(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)
I have not written a “The Power of the Jump”™ piece since 2010, but it’s time to resurrect it. The main page of the Los Angeles Times recently featured the following story:
“was shot when officers” . . . dot dot dot. Gee, what comes after that phrase? Here it is, complete with extra space and missing period — and relevant facts:
A man who was fatally shot by a Moreno Valley police officer while lying on the ground handcuffed has been identified as an 18-year-old Ontario resident
Authorities on Saturday said Lamon Khiry Haslip, 18, of Ontario, was shot when officers . . .
Here’s where the story broke on the front page. If you click, through, you see the rest of the sentence:
. . . noticed that he had a handgun.
At the time, Haslip was lying on the ground and handcuffed, but officers said that he had rolled on his side and one “officer backed away from the subject and announced that the subject had a gun,” according to a press release from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
. . .
When the officer attempted to stop the vehicle, Haslip allegedly attempted to flee on foot. The officer captured Haslip and placed him in handcuffs on the ground, police said.
A second officer arrived just before the shooting. The officers reported finding a gun in Haslip’s possession.
Studies show most people don’t click through from the Internet’s front page (or turn to the back pages from the front page of the increasingly irrelevant print edition).
This is how editors gin up outrage where none (or little) would exist — if they told you the whole story up front.
As a subdued John A. Boehner started to lay the groundwork for compromise with President Obama to avert a year-end tax and spending crisis, the House speaker also began a delicate dance around the deep divisions in the Republican Party.
As Congress returns Tuesday, the Ohio Republican must contend with the tea party wing, which helped the GOP retain the House majority as many conservatives won reelection, but which also contributed to its losses in the Senate.
Republican leaders are reevaluating their relationship with the tea party, a political marriage that has fueled gridlock and, some believe, played a role in the GOP’s dismal outcome at the polls.
Some others believe that Romney was not a strong enough candidate and didn’t articulate a Tea Party message strongly enough. But that message does not appear in the story. “Some” might be right and “some others” might be wrong. But it is not for news editors to decide — any more than it is their place to conclude that voters want a deal that is the opposite of what the Tea Party wants:
“The president and his team have made clear they believe his reelection is a mandate for his tax plan,” Boehner told rank-and-file Republicans on a conference call after the election. “Well, ladies and gentlemen, that is not the case.”
On the call, Boehner characterized his House majority as “the line of defense” against the Obama administration, according to a GOP source who was not authorized to discuss internal party matters publicly.
“For the next two years, that will continue to be our role,” Boehner said.
This is the complicated courtship the chain-smoking speaker must undertake in the next 50 days as he attempts to satisfy his right wing while meeting Obama across the aisle for the deal that voters — and the stock market — have signaled they want.
Why couldn’t we say that the voters signaled that they wanted to hold the line by re-electing a Republican majority in the House?
Again, people can debate these issues, but having them decided as a matter of Conventional Wisdom and articulated on news pages (as opposed to opinion pages) is wrong. We have to fight against that mentality and point it out when we see it.
The latest resurrection of the Khalidi video mythology came this week courtesy of Breitbart.com. The website on Thursday offered a $100,000 reward for a copy of the “Khalidi tape” — which the right-wing site speculates will lay bare the ugly back story of Obama’s disdain of Israel, his “sacrifice” of Free Speech, and his effusive support of Mideast radicals.
. . . .
So why couldn’t the newspaper simply release the video, along with the story? This is where the tempest, which began four years ago, continues to this day.
The misunderstanding stems from one camp’s unwillingness to hear, or acknowledge, some essential truths about the way journalists do their jobs. Wallsten, like every other honest reporter out there battling for information, must build relationships with sources.
Every conversation about a piece of information becomes a transaction. For many sources who share previously confidential information, their threshold for divulging the secret is that their identity be shrouded. That also means keeping confidential any details, regarding the exchange of information, that might tend to divulge the source’s identity.
In the case of the Khalidi video, the unnamed source agreed to share the illuminating bit of video evidence with Wallsten, but only with the understanding that the reporter could not reproduce or rebroadcast the images. The journalist had to make a decision: Do I agree to that condition and get to see evidence that no other reporter has seen of Obama meeting with Palestinian Americans? Or do I insist on a full public release of the video, with the likely outcome that the source would share nothing?
Wallsten pushed for the release of the video but when the source would not agree, Wallsten agreed to accept more limited access to the recording. He agreed not to reveal his source nor share the video with anyone else.
The net result: The world got a story that showed Obama the political operator, sliding between two opposite and highly contentious worlds. The audience did not get to view the video, but it got far more than it had without The Times’ reporting. That’s the nature of some journalistic negotiations; giving up the perfect to obtain the very good.
I’m at a loss as to why editors can’t take simple steps that (as far as we know) are not precluded by the promise to the source. They could:
Prepare and release a transcript.
Go back to the source and ask permission to release the tape now.
View the tape again to see if Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn were present (as has been rumored) — and if they were, publish a story setting forth the details of their interaction, if any, with Senator Obama.
View the tape again to see whether Senator Obama is shown on tape during any of the more controversial statements — and if he was, describe his reaction.
Promises to withhold source material, while they may be necessary for a story, should be disfavored. If they’re given, editors should give them the narrowest possible reasonable interpretation.
Instead, editors seem determined to construe their promises more broadly than even their source contemplated. They haven’t said they promised not to release a transcript, for example. So why haven’t they?
Do me a favor and help me ask James Rainey for a response as to why these things couldn’t be done. He decided to opine, so he can’t really refuse to answer on the grounds that it’s someone else’s story.
These are fair questions. Could you answer them, Mr. Rainey?
Is disgraced former L.A. Times reporter Chuck Philips trying to use specious legal claims and toothless workplace threats to wipe evidence of his biased reporting off of the Internet?
You be the judge.
I received this over a week ago:
Please be aware that your reproduction of the handwritten or typed letters of Chuck Philips to individuals violates his copyright and trademark. Violation of Mr. Philips’ copyright and trademark can head to fines in excess of 100,00 per instance.
As a courtesy, we will give you 72 hours to remove this material from your website. I have advised Mr. Philips to take legal action against you and your website should you not cease and desist within this time frame.
“In excess of 100,00″ — wow, that sounds like a lot! It would sound like even more if there were three zeroes after the comma, the way one normally writes numbers.
So what is this about? The “cordial” Mr. Carlson doesn’t say, but I believe the posts he is referring to are here and here.
In brief, Mr. Philips was reporting about criminal cases against (now convicted criminal) Anthony Pellicano for the Los Angeles Times. Philips has always seemed unnaturally friendly to Mr. Pellicano, and the letters — written to prison inmates who were potential witnesses — seemed to suggest story lines that would benefit Mr. Pellicano. In other words, Philips did not write the inmates to ask: “What happened?” Instead, he wrote letters that set out various scenarios that would be helpful to Pellicano’s defense, and asked the inmates, “Is that what happened?”
In one letter, Philips presented an inmate with a scenario of misconduct by FBI agents who had conducted a search of Pellicano’s office, and reminded the inmate that the agents were “the same officials who charged and prosecuted your case.” He told the inmate that “[i]t is obvious to me that the government is not being candid” and opined that Pellicano’s rights had been violated. Philips told the inmate that he believed the inmate’s recollection could “sink this case” against Pellicano.
Just another day at your always objective Big Media corporation!
You can read the letters at the links. (Yes, more than 72 hours later, they are still there.)
In short, Philips acted as a partisan advocate for Pellicano, rather than as an objective reporter.
And at the same time, he was reporting on Pellicano’s case for the Los Angeles Times.
I broke the story of Philips’s astoundingly biased reporting in the posts linked above. If Philips had not already been fired, one wonders if these posts would have resulted in the same action.
Are we truly to believe that Philips wants to retain the right to publish these letters on his own? Or is he using copyright to try to hide letters that are professionally embarrassing to him, because they reveal how he operates as a journalist? The answer to that rather rhetorical question comes in a follow-up that Carlson sent to my lawyer Ron Coleman:
Please be advised that, moreover, as a matter of ethics, your publication of these letters by the author may interfere with the prosecution of ongoing criminal cases in New York, adversely impacting these prosecutions. We certainly hope that an individual who associates himself with the DA’s office in law enforcement would be aware of the untoward consequences of his actions and show appropriate judgment. It appears, at the very least, unseemly for an individual associated with law enforcement to be involved in the dissemination of this sort of prejudicial information. In this connection, it may be of some assistance for your client to review the ongoing cases of the US v. James Rosemond of which Mr. Frey should be aware, given his stated expertise. Certainly your client would not want to interfere with this prosecution. We will assume that now that we have made you aware of these ethical issues, your client will remove these materials as a matter of prudent judgment and so further investigation and complaint will not be necessary.
Ah, the old workplace threat! Are Neal Rauhauser and Brett Kimberlin behind this?
For the record, I have received absolutely no contact from any prosecutor asking me to take down the posts with Philips’s letters, nor can I imagine why they would. Also, for the record, everything I say on this site is said as a private citizen. The disclaimer is over there on the right sidebar, right under that Amazon widget.
There is no ethical issue. What there is, is a thuggish attempt to use baseless legal threats and threats to complain to my workplace — all to force me to remove posts that show Philips was trying to push a pro-Pellicano story line while he was writing for the Los Angeles Times.
How big a story is this going to become? I guess we’ll see, won’t we?
In the meantime, my thanks to my lawyer Ron Coleman, who always has my back. You can read his entire exchange with Mr. Carlson here.
Breitbart made his name by sowing outrage. He promoted the hidden-camera videos that helped take down the liberal community activist group ACORN. He exposed the sex-charged online romp of the now ex-Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner. He hyped a video that left the misleading impression that an Agriculture Department employee was giving a speech defending racism. In fact, she was condemning it.
That is certainly the popular conception of the Sherrod affair. In fact, the truth is far less black and white. The edited video contained evidence of her alleged epiphany about poverty vs. race . . . and the unedited video did not appear to me to be condemning racism at all. Also, people forget that Andrew was making a point about the NAACP and the way the NAACP audience applauded the “don’t help white people” type comments Sherrod made early in the speech.
But I’m not here to nitpick Rainey’s hackery. I’m here to remind you about something he wants you to forget.
Rainey neglects to tell readers that Breitbart (and I) exposed the way that Rainey fell for an ACORN worker’s claims that she hadn’t helped Giles and O’Keefe — only to have Andrew release video proof that she had. I explained Rainey’s pattern of incompetence two years ago:
Regular readers will recall how Rainey uncritically quoted an ACORN worker who suggested that she had ordered Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe out of her office. Rainey (who today lambasts Breitbart for failng to contact Sherrod) hadn’t bothered to contact Breitbart — or Giles or O’Keefe — to ask their side of the story. If Rainey had bothered to do his job, he might have learned that the ACORN worker in question turned out to be only too eager to help Giles and O’Keefe with their purported child prostitution ring.
This was easily one of the most embarrassing events of Rainey’s career. He swallowed a totally false narrative whole and used that narrative to undercut O’Keefe’s ACORN series, only to get whacked upside the head with video proof released by Breitbart. Now he wants to talk about Andrew Breitbart and not disclose this, and he figures he won’t get any pushback because Andrew’s dead.
Here’s your pushback, Rainey. The pushback isn’t going to end just because one guy isn’t around any more. Don’t forget that.
Having just pointed out that Obama didn’t seem to propose new gun control legislation after Aurora, it’s incumbent on me to point that, well, he’s still not. But he’s trying to sound like he is:
Acknowledging sensitivity of the issue, he said Wednesday he believed that even gun owners would agree “that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of children.”
Very clever, Mr. President. You just made it sound like a situation that a) isn’t happening and b) will never happen is somehow a live issue. That’s like the NRA saying: “even gun control advocates would agree that guns should not be confiscated wholesale from every U.S. citizen, including members of the police and military.” Uh, yeah, we’d agree with that — but so what? Do we have laws allowing children to walk around with AK-47s that I’m unaware of somehow?
Maybe he’s talking about 24-year-old adults with AR-15s, like James Holmes. If so, that’s what he should say.
So what is Obama proposing, specifically?
He offered no specific proposals but referred to background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, fugitives and the mentally unbalanced. . Previous efforts to do the same have been thwarted by political opposition and the reluctance of elected officials who endorse the idea to take on the National Rifle Assn., among the nation’s most potent lobbying forces.
(That’s their extra period, by the way.)
So if I understand the L.A. Times, there are currently no “background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, fugitives and the mentally unbalanced” because “efforts to do the same have been thwarted” by the NRA and other gun nuts. I could have sworn we had such background checks already (18 U.S.C. 922(g)) but I’m not an expert on the matter and welcome comment from such experts. Is Obama talking about “gun show loopholes” even though Holmes didn’t buy his guns at a gun show?
How about a little clarity on this, L.A. Times? Maybe Obama isn’t specific because there is no law he could propose that would both a) prevent shootings like this and b) be popular and constitutional.
A country where adults can order AR-15s and there are background checks is different from a country with no background checks where children have “AK-47s.” Obama seems to be implying that we live in the latter country, and the L.A. Times is letting him get away with it.
During a four-day period earlier this month, 47% of the surface of the Greenland ice sheet melted, bringing the total melted area to 97% of the surface, according to NASA.
The melting is the worst that has been observed since researchers have been monitoring the ice sheet, the agency said in a statement posted on its website. According to records from ice cores, it is the worst melt since 1889.
Holy crap! And there’s this SCARY picture to go with it:
So what’s the source for this? Well, the good folks at the L.A. Times, where this fine article appears, have placed the useful link to the NASA statement right there in the article! See there, where it says “website“? Look how convenient that is! Just click on that!
Is there a reason they didn’t provide the direct link to the press release? Well, the cynic in me says: yeah there is. And here’s the reason: if you went and found the actual link to the actual press release (hint: I did and it’s here), you might see this:
“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” says Lora Koenig, a Goddard glaciologist and a member of the research team analyzing the satellite data.
So: it’s the worst melt since 150 years ago . . . but what they don’t tell you is, a really bad melt happens every 150 years or so.
Does that mean we’re totally in the clear? Not necessarily. She goes on to say: “But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”
Well, yeah. If Halley’s Comet returned one year after its next appearance, I guess that would be worrisome. But it would be kind of irresponsible for journalists around 2060 to suggest that we needed to be SUPER WORRIED ABOUT THIS BIG BALL OF FIRE IN THE SKY because nothing like this had appeared in the sky for 75 years . . . without telling you that this particular ball of fire in the sky appears every 75 years or so — and thus, is “right on time.”
If anyone knows how the editors of this rag could possibly justify such rank deception, let me know.
It can be revealed this morning that, in a startling experiment that will be debated for years to come, the editors of the Los Angeles Times have temporarily ceded control of their web site and front page to staffers working directly for the re-election campaign of Barack Obama. According to insiders with knowledge of the plan, the pilot program, initially slated to last 24 hours, may be significantly expanded as the 2012 Presidential election approaches.
The staffers’ initial gambit is to take a standard pro-entrepreneurial speech by Mitt Romney and portray it as xenophobic and frightening. The Obama campaign intends to use the pages of the L.A. Times to suggest that Romney is invoking debunked “birther” claims, despite the complete lack of any reference to birthers in the actual words of Romney or anyone linked to him. The staffers’ article is a bold and daring move that is certain to grab attention due to its sheer audacity and shameless dishonesty. Whether readers will buy the hoax is another story.
Here’s how the Obama campaign staffers chose to portray Romney’s speech in their new position at the L.A. Times:
By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
July 17, 2012, 8:06 p.m.
IRWIN, Pa. — In remarks that played on debunked assertions about President Obama’s birthplace, Mitt Romney on Tuesday said that the current administration resembled foreign governments and one of his chief surrogates said the president needed to “learn how to be an American.”
OK, Patterico here, to say: I’m just kidding. My post so far is a goof. Of course it’s not really true that actual Obama campaign officials have been entrusted with the news pages of the L.A. Times. It’s even worse than that! In a terrifying development, the paper remains under the control of the same cabal of leftist lunatics who have published this rag since before I first started lining bird cages with it in 1993.
To see just how far divorced from reality these nutcases are, let’s take a look at the proof of their frankly insane claim that Romney is appealing to birthers. This claim is based primarily on an assertion that Romney claimed yesterday that “the current administration resembled foreign governments.”
Well, the entire transcript of the speech is available in this post at Hot Air. First let’s get a flavor of what the speech sounded like in general. Again, it is a clear response to Obama’s “successful people didn’t get there on their own” remarks. Here is Mitt Romney:
The idea to say that Steve Jobs didn’t build Apple, that Henry Ford didn’t build Ford Motor, that Papa John didn’t build Papa John Pizza, that Ray Kroc didn’t build McDonald’s, that Bill Gates didn’t build Microsoft, you go on the list, that Joe and his colleagues didn’t build this enterprise, to say something like that is not just foolishness, it is insulting to every entrepreneur, every innovator in America and it’s wrong. [Applause]
. . . .
I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think anyone could have said what he said who had actually started a business or been in a business. And my own view is that what the President said was both startling and revealing. I find it extraordinary that a philosophy of that nature would be spoken by a President of the United States. It goes to something that I have spoken about from the beginning of the campaign. That this election is, to a great degree, about the soul of America.
OK, but didn’t he compare the Obama administration to “foreign” governments? Well, I searched for the word “foreign” in his remarks, and came up with these two passages, which I will place in their proper context:
You understand, of course, what’s going on. What he is saying is his justification for raising taxes higher and higher, because government needs more. What he is saying is his justification for Obamacare, which says that we need 2,300 pages of legislation to have government more intrusive in your life. What he is saying is his justification for a larger and larger government. This is very different, by the way, than the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton that said that the era of big-government was over, that reformed welfare. You heard that story by the way, he is trying to take work out of welfare requirement. It is changing the nature of America, changing the nature of what the Democrats have fought for, and Republicans have fought for. In the past, people of both parties understood that encouraging achievement, encouraging success, encouraging people to lift themselves as high as they can, encouraging entrepreneurs, celebrating success instead of attacking it and denigrating, makes America strong. That’s the right course for this country. His course is extraordinarily foreign. [Applause]
Now, Joe, Joe got it right. Where did Joe go? He, there he is right here. Joe got it right. He said somethingabout what would happen if President Obama were reelected. And I don’t think that’s going to happen. But if he were reelected, I want you to know that what you’ve see for the last three and a half years, you’d be seeing for the next four and a half years. And what that means is: chronic high levels of unemployment, it means low wage growth to negative wage growth, declining median incomes in this country, and it means putting America on the door to fiscal calamity.
Not seeing it yet? Well, just wait until you see the next passage!!
And so I see that entrepreneurial spirit and that innovativeness of the American people and our willingness to work hard in whatever role we have and to lift and to improve our lot and to improve the lot of the enterprises we work in—I see that as driving this economy to be the most powerful in the history of the Earth. It has already; it will again. The course we’re on right now is foreign to us. It changes America. This is a vote for what kind of America we’re going to have, and for me I vote for freedom and free people. [Applause]
Let me just end with this thought: this is an important choice. This is a defining choice. This is a choice about what America’s going to be. Not just for the next few years but for a century. This is a choice which will determine what kind of future our kids are going to have. And, in fact, it also determines what kind of future the world’s going to have. America plays an unusual role in the world—I think we understand that. Some in some circles tend to brush that aside. But those that have fought in world wars and other conflicts recognize the greatness of America and our unique role in the history of the earth. [Applause]
But but but . . . John Sununu said Obama needed to learn to be an American! Well, let’s look deeeeeep in the article to see what he actually said:
In a conference call arranged by the Romney campaign, Sununu assailed Obama’s roots in the “political-slash-felon environment” of Chicago and attacked the president’s recent statement that business leaders who had succeeded had help from government, in the form of teachers or road construction workers, among others.
Those business leaders, Sununu said, “are the people who are the backbone of our economy, and the president clearly demonstrated that he has absolutely no idea how the American economy functions. The men and women all over America who have worked hard to build these businesses — their businesses, from the ground up — is how our economy became the envy of the world.”
He added: “It is the American way, and I wish this president would learn how to be an American.”
Asked later whether he could clarify that remark, Sununu said Obama “has to learn the American formula for creating business.”
BIRTHERISM!!!!! He said Obama was born in Kenya!!! You heard him! Right? That was what he said, kinda . . . sorta . . . OK, not really. But . . .
Look. It has to be obvious to anyone reading these passages that Mitt Romney is not being a race-baiting racist obsessed with race who is a racist birther preying on xenophobic racist tropes of Obama being a black black foreign non-American guy. Romney is praising the entrepreneurial spirit. He is decrying the erosion of traditional values of American rugged independence by a nanny-state government that seeks to replicate the failed policies of Social Democrats in the crumbling empire of Europe.
Ah, who am I kidding? He’s just being a racist. The hell with capitalism, free markets, and the American way.
Honestly, the actual situation is worse than if Obama’s people had written this as a press release themselves. At least if it really were Obama staffers in there, there would legally have to be some kind of “I’m Barack Obama and I approved this message” disclaimer on the bottom of this blatant advertisement for Obama’s candidacy.
As it stands, it’s just more claptrap from the L.A. Times. And some idiots fall for it. They really do.
I use plastic bags to pick up my dog’s poop and I have no bird cage to line. This paper serves no purpose any more.
Sure, you may know which man — Mitt Romney or Barack Obama — you want to see running the country, but which one would you have wanted to know in high school?
We learned four years ago that young Barack was a laid-back, not overly studious kid who loved basketball and occasionally smoked a little weed. The kids at Punahou, the prestigious Honolulu prep school Obama attended, never expected their amiable but seemingly unmotivated classmate to one day become the most powerful man on the planet.
. . . .
[I]f you were a certain type of student at Cranbrook back in 1965, the idea of Mitt Romney getting any kind of power over people would have been frightening.
. . . .
Romney pulled together a pack of boys and went to Lauber’s room, where they tackled him and pinned him down. As Lauber, with tears streaming down his cheeks, screamed for help, Romney pulled out scissors and chopped away at the kid’s hair.
If we’re going to keep talking about the dog-eating days of yore, can we at least get it right, Horsey? Obama did some cocaine too:
“Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it,” Obama wrote in a book long before running for Senate. “Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man.”
It doesn’t make for such a nice, neat contrast, of course, to mention the cocaine use. It’s just more factually accurate.
Which is better? Factually accurate? Or a distortion that fits a narrative?
David Horsey and the editors of the L.A. Times have made their choice!
David Mixner, a longtime Democratic and gay rights activist, noted wryly that Obama’s endorsement was “no more symbolic than President Johnson endorsing the Voting Rights bills…. It’s going to give momentum. It’s going to give real legitimacy. It’s going to impact those who are sitting on the fence. Anytime the president takes a major stance on any civil rights issues, whether it’s Harry Truman or John Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson, it lends the power of the presidency to that issue.”
. . . .
Obama’s most valuable contribution may have been the way he described his evolution on the issue. In the ABC interview, he related dinner-table discussions about his daughters’ friends whose parents are same-sex couples.
“That’s the same kind of conversation that’s taking place at kitchen tables around America,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a pro-gay-marriage group. He said Obama’s explanation about “how he had opened his heart and changed his mind” was the most important part of the president’s statement.
Obama also placed his personal opinion in the context of his values as a “practicing Christian,” in line with efforts by gay marriage proponents to sway conservative voters. Obama said that, contrary to those who believe same-sex marriage is at odds with Christian teachings, it “is not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf — but it’s also the golden rule, you know? Treat others the way you’d want to be treated.”
If we’re going to talk about Obama’s “evolution” on this issue, let’s talk about Obama’s evolution on this issue.
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