Patterico's Pontifications

3/22/2007

This Sunday’s “Current” Section to Be Scrapped?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:35 am



Kevin Roderick reported yesterday:

Sunday’s Current section in the Los Angeles Times will carry an editor’s note disclosing some details of a romantic relationship between Andrés Martinez, the paper’s Editor of the Editorial Pages, and Kelly Mullens, a Hollywood public relations executive. There will also be a story in tomorrow’s Business section, at least according to the internal story budget. Why? Because Mullens’ Hollywood PR firm represents Brian Grazer, the producer who was brought in as guest editor of this weekend’s Current section.

Today the paper runs that story, which reveals that the paper may be taking action more drastic than an Editor’s Note:

The Los Angeles Times might scrap Sunday’s Current section to avoid the appearance that a romantic relationship between the paper’s editorial page editor and a publicist for Hollywood producer Brian Grazer might have led to Grazer’s selection as a guest editor.

“I believe, based on everything that I have seen, that we have only the appearance of a conflict here,” Hiller said. “I believe that the selection of Grazer was not based on this relationship. We have an appearance and not a case of actual undue influence.

“We want to do the right thing for our readers and for the paper,” Hiller added.

Many reporters and editors in The Times’ newsroom said they were unhappy about how readers might perceive the decision to let an outsider — with the appearance of a special inside connection — hold sway over the Sunday opinion and editorial pages.

(H/t Roderick.)

One thing might complicate the decision to make it all go away by just scrapping this Sunday Opinion section. Roderick says:

The buzz also includes accusations that other clients of Mullens and Allan Mayer [a partner at Mullens’s firm] have turned up on the Times opinion pages, a claim that reportedly is being checked by higher-ups.

I think we need to see all the e-mails concerning who was selected to publish on the opinion pages, and why — and have hearings with testimony, under oath, including transcripts, from all the players involved.

Yes, I’m joking. I assume there is nothing to this. But it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

UPDATE: The section was scrapped, and Martinez has resigned. His statement is extraordinary. I will post further on this as soon as I get the chance.

L.A. Times Overlooks Serious Distortions; Corrects Only Trivial and Meaningless Errors

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:00 am



In recent days I have written the L.A. Times to request two corrections:

  • I noted that Bud Cummins, one of the fired U.S. Attorneys, has directly contradicted the major premise of an L.A. Times article published about him.

Four days after I noted the issue on this blog, and three days after I wrote the Readers’ Representative about it (on March 18), I have received no substantive response, and there has been no correction.

  • I noted that the paper strongly implied that Carol Lam was targeted after she prosecuted Randy “Duke” Cunningham — although the facts show that she was targeted for firing several months before the Cunningham scandal saw the light of day.

As to that error, I was told it won’t be corrected.

  • Also, in one of the e-mails I sent about one of the substantive errors mentioned above, I mentioned (completely in passing) that the paper had misquoted one of the documents in question (the infamous “real problem” May 11 e-mail from Kyle Sampson). In my e-mail I said:

    I’ll not comment in detail on the numerous mistakes The Times made in the simple act of quoting this e-mail accurately. Those are evidence of sloppiness, but they are not misleading. What is misleading, however, is your paper’s failure to report the fact that Sampson was responding to an inquiry made by Kelley the day before Sampson’s e-mail was sent.

Again, I mentioned this third error only in passing. I didn’t complain in detail. Nor did I bother to request a correction. The misquotation wasn’t really material. It just reinforced my view of this series of stories as sloppy.

So: of the above errors I pointed out, two substantive, and one technical and minor — which do you think got corrected? The substantive ones? Or the minor, technical one?

Why, the technical and minor one, of course:

U.S. attorney firings: An article in Thursday’s Section A on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys quoted an e-mail from D. Kyle Sampson, Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales’ then-chief of staff, to White House Deputy Counsel William Kelley as saying: “The real problem we have right now is Carol Lam. That leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.” The quote should have read: “The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam … leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her four-year term expires.” Lam had been U.S. attorney in San Diego.

You gotta love it.

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