Patterico's Pontifications

5/12/2004

A Pseudo-Journalist on Pseudo-Journalism

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 1:06 am



Here is the full text of L.A. Times editor John Carroll’s recent speech on “pseudo-journalism.” (Previously, only excerpts were available.) Read the whole thing — it’s amazing in its contempt for critics, its self-pity, and its blindness to the paper’s glaring flaws.

Here are the most obvious problems with Carroll’s speech:

As I have previously discussed (in this post), a centerpiece of Carroll’s speech is its pathetic reliance on a transparently flawed and political “study” that purports to show that Fox News uniquely misleads its audience. The “proof”? Fox‘s conservative audience believes in certain “misconceptions” about the Iraq war — “misconceptions” that are more likely to be held by, well, conservatives.

My wife — a staunch Democrat — was able to see though that “study” in a split second. But she’s not blinded by her ideology. Carroll is. And his soft-headedness doesn’t end there — as the full text of his speech reveals.

If you are a critic of the Times, be aware that Carroll has nothing but contempt for you. Your opinion is worthless. How do we know this? Because the paper got some Pulitzers recently!

Boy, have these Pulitzers gone to this guy’s head. Here’s Carroll beating his chest:

I wonder how the news of the awards struck the talk-show fans who know the Los Angeles Times only for its ethical outrages.

Surely they must have been scratching their heads over that one.

But they probably they didn’t worry about it long. My guess is that they sat back on their sofas and consoled themselves with more soothing thoughts, such as the way President Bush saved America from catastrophe by seizing those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq while the whole world cheered.

Take a second and soak in the bitter and disdainful tone of that statement. In Carroll’s eyes, if you are critical of his paper, then you are a dupe. You are a mindless talk-radio devotee who laps up the falsehoods broadcast by Fox News. There’s not a chance that any of your criticisms might be on the mark.

In fact, if you believe that the editors choose what to run based on ideological preferences, Carroll lumps you in the same category as loonies who believe in UFOs:

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t get a report of a UFO visit, or a complaint from someone whose head has been rewired by the CIA, or a tortured theory as to why the newspaper did or didn’t publish something.

Now that some journalists have given Carroll’s paper a few awards, any critic of the paper might as well wear a tin-foil hat, as far as Carroll is concerned.

But, for all his arrogance about the Pulitzers, Carroll is apparently still feeling sorry for himself over losing over 10,000 subscribers due to his paper’s biased treatment of the Arnold groping scandal.

According to Carroll, after the Arnold story broke, Bill O’Reilly (who is, I agree, an intellectually dishonest blowhard) accused the L.A. Times of having ignored the Clinton Troopergate scandal. (According to Carroll, this is a patently false accusation. Carroll says the Times was a leader on that story, and I have no reason to doubt him.) Carroll also complains that Jill Stewart (whom he doesn’t name) accused him of sitting on the Arnold story for two weeks. Despite Carroll’s insistence that these claims were all untrue, they found a foothold in the public consciousness, and he finds that deeply unfair:

It has now been six months since Fox and the other talk shows told their audiences that the Los Angeles Times did not cover the Troopergate scandal. It has been six months since they accused the newspaper of a journalistic felony by timing its story about Arnold Schwarzenegger. These are simple factual matters, easily provable. Nevertheless I’m getting the feeling that the corrections are not forthcoming.

As editor of the Los Angeles Times, I’m not happy about it, but at least I know the truth. The deeper offense is against those who don’t — the listeners who credit the “facts” they hear on Fox and the talk shows.

We’ll assume for the moment that Carroll is right about the supposedly unfair treatment he received from O’Reilly and Stewart. (It sounds like O’Reilly’s claim was totally off-base. However, I strongly disagree that the timing of the Arnold groping allegations was beyond Carroll’s control. I addressed his pathetic defense of the timing of that story in this post. But we’re going to pretend for a moment that Carroll is right about all of this — just for the sake of argument.)

Let me get this straight. A media outlet misrepresents the facts. It is explicitly put on notice of its misrepresentations. Yet it stubbornly refuses to correct the record. Where have I heard such a tale before?

Oh, right — that’s the standard M.O. of the Times itself!

How many times has this blog pointed out things in the Los Angeles Times that were misleading? that distorted the facts? that were flat-out untrue? How many times have I told you that I reported such factual inaccuracies to the paper? (Even when I haven’t, I suspect that the paper sometimes hears of my complaints. This blog often gets multiple visits from the Times in a single day.) And how many times has the paper issued a correction based on my complaints? (To be fair, the Times once ran a front-page story based on a complaint of mine — but they have resisted many other valid corrections I have submitted.)

You know, as I read Carroll’s description of his unfair treatment at the hands of O’Reilly and Stewart, I recognized his tone of stunned disbelief. It is the tone I have heard many people use when describing the unfair coverage they received from the L.A. Times. Indeed, it is the same tone Antonin Scalia used when he described numerous factual inaccuracies in several L.A. Times stories written about him — many of which remain uncorrected to this day.

And how did the L.A. Times respond to Justice Scalia’s complaints?

Why, they ran new stories with new falsehoods about the Justice.

Mr. Carroll, I might be inclined to empathize with your plight — if your own paper had not stubbornly refused to correct the record so many times before. As it stands, I don’t feel sorry for you. There are just too many people to whom your paper owes an apology and a correction. You owe more than one apology to Justice Scalia. You owe a correction and an apology to the officers who were sued by Oliverio Martinez. You still haven’t run a correction regarding Bill Arkin’s misquotation of Gen. Boykin.

And so on, and so on, and so on . . .

Until these sorts of apologies and corrections occur, you’ll forgive me if I don’t get too upset over the allegedly unfair treatment of the L.A. Times that you describe in your speech. My basic feeling is this: I guess now you know what it feels like when the media lies about you — and when people believe those lies.

I suggest that you do something constructive with your outrage. Realize that the wrongs you complain of in your speech are wrongs that your paper regularly inflicts on others. Make amends. Treat others as you would have others treat you.

But hey, why listen to me? I’m probably just a crazy, talk-radio listening, right-wing nut. Right? In between typing the paragraphs of this post, I probably ran outside to take pictures of the space aliens who just landed in my backyard. Right, Mr. Carroll?

I’m sure it makes you feel better to believe that. So don’t listen to me. I’m sure you know what’s best. You always do.

Thanks to L.A. Observed for the link to Carroll’s speech.

4 Responses to “A Pseudo-Journalist on Pseudo-Journalism”

  1. Let’s be real about this. The Iraq invasion had NOTHING to do with the war on terrorism. Truth is we created this whole ordeal and we are kept out of the information flow. It is a shame what happened to Mr. Berg and is a gross example of how Bush has betrayed America and the world. If Bush had not invaded Iraq and had focused on setting up a good and productive Afghanistan that would have really hurt the Al Qadae works. No bush instead quit on the Afghanistan and went into Iraq when it was not really neccessary. Now people killed in action in uniform. Now let’s face facts, this total does not include those who later died of wounds or civilian deaths. We also have to remember the history, that NO LINK TO OSAMA WAS MADE!!!! Also note that in the Kuwait invasion Bush Sr. mislead Saddam who at the time was our “friend”. Saddam has only one strike against him as the USA goes and that was an attempt to kill GWH Bush, which Clinton hit him and he was never involved against the USA in any covert act after that as far as it can be said.

    Remember to that GHW Bush urged an uprising against Saddam and would have USA help, but when the uprising happened we did nothing and they were slaughtered. We sold out the Kurds and even now actions are not in the best interest of the Kurds who have really been close to us in our wrongful attack on Iraq. So guess what folks we made this bed and we are only digging the hole deeper.

    Look at the companies involved in Iraq, Halliburton, Titan, KiKi and all the others. Why they are making a profit that is really treason and the taxpayer is picking up the bill. Our troops are getting rationed by the companies on their food, their equipment, their training is often substandard and then Bush has even tried to cut them out of hazardous duty pay and family separation allowances. Meanwhile the companies are getting everything and getting payed 6 figure salaries with immunity of prosecution based on Executive Order 13303 which declares Iraq a lawless country and let’s any civilian law breaking get excused. Meanwhile our troops are getting far less pay and equipment while being held to UCMJ standards. When the abuse came up guess what our troops get court martialled and the contractors go scott free.
    Oh check out titan, they are in several lawsuits for bribery and extortion. Hey folks we are getting taken for a ride by this sorry and treasonous admin. yet so many will vote for this criminal admin.

    Herb Phelps (cb6395)

  2. Only if you define “terrorism” as simply Al-Qaida does Iraq have nothing to do with the “War on Terror.”

    The Angry Clam (c96486)

  3. It’s worse than you thought.

    According to Carroll, the Dog Trainer was “the leader on that subject[troopergate].  Not a leader, but the leader.”  (Carroll’s italics).  Well, I thought I remembered differently, so I went looking.

    In his book Blood Sport, James Stewart relates that the Dog Trainer editors sat on the “troopergate” story for a long time.  The managing editor wanted polygraphs of the troopers before the story ran.  The Washington DC bureau chief was said to be so close to the Clinton White House that his reporters kept him from knowing what they were working on as long as possible.  Another editor had more objections.

    And then it became known that The American Spectator was going to break the story.  The Dog Trainer refused to run what the reporters had, saying “We’ll go when we’re ready.  We will not be rushed by the Spectator.”

    They were ready after the Spectator broke the story.  This, according to the reporters, was deliberate:

    “They could see the White House strategy all too clearly: stall if the story couldn’t be killed, make sure the Times was scooped by the right-wing, easily discredited Spectator.”  Which was exactly what happened.

    And as Attaboy notes at http://attaboy.tommydoc.net/archives/000710.html, O’Reilly is a commentator.  He runs an opinion show.  He doesn’t claim to be unbiased news reporting on all important sides of an issue.  Carroll’s paper does.

    What a b.s. artist!

    Stephen M. St. Onge (09a9da)


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