Over at The Jury Talks Back, Kevin Murphy does the job I’m supposed to be doing: skewering the L.A. Times. As Kevin notes, the paper tells us that the economic crisis is caused by fear . . . and then posts a deceptive headline designed to scare people: “Job losses at highest level since 1945.” Problem is, “it isn’t until well past the jump that we are told that this is in absolute numbers in a country with double the population that it had in 1945.”
The only thing we have to fear is the L.A. Times‘s distortions themselves.
The only weakness in Kevin’s analysis is his seeming failure to comprehend the editors’ motive in distorting the figures. Kevin tells editors: “Obama won. You can stop now.” But Kevin, there is method to the editors’ madness. We have only one president at a time, remember — and that president is still George W. Bush. It’s important to dramatize the extent of the economic failures that occurred during his presidency, so that Obama’s task looks as daunting as possible. (It’s daunting enough even with accurate facts, to be sure . . . but Big Media editors figure every nudge helps.) Plus, there’s the ever-present need in Big Media to add drama to any story, and to downplay any facts that detract from the most sensational possible interpretation.
P.S. In the first comment at Kevin’s post, Steven Den Beste weighs in with this comment: “Job losses at the LA Times are certainly at a record level. If they’re going to be miserable, why shouldn’t the rest of us?”
Speaking of which, the (completely unconfirmed) rumor going around the L.A. Times newsroom is that there are another 100 layoffs on the horizon.