This summer the National Enquirer caught former Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards (to Lakoff, an anti-corporate crusader; to Luntz, an ambulance chaser) meeting with his mistress in a Beverly Hills hotel. The Los Angeles Times demonstrated a pronounced lack of enthusiasm for the story in its own back yard, even putting out a notice to its bloggers to avoid mentioning it. Before long, Mickey Kaus and other prominent media critics had jumped all over the paper. As a participant in the fun (I approved the one blog post the L.A. Times had on the matter prior to the gag order; I and the author of the post were both subsequently fired, though the events were unrelated…as far as I know), I can say that while some of the principal players’ roles were misinterpreted, the overall characterization was accurate. The L.A. Times desperately wanted to avoid this damaging story, dressed up its desires in media-diligence drag (we were told not to comment until the paper’s reporters were through looking into the matter), and as a result was beaten and humiliated in its own backyard. Tim Rutten, the sanctimonious endomorph who leads the paper’s columnist lineup, ended up admitting as much in a column written after Edwards had confessed and everybody else had stopped caring. Bias unpacking: 100 percent successful.
Bold emphasis is mine; other emphasis belongs to Cavanaugh.
Henceforth, should I ever refer to Tim Rutten as a “sanctimonious endomorph” (and I have the distinct sense that I will), it will be with a link to this post, to explain the provenance of this wonderfully descriptive phrase.