Patterico's Pontifications

5/2/2006

Sure, Hiltzik Has Been Dishonest — But He’s Far from the Only One!

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 9:14 pm

Chris Reed, an editorial writer for the San Diego Union-Tribune, says on his blog that he is happy to see Michael Hiltzik’s column being dropped:

I welcomed the news that L.A. Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik had lost his column for making anonymous posts on LAT’s online site and other Web sites defending his writings and impugning his critics — and not just on ethical grounds. In his columns about California’s various crises in recent years, he has been the most actively mendacious pundit in the whole state. Here’s a sample of what I mean from a 2005 column trashing Gov. Schwarzenegger:

“A spending cut is, essentially, a tax increase by another name – it simply shifts money from one group to another.”

That’s deranged enough. But here’s the context: This came from a column in which Hiltzik was flatly calling the governor’s proposed education budget, with a 7 percent hike from the previous year, a spending cut — and labelling it thus the equivalent of a punitive tax increase. If you cut a bureaucracy’s projected, wished-for increase in spending, you see, it’s not just a spending cut, it is akin to a tax hike. Feel free to tear out your hair. If a pundit doesn’t like Arnold or his priorities, that’s one thing. But what Hiltzik did in this case and others is essentially to ignore reality and mock those who say it matters. It’s almost like deconstructionism applied to math. A cut is what I say it is, nothing more and nothing less.

I wrote a column at the time calling this reasoning “intellectually slovenly.” But it’s worse than that. It is calculated mendacity.

This is why I was unsurprised that Hiltzik was caught in an ethical lapse. (Another one.) Honesty is not one of his priorities.

(Hyperlinks available at Reed’s post.)

Reed is spot-on with his complaint about Hiltzik’s dishonest characterization of education spending increases as “cuts.” But Hiltzik is far from the only guy who has misrepresented Arnold’s education spending increases as cuts, or spending decreases. The paper does it every year around budget time. As I recently documented in my 2005 year-end review of the paper:

For the second year in a row, the L.A. Times portrayed an increase of over a billion dollars in education spending as a decrease in spending. Last year, the paper reported that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was expected to propose “cuts” of at least $2 billion in education spending, when the governor was actually proposing an increase of between $1.5 and $2 billion in education spending. One year later to the day, the paper pulled the exact same trick, calling a $2.9 billion increase (7%) in the education budget a $2.2 billion cut. Days later, a second story warned of a “$2-billion cut” in Schwarzenegger’s proposed education budget. A third story said the proposed budget “scales back payments to schools.” Not surprisingly, readers were fooled.

None of the linked pieces was by Michael Hiltzik.

So if Chris Reed is upset at Michael Hiltzik for misrepresenting spending increases as “cuts” — well, he has every right to be. But he also needs to be upset at the numerous authors and editors who were involved in putting together the articles I link in the above passage.

And this is hardly the only issue as to which The Times has been intellectually dishonest with a story. One of my favorite examples from my Year in Review post is the one in which the paper totally botched the analysis of the costs of the death penalty, in a way that a fifth-grader could understand. Then, when readers pointed out the glaring errors, they pretended not to understand the flaws, or, in my case, simply ignored me. (They still owe readers a correction of that terrible article, and I am never going to stop talking about it until I get one.)

This is the kind of thing I was talking about recently when I said (here and here) that Michael Hiltzik’s sock-puppetry was far less dangerous than the kind of intellectual dishonesty that passes for journalism on a daily basis at the Los Angeles Times. Dean Baquet said that Michael Hiltzik couldn’t credibly complain about duplicity by others — and he may be right. But Hiltzik is far from the only person at the paper with that problem.

Was an Innocent Man Executed in Texas?

Filed under: Crime,General — Patterico @ 8:33 pm

I take anything in the L.A. Times with a grain of salt, and if Henry Weinstein is writing it, I take it with a few stiff shakes of the salt shaker. Still, I am disturbed by the possibility that there might be something to this story about a potentially innocent man in Texas, who was executed for starting a fire that arson experts now say could have been started accidentally.

Lefties: Who Is More Evil? Bush or Bin Laden?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:05 am

I asked lefty commenters recently: who is a bigger threat to the country, and a bigger enemy? Bush? or Bin Laden? The responses of lefty commenters are rounded up here.

I failed to ask a different question: who is more evil?

I didn’t ask that because it’s a silly question. The answer is a gimme — even for the radical left. Isn’t it?

I dunno. Is it? Look at this picture from a Michelle Malkin post about anti-war demonstrations:

That guy thinks he’s making a good point . . .

So let me throw the question open, concentrating on the lefties who couldn’t quite bring themselves to say Bin Laden is a worse threat than Bush.

I’m looking at you, actus. And at you, Asinistra. I’ll even allow lying m.croche to comment. I really want to hear his answer to this — mostly because I know he doesn’t want to give it.

If you couldn’t answer the question of who is a bigger threat. can you at least answer this? And can you say it without qualifications and “but”s?

Who is more evil — Bush or Bin Laden?


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