let’s do a study to see whether these misconceptions are more widely held by Patterico readers or by Los Angeles Times readers.

And when that study shows that the Los Angeles Times is guilty of systematically misleading its readers on a wide range of topics, I will accuse the Los Angeles Times of “pseudo-journalism” — and I will ask: How in the world could the Los Angeles Times have left its readers so deeply in the dark?

This is a very simple point. But Carroll fails to see it, and falls for the study’s conclusions — because they reinforce Carroll’s previously held opinions regarding Fox News and Fox News viewers. Not that Times editors would ever trumpet the results of a flawed study by a liberal organization. . .

Thanks to L.A. Observed, where I first saw this, and to readers Jim D. and Frank G. for pushing me to write about it.

UPDATE: Xrlq has more. So does Calblog.

Also, there is more information available about the study upon which Carroll bases his comments. A commenter to Xrlq’s post (as cross-posted at Oh, That Liberal Media) points out that the organization that performed the “study” is the Program on International Policy Attitudes. Their sponsors include Rockefeller Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation (an organization with ties to John Kerry’s wife), Ford Foundation, German Marshall Fund of the United States, Compton Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Benton Foundation, Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, Americans Talk Issues Foundation, and Circle Foundation.

Investigate these, and you’ll see that they are largely leftist organizations. If he can’t see the obvious flaws in the “study,” shouldn’t the editor of a major metropolitan newspaper at least take into account who did the study?

Los Angeles Times: We Still Get Only Anti-Bush and Anti-War Letters

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 8:19 am

As I noted in this post, the Los Angeles Times printed eighteen letters about President Bush and/or the war yesterday. Fourteen were critical of Bush and/or the war; none explicitly supported either.

Today is not much better. Today the Times prints twelve letters regarding the war and the Bush Administration. Ten of the twelve letters are openly critical of the war and/or Bush’s handling of the war. One is essentially neutral. (Miraculously, the editors managed to find someone who is supportive of Bush. It’s only one person, but that’s better than yesterday.)

Added to the eighteen letters yesterday, that makes a total of thirty letters printed by the Times this weekend about Bush or the war. Fully twenty-four of those thirty letters are critical of Bush and/or the war. Only one of those thirty letters explicitly supports Bush and/or the war.

Here are some excerpts from today’s letters:
(more…)


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