Patterico's Pontifications

2/11/2008

How My Post Immediately Above Meets the Exacting Standards of the L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:07 am

This post explains how the assertions made in this post meet the exacting standards of the L.A. Times.

The first quote from my post that requires explanation is this:

“To my knowledge, Tim Rutten is the only columnist who has never once been corrected in the newspaper . . .”

Of course, I have no idea whether this is actually true. But it feels like it should be — and that’s good enough. Steve Lopez once famously said: “Guess what, Chief. My investigation is complete.” Three and a half years later, it emerged that Lopez’s “investigation” didn’t even encompass talking to both sides — and he finally admitted that his decision to jump to conclusions led him to get central facts wrong.*

By the Steve Lopez standard, I am allowed to make assertions about whether Tim Rutten has been corrected, without actually checking it out. Guess what, Tim? My investigation is complete.

Rutten actually admitted in one recent column that he has deliberately placed falsehoods about the Bush Administration in his columns, and is proud of it: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.”

Rutten, of course, made no such admission. But my assertion is consistent with the standards set by the L.A. Times in Rutten’s latest column, in which he wrote:

[Cheney] told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again: “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.”

As I proved in this post, Cheney never told the audience that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again. In fact, he said the opposite: “We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values.”

Rutten apparently thinks that, because Rutten thinks Cheney supports torture, it’s okay to write that Cheney said he supports torture. Great. I think that Rutten “supports deliberately planting falsehoods, so I get to say that Rutten actually told people that he does it.

By the way, there is no indication that the phrase “Would I support those same decisions again today? You’re damn right I would.” has anything to do with torture. It is simply a line from Cheney’s speech that Rutten ripped out of context. Those words also appear in Rutten’s column (albeit as a quote from Cheney). If Rutten gets to pull quotes out of context from Cheney’s speech, then I get to pull quotes out of context from Rutten’s column.

It’s all about the standards, you see. Moving on . . .

This is a paper that routinely admits that it concocts stories.

The paper routinely admits that it has made errors. By the standards of the Los Angeles Times, this is the same as admitting that they concoct stories.

Perhaps the most startling fact about the paper is that the Los Angeles Times has no section in the paper for corrections. Every other paper is willing to admit that it makes errors from time to time. But if you look at the paper’s web site, it is interesting to note that it provides links to stories and columns — but not to the purported corrections page.

Of course, the paper does have a corrections page, and does have a link to it. But, according to the standards of the L.A. Times, it is okay to claim that something doesn’t exist when, in reality, it does. For example, Tim Rutten once wrote in a column about Scott Thomas Beauchamp:

It was interesting to note that Drudge provided links to the transcripts and report but not to the purported “Memorandum for Record.”

But that was false. I took the following screenshot from a set of documents taken from what Drudge posted:

memorandum-for-record-2007-dtyir.JPG

If Rutten gets to claim that it is interesting to note that a document doesn’t exist, when it actually does . . . then I get to claim that it is interesting to note that there is no L.A. Times corrections page — even though there really is.

[I]n his latest column, Rutten erroneously claims that, at the beginning of Bush’s presidency, Cheney and his allies “arrived packing heavy artillery” and executed a “coup d’etat.”

Here, I am using the L.A. Times-approved technique of taking a metaphor and pretending that it is an erroneous statement. Rutten does say in his column that, at the outset of Bush’s presidency, “Cheney, his staff and his allies arrived packing heavy artillery in the form of the unitary executive theory.” The “packing heavy artillery” bit was a metaphor. You know, kind of like when Bush, speaking about Iraq, said: “Mandela is dead, because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.” That was a metaphor too — but the paper felt justified in calling it an “erroneous[]” statement.

If they can take Bush’s metaphors and call them mistakes, why, I can do it to Tim Rutten.

The same defense applies to this passage:

Perhaps even more outrageous is Rutten’s claim that Bush and his chief of staff are literally seeking to kidnap and physically torture John McCain to ensure compliance with their policies, claiming that Bush & Co. “think they can do what [McCain's] North Vietnamese torturers failed to do.”

Well, Rutten did say this:

It’s hard to read this week’s events as anything other than an attempt to put McCain on notice that he’d better acknowledge the unitary executive theory if he wants help with the conservative base. If Cheney, Addington and Bush now think they can do what the North Vietnamese torturers failed to do and cow John McCain into supporting their failing attempt to roll back history to the Nixon administration, they’ve missed the measure of the man.

Again, taking a metaphor literally is fair game. Especially since, unlike their quiz, my post actually is a “parody.”

I can see why they apply these standards. It’s way, way more fun than being responsible and truthful.

*As a side note, I’m not sure Lopez would have known how to do this investigation, even if he had decided to try. Lopez is, after all, the guy who set out to find gang members in Los Angeles — but couldn’t find any.

6 Responses to “How My Post Immediately Above Meets the Exacting Standards of the L.A. Times”

  1. Very good. In fact your parody is probably more accurate than some of the stories appearing in the LA Times even though you were attempting to be inaccurate in order to demonstrate a point.

    In the end there are bloggers who pay little attention to facts just as there are reporters who do the same. For me the difference is that I quickly weed out those inaccurate bloggers, but newspapers are like a community of bloggers in which some do good work and others do not. Yes, I could simply ignore stuff written by the inaccurate reporters or columnists, but when I buy a paper the proceeds go to support all of them and I don’t wish to support those who continually distort and lie.

    Fritz (0c4db1)

  2. On a similar topic (media distortion) you might want to take a look at Paul Krugman’s latest NY Times piece, Hate Springs Eternal

    chad (582404)

  3. This is rich. It’s like the flip side to the Daily Show, where most people get their news. Patterico’s fine work highlights a scary parallel. The LAT is parody without the warning label.

    Of course, I have no idea whether this is actually true. But it feels like it should be — and that’s good enough.

    Vermont Neighbor (c6313b)

  4. Paul Krugman decries the politics of hate — complaining that “anything he said, and some things he didn’t say … was held up as proof of his alleged character flaws.”

    Coming from someone like Krugman, that’s rich.

    aunursa (1b5bad)

  5. That’s what you get for reading that fishwrapper, man. Aggravation.

    mojo (8096f2)

  6. Your “parody” and this analysis post were brilliant and thought-provoking. Great job. Too bad it will probably sail above the heads of most of the staff of the Times.

    Best wishes,
    Laura

    Laura (56a0a8)


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