Martinez Blasts L.A. Times Newsroom’s “Agenda” and “Ostensibly Objective News Reporters and Editors”
In an eye-opening online resignation from his position as editor of the editorial page of the Los Angeles Times, Andres Martinez today lashed out at news reporters and editors for having an “agenda”:
Among the biggest possible conflicts of interest a newspaper can enter into is to have the same people involved in news coverage running opinion pages. I am proud of the fact that Jeff Johnson, Dean Baquet and I fully separated the opinion pages from the newsroom at the Times. I accept my share of the responsibility for placing the Times in this predicament, but I will not be lectured on ethics by some ostensibly objective news reporters and editors who lobby for editorials to be written on certain subjects, or who have suggested that our editorial page coordinate more closely with the newsroom’s agenda, and I strongly urge the present and future leadership of the paper to resist the cries to revisit the separation between news and opinion that we have achieved.
Nobody who reads this blog is surprised to learn that the L.A. Times newsroom has an “agenda,” or that The Times‘s “ostensibly objective news reporters and editors” . . . aren’t.
What is important about that statement is that it is made by someone who, until today, held a top editorial position at the L.A. Times.
In other words, he was in a position to know.
Mr. Martinez, if you would like to elaborate on this statement, I’m here for ya, babe. My e-mail address is patterico AT gmail DOT com. If you’re looking to name names and tell stories, you’ve found the right place!
P.S. The newsroom’s “agenda” creates a much greater appearance of impropriety than Martinez’s giving a guest editor spot to a client of his girlfriend’s P.R. firm. Does it really come as a shock that some people get published on the op-ed page because they know the editor?
Rather than wringing his hands over a nonstory like that, publisher Hiller ought to address his attention to appearances of impropriety that really matter. For example:
It creates an appearance of impropriety when one of the fired U.S. Attorneys directly contradicts the major premise of an L.A. Times article published about him — and five days later, there is still no correction.
It creates an appearance of impropriety when the paper splashes on the front page the fact that rationales for firing the U.S. Attorneys were “detailed after the fact” — and saves for the 27th paragraph the fact that they were detailed before the fact as well.
It creates an appearance of impropriety when the paper tells readers that Carol Lam was targeted after she prosecuted Randy “Duke” Cunningham — and fails to tell readers that she was initially targeted several months before the Cunningham scandal saw the light of day.
These distortions, taken together, form a pattern. Misleading stories like these constitute a real appearance of impropriety on the part of the Los Angeles Times — one far worse than any “appearance of impropriety” caused by today’s non-scandal. Such stories create the overwhelming impression that (to use former editor Martinez’s words) the newsroom’s “ostensibly objective news reporters and editors” have an “agenda” — namely, to keep the U.S. Attorney “scandal” alive for as long as possible.
And the facts, and basic concepts of fundamental fairness, can go to hell.
That, Mr. Hiller, is a real appearance of impropriety. This thing with Andres Martinez? Not so much.
UPDATE x2: It emerges that a cabal of staffers pressured the publisher to kill this Sunday’s Current edition, prompting Martinez’s resignation. Could these be some of the same news staffers who Martinez claims tried to influence the opinion section? Martinez names names here.