Patterico's Pontifications

12/31/2009

Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2009

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Patterico @ 10:28 pm



The time has come to document another year’s worth of bias, omissions, and distortions at the L.A. Times — all gathered together in one handy post. As always, there’s something about seeing all this stuff in one place that really opens your eyes.

This year, L.A. Times editors whitewashed (and botched basic facts about) the ACORN scandal; protected their hero Barack Obama; sneered at tea parties; openly pushed health care reform; gave space to someone lauding killer Ted Kennedy’s “moral largeness”; hid evidence of the Fort Hood shooter’s Muslim ties and then flushed the evidence; made up a quote from John Cornyn and then flushed the evidence; hid conflicts of interest from multiple op-ed contributors; plagiarized Wikipedia; eliminated its local news section; had four rounds of layoffs; suffered from plummeting circulation; and committed numerous high-profile editing errors.

To name just some of their problems.

Oh: and they wrote numerous detailed corrections in response to my complaints. As they do every year.

Liberal bias? Check. Rank incompetence? Check.

Without further ado, here is my seventh annual review of the Los Angeles Times, otherwise known as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer.

WHITEWASHING THE ACORN SCANDAL

DSC02024.jpg
Above: James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles

In September, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles released eye-opening undercover videos showing ACORN workers at numerous offices helping the couple with a purported prostitution ring. This newspaper whitewashed the ACORN scandal right from the beginning, portraying it as a “conservative” complaint, utterly failing to mention the fact that Giles and O’Keefe told ACORN employees that they were pimping out young girls aged 13-15 smuggled in from El Salvador.

Then Peter Dreier wrote a fact-challenged op-ed claiming that Giles and O’Keefe had received assistance at only two ACORN offices. (The documented number was at least five at the time the op-ed appeared.) Dreier also incorrectly claimed that “not a single person who signed a phony name on a registration form ever actually voted” — although one person who did was later convicted only of false registration and not voter fraud.

It quickly emerged that Dreier has been a consultant for ACORN, and served on their advisory committee — a fact not disclosed in his op-ed. Dreier later claimed to me that his consulting work was unpaid — but he pointedly refused to answer questions about his work on the advisory committee, or why he failed to disclose his ties to ACORN.

I wrote a letter to editor Nick Goldberg complaining about the inaccuracies and omissions. The paper eventually issued an inadequate correction in response to my complaints.

[UPDATE: I don’t consider Goldberg to be part of any deliberate “whitewash.” I think he gave op-ed space to someone who is either dishonest or plain stupid — and then lacked the single pair of conservative editorial eyes necessary to catch the blatant misstatements in Dreier’s piece.]

But the funniest material came from hapless L.A. Times columnist James Rainey.

Rainey EggFace

In September, Rainey wrote a column in which he uncritically quoted ACORN worker Lavelle Stewart suggesting that she had turned Hannah Giles and James O’Keefe out of her office. Rainey hadn’t bothered to contact Breitbart — or Giles or O’Keefe — to ask their side of the story. I predicted that Rainey would end up with egg on his face. When Breitbart started hinting that he had damning video, my prediction started looking better and better. And sure enough, the very person Rainey had uncritically quoted turned out to be the star of Giles and O’Keefe’s latest ACORN video:

doh.jpg

Above: James Rainey

Leading me to post this:

Crow for Dinner

Breitbart appeared on Hannity and slammed Rainey for his slippery treatment of the scandal.

The best part: Rainey had criticized Fox News for uncritically accepting only one side of the story. There were so many levels to the irony, you needed an elevator to visit them all.

But it didn’t end there. Rainey then wrote an ass-covering column that minimized his error — and which included a purported quote from O’Keefe. After I investigated the source of the quote, it turned out to be largely fabricated.

As if all this wasn’t enough, the paper let stand another fabricated quote from O’Keefe, which was originally reported by the Washington Post, and reprinted by the L.A. Times. The Post corrected the error back in September. The Times still hasn’t.

SYCOPHANTIC COVERAGE OF OUR HERO BARACK OBAMA

The paper uncritically reported that opposition to Obama’s health care plan was fueled by angry mobs of right-wing extremists. Typical of editors’ attitude was this strawman from a front-page “news analysis” which claimed Obama “has seen the healthcare debate sidetracked by false warnings that government ‘death panels’ would be employed to snuff out Grandma.” Naturally, genuine concerns about rationing of health care were not discussed in this polemic.

Strawman

The paper gave op-ed space to someone who implied that government can cover our health care — and it won’t cost us a dime! Because government money appears magically, out of nowhere!

When Obama held a town hall meeting on health care, he declared: “I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter.” This was an easily provable lie, and editors failed to tell readers about it.

The paper dutifully ran a picture of doctors in white coats — an image designed to lend credibility to Obama’s health care plan — and didn’t tell readers that the White House had passed out the coats beforehand to any doctor not already wearing one.

Handout Coats
Editors forgot to mention Obama’s little costume trick

When a controversy arose about Truther and Obama appointee Van Jones, the paper dismissed it as “a firestorm that raged almost entirely on conservative talk shows and websites.” Well, sure: the print version of the paper did indeed ignore the controversy until Jones resigned — an indication that it was indeed a legitimate story that the paper had simply refused to cover. The same pattern held with NEA communications director Yosi Sergant: editors hid the controversy from their print readers right up until he resigned.

Official gusher Faye Fiore called the Obamas’ date night a “fascination and an inspiration.” She breathlessly declared the Obamas “impossibly elegant” — forgetting to mention that the evening was impossibly expensive.


Above: reporter Faye Fiore forgot to mention that you and I are footing the bill for the Obamas’ “impossible elegance”

Under Bush, unemployment was called “unemployment.” Under Obama, L.A. Times editors came up with a different name, which I am not making up: “funemployment.” iowahawk had a field day with that one.

Obama promised to “create or save” 600,000 jobs. It was a bogus formulation to begin with, but it became even more bogus when editors left out the “or saved” part of this weaselly phrase.

When Obama violated his pledge to make bills available for review for five days, editors overlooked it. But hey, the bill wasn’t that important — it was just a stimulus bill costing almost a trillion dollars. The paper groused that Republicans had failed to participate in the drafting of the bill to give it a bipartisan sheen — all because Republicans failed to treat things like an increased government role in health care as the “consensus item” that the editors falsely claimed it was.

Editors employed classic techniques of liberal bias in describing Republican criticism of Obama.

After Obama repeatedly described as “unprecedented” a business-as-usual plan to root out waste in government, L.A. Times stenographers described the plan as unprecedented!

Editors declared a string of broken Obama promises to be a sign of flexibility and pragmatism.

The paper wrote a slobbering article about Obama solving a diplomatic crisis — with one word!

Obama Genius
The editors’ mental picture of Obama

Barack Obama: is there anything he can’t do??

Before Obama took office, editors wanted to portray the job situation as bleak. So they told readers that job losses were at their highest level since 1945 — but failed to mention that this figure represented absolute numbers, and misleadingly failed to reflect the explosion in the country’s population since then.

Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama did not teach constitutional law. Tell that to the editors of the L.A. Times, who had claimed otherwise numerous times.

On the positive side of the ledger, the paper reported it when the Obama administration warned a Democrat strategist to stay off Fox News.

PRO-DEMOCRAT BIAS IN GENERAL

As Hillary Clinton faced confirmation as Secretary of State, editors failed to document the extent of the questionable donations received by the Clinton Foundation.

The paper lauded killer Ted Kennedy as a “top warrior for health care reform.” You could almost hear reporter Bob Drogin sobbing as he wrote his melodramatic story about Kennedy’s funeral. We had to endure commentary talking about the “moral largeness” of a guy who left a woman to drown at Chappaquiddick, promptly informing authorities within a mere ten hours.

chappaquiddick-kennedy
Above: the results of Ted Kennedy’s “moral largeness”

ANTI-REPUBLICAN BIAS AND ANTI-TEA PARTY SENTIMENT

The paper used loaded language such as saying Republicans would “snipe” at Obama as he swam “against the partisan tide” — as layoffs “add[ed] urgency to the need to agree on a stimulus plan.”

Stimulus plan good . . . tea parties bad. And inconsequential. When KFI’s John and Ken hosted a taxpayer revolt that drew 8000-15,000 people, the paper refused to cover it, for transparently phony reasons. Editor David Lauter responded to hundreds of angry readers in one e-mail — and failed to use a “bcc” line, meaning he shared each angry reader’s e-mail address with all the others. If you’re thinking: “What a moron!” then you have plenty of company.

They did, however, find space to cover one tea party . . . a toddler tea party given by Katie Holmes and Angelina Jolie. The paper later did a fact-challenged hit piece on John and Ken.

When they did cover tea parties, they portrayed them as a uniquely Republican phenomenon that carried risks for Republicans — ignoring the fact that tea-party attendees are also largely fed up with the Republican party.


The L.A. Times thinks these people are all Republicans

Editors, displaying their typical balance, described outgoing President Bush as “unrepentant.” Well, hey, that’s the word I’ll use about the editors after their paper finally dies.

When the government produced a ridiculous report that appeared to declare conservative sentiments to be a worrisome phenomenon that should concern law enforcement, did the L.A. Times worry about the obvious chilling effect on political beliefs? No, it parroted the phantom concern about those damn violent right-wingers.

In the stimulus bill debate, the paper unfairly portrayed Republicans as “complainers.”

It was instructive to compare the unflattering portrayal of Republican opposition to the favorable portrayal of Democrat opposition to Bush in 2001.

The paper explained that George W. Bush never admitted error. Except, he did.

The paper recycled a hoary old fable about George H.W. Bush being surprised by supermarket scanners.

Every past Republican president in recent memory got slandered. With Reagan, the editors compared his resurgent popularity to that of Josef Stalin.

DA-SC-90-03096 stalin

Potato, potahto

Jack Dunphy caught the paper putting an angry-looking picture of Michael Steele on the Web site’s front page.

The paper resurrected its oft-repeated canard that George W. Bush came to power through the strength of a Supreme Court ruling — rather than the way he actually did: by winning the 2000 election.

PRO-TAX AND SPENDING BIAS

Editors ran an article about the Horrible Impact of Spending Cuts and the Questionable Nature of Republican Claims — while burying or omitting any discussion of the horrible impact of tax increases and the questionable nature of Democrat claims.

The paper portrayed a ridiculous California budget deal as an attack on the elderly, the poor, and children.

The paper always details the horrors of spending cuts, but ignores the problems associated with tax increases.

The paper persisted in its usual tactic of describing a cut in projected wish list spending as a budget cut. This way, even keeping spending at the same level gets described as a “cut.”

Editors pretended that the rich were failing to pay their fair share of taxes — while burying the dire economic consequences of soaking the rich.

WAR ON TERROR

When Major Nidal Malik Hasan perpetrated a terrorist act of mass murder at Fort Hood, the L.A. Times‘s initial story had no mention of the shooter’s religion, his alleged rants against U.S. involvement in Iraq, his alleged approval of suicide bombings, or the allegations that he was shouting something in Arabic as he shot. But the paper did make sure to include irrelevant statistics concerning suicides at Army bases due to deployments to the war. After Instapundit linked my post and the story became an obvious embarrassment to the paper, editors did what they generally do with embarrassing stories: they flushed it down the memory hole.

TEXAS-SHOOTING/
Nidal Malik Hasan
Media Memory Hole2
Where the original Hasan story went
(Credit: Freedom Now! blog)

Reporter Carol Williams wrote an utterly irresponsible article that badly mischaracterized the holding of a significant court decision about the war on terror. As I explained in an e-mail to Williams and her editor, Williams had reported assumptions about John Ashcroft’s policies as if they were fact, and falsely implied that all three judges on the panel had criticized Ashcroft. The paper ended up issuing a remarkably lengthy and detailed correction that noted the errors I had pointed out.

Editors engaged in a highly misleading campaign against the use of the Patriot Act to prosecute unruly airline passengers. The paper significantly minimized the behavior of two people accused of disrupting flights. It later turned out that one of the experts they quoted completely disagreed with the thesis of the article — not that they bothered to explain that to readers in the first instance.

An article about convicted terrorists portrayed them as impoverished dupes who were dragged through the coals in a years-long, multi-million dollar persecution.

Editors somehow managed to publish an entire article regarding whether waterboarding was effective without once mentioning its biggest reported success.

The paper is always happy to give op-ed space to a Hamas terrorist.

IRAN

Editors acted as stenographers for Ahmadinejad after his dubious re-election.


Editors called this maniac “vigorous and assertive” while burying doubts about his election

However, from the “Credit where credit is due” department, we saw the paper tell the story of an Iranian martyr named Neda. Nice job, for once.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

The paper wrote a story about a college student who was both an illegal immigrant and an affirmative action beneficiary. Shockingly, the tough questions were studiously avoided.

Editors took on an ICE policy of deporting illegal aliens with whom they came into contact — distorting the policy to falsely suggest that ICE was targeting innocent illegals. Internal ICE memos discovered by a reader of mine proved that the paper had distorted ICE policy.

Just to make it clear which side of the immigration debate the L.A. Times is on, the paper told a sob story about a man being deported for the minor crime of trying to kill someone.

RACE/POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

In 2005, the editors sanctimoniously announced that there was no reason to segregate state prisoners by race. I like to remind them of this every time there is a major race riot at a prison, and this year was no exception.

One thing that has always frustrated me is the way that the paper portrays good police work as racism. A great example can be found here, where editors complained about numerous examples of black men being stopped by police because other black men had committed crimes. Whose fault is that?

THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY

Editors claimed that Sen. John Cornyn said he “would probe deeply into Sotomayor’s past comments and rulings to see if her heritage colors her ability to make fair decisions.” This was a lie, as Cornyn said no such thing. Editors then sent the false claim down the memory hole.

Cornyn
John Cornyn
Media Memory Hole2
Where the story with the fabricated quote went
(Credit: Freedom Now! blog)

When Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor got caught saying something very impolitic — that courts make policy — editors suggested that she was joking. But she wasn’t.

After being slandered by this paper all last year, Judge Alex Kozinski saw the proceedings against him concluded without a finding of misconduct. The paper chose instead to fixate on some footnote concerning a gag e-mail list Kozinski had a few years ago. When the Ninth Circuit finally dismissed the claims against Kozinski, the paper totally ignored it.

Just as the paper slammed Kozinski, it protected liberal federal judge Stephen Reinhardt, deciding not to tell readers when the Supreme Court declared that Reinhardt had dissembled in a death penalty appeal.

CRIME

The paper’s coverage of the Roman Polanski case was an object lesson in the heights — and depths — of which the paper is capable of reaching. Starting with the depths: Patrick Goldstein suggested that the pedophile and child rapist should not be held accountable because it would cost too much money to sentence him. After a considerable backlash, Goldstein implausibly asserted that Hollywood doesn’t really support Polanski — a claim easily refuted with video of the standing ovation he received for winning the Oscar for “The Pianist.”

A front-page headline claimed that Polanski had merely been “accused” of the sexual assault — when, in fact, he had pled guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.

Polanski Merely Accused

On the positive side, Steve Lopez wrote an excellent column that publicized the victim’s grand jury testimony — testimony that I had been telling readers about for months. Reporter Joe Mozingo broke news about Polanski’s civil settlement with the victim, and wrote a lengthy and seemingly accurate article that dispelled many of the myths that were floating around about the case.


This time Steve Lopez did his research

The paper told readers about a decree from federal judges that 43,000 prisoners be released from state prisons. But editors neglected to mention that the judges were all appointed by Democrats.

The paper reported on a 19-year-old rape/murder being solved by a hit from a DNA database — but neglected to mention that editors had crusaded against exactly these kinds of databases.

They’re such sniveling cowards at this paper, they won’t say someone committed a crime — even after they’re convicted by a jury. But then, these were co-conspirators working with Anthony Pellicano — and we know that the paper has always been partial to him, even at the expense of its own reporter, Anita Busch.

The paper trumpeted the ACLU’s crusade to empty Los Angeles area jails — but failed to remind readers that this would undoubtedly result in more innocent people dying.

The paper swallowed whole a ridiculous liberal claim about the cost of the death penalty. (Editors have a history of making similar claims themselves.)

As is its habit, the paper trumpeted the bona fides of an alleged anti-gang worker who is really a criminal. This time, it was Alex Sanchez.

ANTI-POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT ATTITUDES

Editor Paul Thornton allowed himself to get misled by Radley Balko and Brian Doherty, and thus criticized Jack Dunphy for things he never said.

The paper consistently reports on the number of officer-involved shootings, implying that they are the fault of law enforcement — even when they clearly aren’t.

On a positive note, the paper gave a nice write-up to our friend, DDA Debbie Knaan.

OP-ED AND COLUMNISTS

The paper failed to disclose a significant conflict of interest on the part of self-styled police critic Merrick Bobb. I sent an e-mail to editor Sue Horton about it. Editors decided to do nothing.

Editors have this habit of soliciting comments from my guest poster Jack Dunphy and then refusing to publish them because he uses a pseudonym. They did it again this year, and I think it’s pretty rude.

MICHAEL HILTZIK

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Above: Michael Hiltzik

Sock puppeteer Michael Hiltzik got his “business” column back last year. This year, the column continued to be mostly leftist political claptrap as opposed to “business.” I called this repeat phenomenon “giving readers the business.” (Apologies to Wally Cleaver.)

In a typically fatuous column about the state budget, our friend Nofanofcablecos became Nofanofaccuratestatistics — claiming that the California population had increased by 30% over 10 years. He only overstated it by 100%. Close enough for L.A. Times work? Surprisingly, no. I complained, and the paper issued a correction. The correction was incorrect and misleading — i.e. par for the course.

Hiltzik is such a crazy leftist, he actually suggests that the government should prevent banks from repaying TARP money, so that the government can retain control over the banks.

Hiltzik also claimed to be in favor of competition for health care — yet at the same time, he favors a single-payer system. Huh?

JAMES RAINEY

James Rainey
Above: the hapless James Rainey

We already roundly mocked James Rainey above for his dishonest and ridiculous coverage of the ACORN scandal. But I’m not done with him yet.

Rainey railed against Fox News — yet was mostly silent about MSNBC and totally gave a pass to CNN.

Rainey slammed my friend Jill Stewart — without revealing his ulterior reasons for doing so, or contacting anyone with a contrary viewpoint. In doing so, he appeared to violate his paper’s policy on anonymous sources. Luke Y. Thompson responded here.

Rainey sanctimoniously proclaimed that there had been too much coverage of Miss California — in a column about Miss California. Complete with a picture of Miss California.

Matt Welch discussed the prospect of government bailouts of newspapers — which would turn watchdogs into lapdogs. Meanwhile, the paper pretended that the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine was a phony Republican bugaboo — even as a U.S. Senator called for hearings to explore the reinstatement of the doctrine. As Democrat sponsors continued to line up, I wondered: did columnist James Rainey plan to print a retraction?

TIM RUTTEN

rutten.jpg

Above: Tim Rutten

Jack Dunphy recalled Tim Rutten’s complaint that officer concern over release of private information was “preposterous.” It seemed less preposterous after it actually happened. He’s such a shill, he even uncritically accepted the Obama administration’s “created or saved” nonsense.

How big a tool is Rutten? He actually believes that Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

Tim Rutten argued that the criticism of the president was violent and hysterical — but somehow forgot to note that there had been violent and hysterical criticism of Bush. I reminded him.

imheretokillbush
Yes, Mr. Rutten, President Bush got violent and hysterical protests too

POTHEADS

Why were the paper’s columnists so awful? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that so many of them used their positions as columnists to obtain medical marijuana — under the pretext of writing about it (or doing stupid and pointless videos about it).

You’d have to be high to think this is funny

FINANCIAL WOES AND ENDLESS LAYOFFS

In a stunning move, the paper killed its California section — even as it raised the price of the paper. But the paper decided to keep it on Sundays — news that broke exclusively at my site. The paper claimed it was still covering local stories — yet somehow missed a story about a proposed $70 million increase in unfunded liabilities at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

A rumor went around that Rupert Murdoch was considering buying the paper.

After this web site accurately reported rumors of massive layoffs, the news of 70 more layoffs in January seemed like death in slow motion. After a while, news of further March layoffs became a dog bites man story. It happened again in October, and then again in December. Circulation continued to plummet, and I have begun to question whether the paper even makes a profit any more.

MISTAKES, WE MAKE MISTAKES

I guess they laid off a lot of editors, because one edition of the paper went out with all the headlines unwritten.

L.A. Times Unwritten Headlines 1
(Source: lies.com)

And then it happened again (albeit only online).

Insert Headline Here

In a single day, the paper managed to confuse LAPD officers and LAPD Explorers (members of a youth program); confuse the concept of a “radius” with that of a circle’s area; and misstate the weight of water by over 50%. They soon corrected the error about Explorers and officers.

The paper told readers that Obama had “dawned” a pair of jeans (later identified as “mom jeans”) to incompetently toss out the first pitch at a baseball game.

MISCELLANEOUS

The paper ran countless stories about Michael Jackson’s death — while lesser stories like the revolt in Iran or cap-and-trade legislation went virtually unnoticed.

The paper engaged in blatant plagiarism. Worse, the source that was plagiarized was the notoriously unreliable Wikipedia.

The paper ran an advertisement disguised as a front-page story. Funnyman Roy Rivenburg mocked editors.

The paper found room (apparently online) to write about penile fractures. Ouch.

In an exclusive interview with patterico.com, John Ziegler provided a critique of an L.A. Times article about talk radio.

IN CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed the post. If you’re interested, I have done six previous annual reviews of the newspaper. The previous annual reviews can be found at these links:

UPDATE: Thanks to John Hinderaker at Power Line for the link and the kind words.

UPDATE x2 1-1-10: The paper today corrected the fabricated O’Keefe quote that had been published in the Washington Post. They have yet to correct the fabricated O’Keefe quote appearing in James Rainey’s column. Details here.

12/31/2008

Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2008

It happens every year: I read every post I’ve written over the past 365 days about the Los Angeles Times . . . and I think to myself: this is just unbelievable. There’s something appalling and eye-opening about seeing an entire year’s worth of the paper’s bias, omissions, and distortions gathered in one post.

This year, L.A. Times editors slammed Sarah Palin, John McCain, and McCain’s ally Joe the Plumber — while they protected Barack Obama and his allies, including unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers and radical Palestinian Rashid Khalidi. The paper described a 19-point margin in opposition to gay marriage as a “narrow margin,” and displayed the usual politically correct attitudes on race, abortion, and crime. We watched the paper overreach on the story about Judge Alex Kozinski’s porn collection that wasn’t. And the paper retracted a story by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips, in one of the most embarrassing incidents in the paper’s history. This year saw a campaign of relentless distortions on DNA evidence; the bankruptcy of Tribune Company; and a collection of errors like none we’ve ever seen before.

Yup, it was a fun year for liberal bias and incompetence at the local rag. So without further ado, here is my sixth annual review of the Los Angeles Times, otherwise known as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer. We’ll start at the logical place:

THE 2008 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

THE PRIMARIES

The newspaper completely ignored some stunningly ignorant comments that Hillary Clinton had made about Pakistan and its elections. Then the editors ignored them again. Editors continued to ignore these statements even after Hillary was nominated to be Obama’s Secretary of State — on the strength of her alleged expertise in foreign policy.

But, as with John McCain, the editors showed no kindness to Hillary when she was posing a threat to their preferred candidate: Barack Obama.


Hillary got a taste of how Republicans are treated by the L.A. Times.

They even misquoted Hillary after Super Tuesday in a way that made her sound like she was making a concession far greater than the one she had actually made. I wrote the paper and obtained a correction. (Read on; you’ll see many similar instances of my correcting the paper’s inaccuracies.)

Hillary got a little taste of how the paper slams Republicans on a daily basis with the wording of an article. And then she got yet another taste, to the point where I was surprised that the editors hadn’t explicitly labeled her a “shrill and desperate bitch.” (Meanwhile, the articles about Obama focused on how Republicans loved him too.)

When the editors reached in their rhetorical bag of tricks and came out with the observation that there was a “growing consensus” that her presidential bid was doomed . . . well, you knew it was over then. You might be able to fight City Hall, but you can’t fight a “growing consensus” in Big Media.

Hillary had the last laugh, though, when she put reporters (including an L.A. Times reporter) in a restroom. I found it oddly appropriate, given the nature of what L.A. Times reporters generally produce.

As for the Republican primaries, the paper followed a strategy of propping up McCain, to set him up for a later knockdown.

The paper endorsed McCain in the primaries, causing Jack Dunphy to observe that this was a sign for true Republicans to support Romney. But the paper’s editors foreshadowed how they would treat McCain in the general election, when a story’s lede blamed McCain for a supporter’s capital crime of using Obama’s given middle name — something that McCain had expressly repudiated, as the story only later explained.

The newspaper has always claimed to care about substance vs. style — but when a candidate of substance came along (Fred Thompson), the paper focused on his dullness.

THE GENERAL ELECTION: OBAMA VS. McCAIN


Good

Bad

Above: the editors’ view of the candidates

Love for Obama

The pro-Obama spin kicked in early.


The editors’ preferred candidate

When the Reverend Wright controversy hit, TV sets across the nation were looping clips of Wright screaming “God damn America” and saying that America’s chickens had come home to roost on 9/11 — yet the initial L.A. Times story on the Wright controversy, incredibly, omitted mention of both controversial statements. The paper finally gave prominence to these details . . . after Obama resigned from the church.


The editors weren’t quite sure what Rev. Wright had said that was so bad.

How much did the paper love Obama? Well, one story began, in a quote I am not making up, “Words helped get Barack Obama where he is today. Elegant words. Inspiring words. Words that swoop and words that soar.” This stuff mocks itself.

When Obama blatantly broke his pledge to accept public financing, the L.A. Times anticipated the decision by spinning it as a positive — just as I had predicted they would. After Obama’s rejection of public financing was official, I was briefly shocked when the initial L.A. Times story actually took Obama to task. But, true to form, the editors got their hands on the story and fuzzed it up for the print edition.

After the Heller gun rights decision was announced, legal affairs reporter David Savage allowed Obama to pretend he had always supported the principles enunciated by the decision, when in fact, Obama’s campaign had supported the D.C. law struck down in that case.

The paper also protected the image of Bill Ayers, and minimized the extent of Obama’s contacts with Ayers. The paper gave Bill Ayers a little puff piece in April, allowing him to falsely whine that he had been misrepresented in the media. Not mentioned: Ayers’s expressed lack of regret for setting bombs.


To the editors, Bill Ayers was a nutty, nutty radical whom Obama barely knew.

On Ayers, the paper asserted: “McCain alleged that Obama launched his political career in the former Weatherman’s living room, an assertion for which there is no recorded basis.” I proved that this was not true, with a link to a blog entry written by someone who was there who had claimed exactly that. (Shortly after my post, that blog post disappeared down the memory hole, but I had, of course, saved the evidence.) Evidently the blogger thought that the post had showed the critical Obama-Ayers tie for which the paper claimed there was no evidence. But the paper refused to issue a correction.

The paper also covered for Obama when it emerged that the newspaper possessed a tape of Obama at a dinner honoring Palestinian radical Rashid Khalidi. The paper said it had made a promise to a source not to release the tape, which made some sense, but it made no sense that the paper wouldn’t release any additional information. Former L.A. Times reporter Evan Maxwell wrote me to argue that the paper should release the tape, but that never happened.

I’ll give editors credit for this: they did run an article in July saying that Obama can’t pay for everything he promised to do when elected.

But for the most part, we learned about Obama’s shortcomings only after he was safely elected. Only then did editors fully reveal some issues that the paper had previously downplayed or completely failed to disclose — like the fact that Obama oversimplified the foreign policy challenges he faced, or the fact that his economic policies are terribly worrying to some investors, or the fact that he is unlikely to chart a centrist course. After the election, a blog at the paper’s web site also revealed that Obama’s small donor base image is a myth — shocking news, except that I had revealed it before the election.

Anti-McCain Bias

Once McCain clinched the nomination, the paper started in with the hit pieces, beginning with one that revived a set of hoary old howlers regarding ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda — including a misquotation of the 9/11 Commission Report. I wrote the Readers’ Representative and obtained a correction, which was inadequate.


The L.A. Times liked John McCain . . . until he got nominated.

In August, the L.A. Times published an article describing six major issues where McCain had taken on his party, and zero issues where Obama had done the same. The theme of the article: McCain is not a maverick.

Without any context, the paper claimed that after the economic crisis hit, McCain “declared that ‘the fundamentals of our economy are strong'” — an utter distortion of McCain’s initial reaction to the crisis. And the paper grievously distorted the record on responsibility for the mortgage crisis — leaving out scads of facts pointing to significant Democrat culpability.

McCain finally responded to the economic crisis by giving a speech that hit hard on the Democrats’ responsibility. The L.A. Times cut out the portion of the speech relating to the economy — and then quoted Obama saying McCain was scared to talk about the economy. George Orwell would have been proud.

Then, after I wrote about it, they sent that story down the memory hole.

I don’t make this stuff up, folks. I just report it.

The paper quoted a voter implying that Obama cared more about gas prices because he mentioned them first in the conventions — omitting the rather obvious point that Obama mentioned gas prices first because the Democrats had their convention first.

When McCain got a serious bounce after the convention — 10 points in one poll — the paper did its best to minimize it.

After John McCain talked about firing the SEC Chair, the L.A. Times jumped on the Media Conventional Wisdom Bandwagon and repeated the canard that a president can’t fire an SEC Chair. Of course, he can — as the paper finally admitted in a correction prompted by my complaint.

The paper went on and on and on about the anger at the Republican rallies, to the point where a friend who is an Obama supporter thought the article was an opinion piece.

A news article called a debate “a perfect distillation of McCain’s general election campaign, with all of its inconsistent messages.” Now that’s objective!

Just as the paper protected Obama ally Ayers, it attacked McCain ally Joe the Plumber. When the Joe the Plumber phenomenon hit, the L.A. Times found it very important to note that Joe, a citizen who had dared to asked Obama a question, had tax liens. The fact that Obama’s treasurer had tax liens? Not so important. After I pointed this out, and Howard Kurtz picked up my observation, the L.A. Times story that had generated the criticism disappeared down the memory hole — re-emerging in a different form at a different Web address.

As we have seen (and will continue to see), the editors are really fond of that little “memory hole” trick.

Anti-Palin Bias

The paper found it important to report the silly rumors that Trig Palin was not Sarah Palin’s son, but rather the son of her daughter Bristol. The paper also helpfully included a picture of Bristol holding Trig in a motherly fashion, just to ensure there was visual proof of this nonsense.

sarah-palin.jpg
Above: The editors never liked Sarah Palin.

Some of the paper’s reportage on Palin was at least halfway fair, mixing some deserved praise in with the cheap shots. And to their everlasting credit, they criticized Charlie Gibson for mischaracterizing a prayer of Palin’s — even if the article had some silly and misplaced criticisms as well.

Of course, not all the staff writers got the message. Even after the paper caught Gibson’s distortion, the phony charge was repeated by staff writer Mary McNamara, in a column (rife with misspellings and bad writing) that was sent down the memory hole. (I told you: they do a lot of that at the L.A. Times.) Then columnist Steve Lopez flew all the way to Alaska on the newspaper’s dime, just to repeat the exact same canard. I guess not even Steve Lopez can be bothered to read the L.A. Times.

The paper not-so-subtly compared Sarah Palin to Dan Quayle, with a story titled Before Sarah Palin, the GOP Had Dan Quayle.

The paper published an article saying that Palin said “yes” to a “road to nowhere” — and saved for the 31st paragraph out of 33 the news that it might actually be a road to somewhere. Whether it was or wasn’t, the idea that Palin’s justification for the road — a central fact of the story — could be relegated to the end of the story is truly unbelievable . . . or would be, for a more responsible and less biased paper.

The Times quoted a Fox News transcript of a quote from Sarah Palin about Bill Ayers. As I wrote in a letter to the Readers’ Representative, the quote was obviously garbled, but apparently the paper felt no need to watch the show to see if the transcript was accurate. After I called them on it, the paper issued an elliptical correction and set forth an accurate version . . . on page A2. By the way, the initial story on Palin’s quote left out a bunch of facts that supported what Palin was saying. Par for the course.

The coverage of Palin just got more stupid and more insulting as time went on, until the paper was literally doing entire stories about her winking.

The paper did manage to do a puff piece on the vice-presidential candidate . . . the one on the Democrat ticket, that is.


The only VP candidate meriting a puff piece from the L.A. Times was the Democrat.

The paper’s coverage was very often in lockstep with Democrat strategy. For example, before the vice-presidential debate, Democrats tried to lower expectations for Biden and heighten them for Palin . . . and so did the L.A. Times.

Double Standards

The paper did a big expose on Palin’s college years, even though she was merely the Republicans’ vice-presidential candidate. But I found no evidence that the paper ever bothered to do a story on presidential candidate Obama’s mysterious Columbia years, which (according to the New York Times) Obama had misrepresented and refused to discuss.

The paper said that Obama was more honest than McCain — overlooking a huge bounty of Obama falsehoods to reach that conclusion.

PRO-DEMOCRAT BIAS IN GENERAL

Pro-Democrat bias didn’t stop with the election of Obama. The editors falsely told readers that Democrats didn’t have 10 Republican votes necessary to pass the auto industry bailout. The paper eventually corrected the error after I brought it to their attention.

The paper did a great job suppressing the story that John Edwards was having an affair with Rielle Hunter. Mickey Kaus revealed that blog boss Tony Pierce had e-mailed a gag order to Times bloggers asking them not to mention the affair. One blogger wrote me and denied feeling gagged, citing as evidence a blog post written by someone else and published before the gag order was circulated.

A blogger eventually interviewed Pierce, who explained that he simply felt that one item was enough if there was no new hard news. (Because when Republicans get in trouble, the paper always runs just one story and leaves it at that. Right?)

When the Readers’ Representative asked readers if they considered the paper to be biased to the left, I encouraged readers to (politely) let her have it. In July, the paper attempted to refute claims of liberal bias, using laughable and easily refuted arguments.

ANTI-REPUBLICAN BIAS IN GENERAL

One of the ugliest episodes at the paper this year occurred when Tony Snow died. At the L.A. Times Top of the Ticket blog, which says that comments are moderated, a steady stream of ugly vitriol appeared in the comments, reveling in Snow’s death, and hoping that he suffered.

The ugliness spread to comments on Snow’s obituary. Blogger Andrew Malcolm wrote me to defend the publication of the ugly comments — which he told me he found “vile and despicable” — arguing that he shouldn’t engage in viewpoint censorship. But I couldn’t understand why he didn’t criticize them on the L.A. Times blog. Criticism isn’t censorship, after all.


The L.A. Times actively approved comments hoping Tony Snow suffered before he died.

The paper doesn’t censor hateful comments, but it does censor profanity — meaning that it approved comments saying “I hope [Tony Snow] suffered at the end [of his life]” but refused to approve my comment saying that “[a]nyone who would say they hope Tony Snow suffered is a dick.” (Oddly, a comment was approved for a period of time that said Snow looked like a “dick.”)

The year’s bias started on January 1, when a year-end political quiz falsely claimed that George W. Bush “[e]rroneously said Nelson Mandela was dead.” Bush had clearly been speaking metaphorically. Over a month after the item appeared, the paper wrote me to say that editors refused to correct the error.

An assassination plot against Obama got big play — but I noted that plots against Bush had gone unreported.

The paper erroneously claimed that the Supreme Court “determined” Bush won the presidency in 2000.

CHUCK PHILIPS RETRACTS A STORY BASED ON FORGED DOCUMENTS AND IS LAID OFF

Other than the election, the big story of the year began in March, when The Smoking Gun revealed that a story written by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Chuck Philips appeared to have been based on forged documents. Later that same day, the newspaper admitted that the documents relied on by the story were, in fact, forgeries. I urged the paper to take a closer look at the entire body of Philips’s work, and predicted (to derision from my commenters) that Philips was not long for the paper.


Chuck Philips wrote a story based in part on forged documents.

It turned out that the paper had been warned in advance of the story that Philips had relied on anonymous sources with shaky credibility — but the paper had ignored the warning. What’s more, Philips had overlooked a series of red flags that made his story sound . . . peculiar.

The article earned the “Error of the Year” award from a web site that keeps track of newspaper corrections. It made Gawker’s list of the Top Ten Worst Media Moments of 2008. And local notable Kevin Roderick called it “one of the most embarrassing mistakes in [the L.A. Times‘s] history.”

How bad was it? So bad that — I swear I’m not making this up — even Mary Mapes was making fun of Philips.


Even Mary Mapes thought Chuck Philips had really screwed up.

Some argued that if Philips had been scammed, he should disclose his sources — something he has not done to this day. L.A. Weekly editor Jill Stewart observed: “Take away the anonymous sources, and Philips’ entire story turned on a bogus document.” The question of the day was: who gave him the phony documents?

Finally, on April 7, the paper formally issued a stunning retraction of the entire story, making it clear that the problems with Philips’s article went beyond a reliance on forged documents. It was an utter rejection of the story in its entirety. The announcement came on the very same day the Pulitzers were announced — and not only did the paper come up empty, but editors were no doubt worried that Philips would have to give his back.

The paper gave Philips temporary cover, saying he would remain at the paper even as critics were ticking off the story’s multiple failures of fact-checking. But when the publisher compared the retracted story to a plane crash, Philips’s days seemed numbered.

Why was Philips so sloppy? Had his editors required him to cut corners and produce stories too quickly? Not hardly: I calculated that in a 41-month period, he had done only 43 articles . . . barely over one a month.

Philips was finally let go in July, in the middle of a massive round of layoffs, which I believe the paper used to mask the fact that Philips was simply being fired — and would have been fired anyway. He hadn’t published a single story in the four months since The Smoking Gun had destroyed his retracted story.

In July, I learned that James Sabatino, the guy who allegedly hoaxed Philips, is a reader of this site.

THE L.A. TIMES SIDES WITH A SHADY PRIVATE EYE INSTEAD OF ITS OWN REPORTER


Chuck Philips

Anthony Pellicano

Chuck Philips’s reporting typically favored Anthony Pellicano.

Anthony Pellicano, who stands accused of trying to intimidate former L.A. Times reporter Anita Busch with a Mafia-style threat left on her windshield (a fish, a rose, and a note saying “Stop”), was convicted of dozens of federal felonies this year. After the verdict, I interviewed Busch, who told me how the paper had mistreated her after she was threatened. The paper’s top lawyer and Chuck Philips had even tried to enlist the aid of Pellicano . . . the very person who, as it turned out, was fingered by law enforcement as being behind the threats.

Although it is now known that she had truly been threatened, L.A. Times employees mocked her, calling her the “Tawana Brawley of the newsroom.” Chuck Philips rolled his eyes at her. (In an odd side issue, even after it was announced that Pellicano was suspected of having been behind the threats, an editor continued to display a paperweight from Pellicano that said “Sometimes you just gotta play hardball” — although he claimed there was nothing to it.


Anita Busch was mocked at the L.A. Times for reporting death threats that turned out to be genuine.

Although Pellicano turned Busch’s life upside down — tapping her phone, listening to her most secret conversations, and ruining her journalism career — an L.A. Times staff writer still found it appropriate to ask: “[W]here’s Anthony Pellicano when you need him?” and said almost admiringly that “there could be a cool efficiency to how he operated.” Not surprisingly, Pellicano’s victims objected to this insensitivity.

The paper seemed very tight with Pellicano, and after Pellicano was charged, Chuck Philips wrote a series of pro-Pellicano articles. After the conviction, Busch called for an independent investigation of Philips’s reporting on the Pellicano case. Local news legend Pete Noyes served up a rebuke to Philips when he said that a journalist should recuse himself from covering the criminal case of a long-time source — something Philips hadn’t done with Pellicano.

Pellicano did seem to share the paper’s disdain for bloggers; he reportedly said of one that he deserved “a good beating.”

Philips wrote letters to a prison inmate who was a witness in the Pellicano case. In the letters, Philips said he believed that the government had engaged in misconduct — even as he was reporting on whether the government had engaged in this misconduct. Also, he repeatedly ran a particular factual scenario past the witness — one that would benefit Pellicano. In an interview with me, Philips admitted writing the letters to Proctor and defended their content.


Above: An objective reporter writes a witness.

Now that Philips is gone, the paper has been doing good reporting on the case. After it was learned that Pellicano had a man inside the FBI feeding his defense team an FBI report through an intermediary (reportedly actress Linda Fiorentino), the paper caught Pellicano’s lawyer in some contradictory statements regarding where he had gotten the report.


Above: Linda Fiorentino
Source: RadarOnline.com

When Pellicano was finally sentenced, Anita Busch read a statement at his sentencing that was an utterly damning indictment of the paper and its treatment of her. The paper didn’t quote any of Busch’s cutting references to The Times — or even acknowledge that she had been an L.A. Times reporter when threatened. An editor wrote me to defend the omission, saying Busch’s statements were “neither true nor new” — a defense that ignored mountains of evidence supporting Busch’s claims.

CHUCK PHILIPS FAILS TO REPORT FACTS UNDERCUTTING A MURDERER’S CLAIM OF INNOCENCE

In January 2007, Philips wrote a front-page L.A. Times article asserting the innocence of an inmate named Waymond Anderson in a 1993 arson/murder. The article claimed Anderson had a solid alibi, asserting that Anderson was in Jackson, Mississippi on the date that the murder had occurred in Los Angeles County in California. Philips believed that Anderson’s alibi was valid; he has told an interviewer that he believes Anderson is innocent. Philips also told me: “I helped him out doing legal things for his case.” (Full disclosure: my boss prosecuted Anderson.)


Waymond Anderson contradicted his alibi and told tall tales about the “real killers.”

As it turned out, however, Philips knew a lot of evidence that undercut Anderson’s claims of innocence, but didn’t publish it.

For example, Anderson had repeatedly contradicted his alibi in recorded statements made to police. He admitted this year under oath that, on dates that Philips claimed Anderson had been in Mississippi, Anderson had told police that he was in fact in Compton, California — listening to the murders being planned. Philips admitted to me that he had known this fact, but hadn’t reported it.

Philips also knew Anderson had credibility problems. In a deposition, Anderson told tall tales about the “real killer” — who (Anderson claimed) had also killed legendary rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. According to Anderson, the “real killer” had phoned Anderson — while Anderson was incarcerated, facing murder charges — to keep Anderson apprised of his every step in planning these murders . . . and to confess his guilt afterwards. It was a bizarre and utterly unbelievable story.


Above: Tupac Shakur

Above: Biggie Smalls

Waymond Anderson said the guy who framed him also killed these legendary rappers . . . and then confessed to Anderson.

If Anderson’s stories had been true, Philips would have had the biggest story of his career — but he didn’t publish a word of it. Why not? I theorized that Philips didn’t believe Anderson. Philips later confirmed this in an interview with me.

So why didn’t Philips tell readers that Anderson had said unbelievable things about the man who had supposedly framed him for murder? Philips told me he didn’t report these facts because they “muddied up” the story too much.

Well, the truth is sometimes messy — but that doesn’t justify concealing it in the name of simplicity.

It turned out that the facts that Philips and his editor withheld from readers were some of the very same facts that caused a judge to reject Anderson’s claims of innocence in court.

In August, Philips got his reward for championing Anderson’s cause: Anderson accused Philips of conspiring with Suge Knight to suborn perjury and threaten the inmate with messages smuggled into prison. Philips had regularly written pro-Knight articles, but this was going a step further, if Waymond Anderson was to be believed.


Did Chuck Philips smuggle threatening messages for this man? Waymond Anderson said he did.

Of course, Anderson was not believable and never had been — but Philips only recently figured that out, even though the evidence had been staring him in the face from the beginning. In his interview with me, Philips claimed: “Waymond Anderson is a liar.” It would have been nice to have had that point of view when Philips was advocating Anderson’s innocence of murder.

THE KOZINSKI SCANDAL THAT WASN’T

In June, the paper said that the chief judge of the 9th Circuit, Alex Kozinski, had published pornographic materials to a web site. This was seen as ironic because Kozinski was presiding over an obscenity trial.


Alex Kozinski came to be in the editors’ crosshairs. (HO/AFP/Getty Images)

That evening I read that the paper’s tipster was Cyrus Sanai, who had battled with Kozinski previously over issues relating to Sanai’s parents’ divorce litigation. Sanai left a comment on my blog; I phoned him and spoke with him. By early the next morning, I had obtained and published actual images from Kozinski’s “web site” (a private web server that Kozinski used to share odd items with friends). I followed this up later with a second set of images and videos.

It soon became clear that the L.A. Times had overreached. The paper had described a twisted porn collection, when in fact, Kozinski mostly had assembled a collection of humorous or offbeat items that sometimes had a pornographic aspect. There was some questionable and offensive material, as even the judge admitted. But overwhelmingly, my readers said that the actual images themselves were far more innocuous (and often more humorous) than they had been led to believe by the L.A. Times.

The paper stretched to find a parallel between Kozinski’s material and the material produced by the man on trial in Kozinski’s court for obscene images of bestiality and defecation. For example, the paper described a video in Kozinski’s collection as “a video of a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal.” It turned out to be a humorous video of a man running away from an aroused donkey. It was on YouTube and had been on television.

The paper also referred to “themes of defecation and urination” — but vastly understated the humorous context of any such themes. Rather than graphic depictions of bodily functions, material with themes of urination turned out to be stuff like this:

womens-bathroom.jpg
The L.A. Times described images like this as material with “themes of defecation and urination” — failing to adequately convey the humorous context.

The turning point came when Judge Kozinski’s wife harshly criticized the L.A. Times in a letter posted on my site, saying that the paper’s article had been “riddled with half-truths, gross mischaracterizations and outright lies.” The Associated Press quoted liberally from the letter, which was eventually quoted in the L.A. Times itself.

I went on local radio with the reporter, Scott Glover, and had the pleasure of criticizing his story directly to him.

I also dug deeper into the background between Sanai and Kozinski — an angle that the paper had never even mentioned. Tipster Sanai admitted to me that his misconduct complaint against Judge Kozinski was part of a “litigation strategy.”

Critics started to notice the difference between the descriptions and the images. One critic said that “the subsequent revelations of the actual content of his site and how greatly it differs from what Glover describes is in many ways more disturbing than anything Kozinski had in his stash.” Critics also noticed the unsavory goals of the lawyer who had tipped off the paper. The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed titled “Smearing Judge Kozinski.” There was even an op-ed in the L.A. Times that opined that the story had been overblown.

Remarkably, the very same paper that had put the story on the front page editorialized that Kozinski should respond by saying: “So what?” Less than a month later, the schizoids in charge of editorials opined that “it’s alarming that he would have taken on such a case given his appreciation for squalid pictures and videotapes.” Let me get this straight: according to the editors, Kozinski’s material was alarming . . . yet Kozinski’s attitude toward the issue should be “So what?” Hoo-kay.

I interviewed ethics expert Stephen Gillers, who had been quoted in an early L.A. Times story on the Kozinski controversy, and who told me that he thought Kozinski should not be disciplined.

After the paper failed to bury Kozinski with the “porn web site” story, it put out a nothing story about Kozinski’s private e-mail list of people to whom he sends off-color jokes.

THE WAR ON TERROR

This year we got to see how an Arab terrorist’s obituary reads in the L.A. Times: like Arab propaganda.

When computers were seized from FARC terrorists, and their content showed Venezuelan assistance to the terrorists, the paper reported: “No independent confirmation of the laptops’ content has been made . . .” — even though the AP had independently confirmed the laptops’ content. What’s more, information found on the laptops had been successfully used in a raid on a FARC safe house.

The paper’s headlines screamed about Palestinian civilian casualties from an Israeli attack, but saved the context for the 14th paragraph: that civilian casualties were reportedly caused by Hamas’s placement of targets inside civilian areas.

THE IRAQ WAR

When President Bush made a farewell trip to Iraq, the paper predictably emphasized the loss of life there, and downplayed our successes.

ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION

The paper published an unsubtle picture of a young Latina girl crying over a headline: “The Effects of Immigration Raids.”

la-times-on-immigration.JPG
Subtle social commentary from the editors.

But the paper largely ignores the rampant stories of people killed by illegal immigrants who should have been deported, complete with pictures of the victims’ crying survivors.

When examining local issues that relate to overcrowding, the paper never mentions illegal immigration. The paper ran an entire article speculating on the reasons for Los Angeles’s overcrowded emergency rooms — but somehow never mentioned the elephant in the room: illegal immigration. Similarly, an article on the cost of prisons failed even to mention the cost of housing illegals. Another article portrayed deep thinkers thoughtfully scratching their heads as they labored in vain to determine why traffic sucks in Southern California — again never mentioning the obvious factor of millions of illegal immigrants.


Top editors carefully consider the effects of illegal immigration on overcrowded hospitals, prisons, and freeways.

The paper noted that Obama won Western states with help from a large Latino turnout — but editors seemed remarkably incurious as to whether illegal immigrants had played a role in this victory.

At times, it seems like the editors truly don’t understand that illegal immigration is, well, illegal.

The paper tried to convince readers that the federal government was really cracking down on illegal re-entry cases, because the Central District had doubled a miniscule number of prosecutions, making the new number . . . still miniscule.

I was asked by the paper to give a quote on immigration, as part of a feature quoting 40 “prominent Angelenos and Southern Californians.” (That word “prominent” . . . I do not think it means what you think it means.) And the paper interviewed Jack Dunphy on Special Order 40, which interferes with officers’ freedom to target illegal alien criminals.

The paper decried a movement to take DNA from [i]mmigration detainees and others arrested for federal crimes,” quoting a lawyer who said: “A lot of these folks don’t have any crimes other than the fact that they’re here unlawfully.” Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

HOMOSEXUALITY AND GAY MARRIAGE

An anti-gay marriage measure was leading in polls by 19 points. (It later passed.) The L.A. Times told readers that voters “slimly reject” gay marriage; voters “narrowly reject” gay marriage; that voters reject gay marriage by a “small margin” or a “narrow margin” or “a bit”; and that a “bare majority” oppose gay marriage. It took the New York Times to report the gay marriage poll properly.


Above: editors said these percentages were basically the same.

David Savage didn’t get the memo, and described this 19-point margin as a stable majority.

But then, the size of a lead is in the eye of the beholder. There were no such qualifiers when Obama led McCain in California by a mere 7 points — and when Obama led McCain nationally by 12 points, that was described as a “sizable lead.”

(In fairness, the L.A. Times was not alone in misrepresenting statistics this way; TIME Magazine later said that McCain “edged out” Obama on national security when the gap was 20 points.)

The paper lobbied for gay marriage in news articles in other ways, going so far as to publish a piece arguing that gay marriage would be a boon to a slowing economy.

The paper claims to care deeply about precedent for the sake of precedent, when the precedent is Roe — but when it’s an anti-gay precedent, precedent is suddenly less important.

This all revealed bias, to be sure . . . but there were times when incompetence trumped bias — such as when the paper completely failed to report a key court decision declaring “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” unconstitutional.

An article about bias based on sexual orientation bore a headline talking about “sex bias,” which Eugene Volokh called “an outright mischaracterization of what’s going on.”

RACE/POLITICAL CORRECTNESS

It’s seemingly standard policy at many major newspapers to withhold the race of criminal suspects who are black, even if a physical description would help catch the criminals. The L.A. Times proved that it also follows this politically correct and dangerous policy — although it claims not to.

The editors seemed worried that Obama’s election would cause people to think there is no racism. Of course, there still is . . . but the examples they gave to prove it were lame.

I have discussed in previous year-end reviews how the paper tried to lend credibility to the Tennie Pierce case — a lawsuit brought by an Los Angeles firefighter who claimed he had been pranked due to racial discrimination. When a jury found that Pierce had in fact been pranked because he had pranked others — and awarded $1.6 million to two white supervisors who had been scapegoated — the paper refused to take responsibility.

oy-vey.JPG
Tennie Pierce pranks another firefighter, before getting the L.A. Times to support his lawsuit for being pranked himself.

An op-ed told us that most Muslims love women’s rights and hate terrorism, ignoring a mountain of evidence to the contrary.

An L.A. Times blogger thought it was racist to use the phrase “Barack the Magic Negro” — but neglected to mention that the phrase had first been used by a black man . . . in the L.A. Times.

ABORTION

As he does virtually every year, David Savage cried “wolf!” about the highly unlikely prospect of Roe being overturned if McCain were elected.


Above: A little-known portrait of David Savage

When you cry wolf, you have to do it again and again, and Savage was no exception.

THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY

Ed Whelan had an excellent critique of a David Savage article on Bush’s judicial legacy.

The prison crisis in California (caused in part by illegal immigration, as we have seen) is being overseen by three of the most liberal judges on the planet. But the paper couldn’t be bothered to tell readers that all three judges had been appointed by Jimmy Carter.

CRIME

In early January, the paper decided to scale back the Homicide Blog, which also changed hands from the tireless Jill Leovy, who wrote a moving Column One piece about the experience of covering every homicide in L.A. One story covered only in the blogs was a heartbreaking story of a man gunned down as he was bringing home a teddy bear for his two-year-old daughter.

luis-alberto-leon-and-his-daughter.jpg
Luis Albert Leon died getting a teddy bear for his daughter. He was remembered in a blog entry.

There is a war going on in our city, and the paper largely ignores it. So when Hillary Clinton visited Compton — just down the street from where I prosecuted a guy for shooting four kids — she mentioned nothing about the rampant violence in the area, and nobody (including the L.A. Times) said boo.

At least they reported the story when, in March, there were fatal shootings within a block of the Compton courthouse where I work. (Full disclosure: I’m now handling one of those cases.)

Meanwhile, if Britney Spears has so much as a minor fender-bender, it warrants a mention on the paper’s main web page. You couldn’t make up better stuff than this.


Stop the presses! Britney had a fender-bender!

The paper ran a front-page story on Roman Polanski’s bid to have his child molestation case dismissed — but managed not to mention the fact that the 13-year-old victim had alleged that Polanski had sodomized her.

There has been one bright spot in the paper’s crime coverage: the paper has done a good job covering the violence in Mexico relating to turf wars between rival drug cartels. If only the paper could do as good a job covering local crime . . .

ANTI-POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT ATTITUDES

In a perfect example of how the paper reports police uses of force, the paper gave headline space and the lede to the anti law-enforcement view of a suspect’s friend, leaving for later in the story the fact that two disinterested bystanders corroborated the police version of events.

Other newspapers’ reporters might quit to become cops, but at the L.A. Times, they quit to work for the Public Defender. And the paper is quick to attack police mistakes or misconduct, but is stingy in identifying examples of police valor.

In 2004, when an LAPD officer was caught on tape hitting a suspect with a flashlight at the end of a pursuit, Steve Lopez wrote three snarky columns and never tried to get the officer’s side. Years later, in 2008, Lopez finally talked to the officer, and found out that he is actually a good guy. Unfortunately, the officer had long since been fired by LAPD brass responding to a hostile climate that had been fueled in part by Lopez’s one-sided columns.


Steve Lopez: What? You wanted me to do research the first time around??

Lopez was hardly the only anti-law-enforcement offender; Jack Dunphy slammed Tim Rutten on his column about mandating financial disclosure for officers assigned to anti-gang and narcotics units. Jack wasn’t willing to say Rutten didn’t care about the truth — but I was.

Rutten apparently dislikes cops so much that he got angry at the mayor for praising their bravery. Rutten was hardly the only columnist who insulted cops; so did the perennially insipid Al Martinez.

The paper wrote about a case involving an employer’s right to dismiss an employee for physician-recommended marijuana use; Jack Dunphy called the paper’s news story “little more than an editorial slamming the Court’s decision.”

All this anti-law-enforcement sentiment was odd, given that people need police to make the streets safer. After all, the L.A. Times is scared to deliver the paper in Boyle Heights because of the gang problem there.

Oddly, though the editors seem to hate the cop on the street, they love Chief Bratton. Jack Dunphy couldn’t find a story about Bratton’s threatening his enemies by comparing himself to the Mafia chieftain in “The Godfather.”

In an obituary for a federal judge, the paper quoted criticism from anti law-enforcement jerk Stephen Yagman — while omitting several salient details, including the fact that Yagman was a recently convicted felon who was entering prison that very day.

The editors had what sounded like a damning video showing police misconduct. So why didn’t they post it?

DISTORTIONS IN THE EDITORS’ JIHAD AGAINST DNA EVIDENCE

All year, the paper’s editors have been engaged in a holy war against the use of DNA in criminal cases. It started in May, when the newspaper ran an article about statistical probability in cold hit DNA cases, and it was immediately clear that some of the assertions didn’t make sense.


The editors don’t seem to like DNA when it’s used to convict.

For one thing, the article seemed to assert that larger databases made cold hits less reliable, when it would seem that the opposite would be true — at least in cases where the search revealed only one hit. A statistics professor named David Kaye agreed with me on that point. In addition, he told me, the article had falsely portrayed an anti-prosecution view of the statistical question as the consensus view — when, in fact, there is a competing view more favored by peer-reviewed articles. (The author of the L.A. Times article wrote me to claim that he had acknowledged there is a lack of unanimity of opinion, but the article didn’t clearly express this.)

But the biggest error was a flat-out statistical misstatement in the article. Professor Eugene Volokh outlined the problem. I drafted a letter to the article’s authors, and ultimately sent this e-mail about the misstatement. Then I noticed yet another error in the article, again having less to do with the math, and more to do with how the math was expressed in English. Of the three errors I identified, the paper corrected only a trivial arithmetical error, leaving the more significant misstatements standing.

The editors denied they’d made a misstatement, even though they admitted that it would be wrong to make a different statement that my readers overwhelmingly agreed was identical.

Although editors denied that they had described the statistics incorrectly, they did start describing them correctly — which I took as a silent concession that I was right.

But true vindication came when a statistics expert — one whom the paper had previously quoted as an expert — claimed in a scholarly article that the paper had “mischaracterized” the statistic that I had complained about. I once again wrote the Readers’ Representative, citing the expert’s opinion. She didn’t give me the courtesy of a reply.

A second DNA kerfuffle began when the paper ran a front-page story portraying certain matches in an Arizona database as shocking. Why, the paper suggested, the results defied the laws of statistics! Only on the back pages were readers told that most of the matches “were to be expected statistically.” One of the authors of “Freakonomics” later pronounced himself surprised that the matches were largely to be expected; apparently, like many readers, he had been misled by the article’s initial spin.

A local jury freed a clearly guilty man accused of rape; the foreman was heard expressing concerns about the case based on “recent controversies” about DNA — a clear reference to the L.A. Times‘s misleading series of articles.

In discussing a technique called familial searching, the paper did its usual shtick with DNA: it played up phantom privacy concerns, and buried the fact that the technique has been used to free wrongly convicted individuals.

OP-ED AND COLUMNISTS

MICHAEL HILTZIK

Guess who got his column back? That’s right: sock puppeteer Michael Hiltzik. In 2006, the editor had taken it away, saying that Hiltzik’s sock-puppeting dishonesty meant that he could no longer credibly write about corporate duplicity. Guess the new editor disagrees . . .

hiltzik-sock-puppets.jpg
Above: Michael Hiltzik

In making the announcement about Hiltzik, the Readers’ Representative blog mentioned that Hiltzik had been reassigned to Sports in 2006, but never mentioned exactly why. When my commenters tried leaving comments on the Readers’ Rep blog, to explain the mystery, those comments didn’t get approved. [UPDATE 1-3-08: I have since learned that Gold, apparently prompted at least in part by commenters coming from my site, wrote a subsequent post that explained that Hiltzik has “redeemed himself” by writing some articles since his sock puppetry.]

TIM RUTTEN

Tim Rutten — or, as Tim Cavanaugh calls him, the sanctimonious endomorph — continued his past pattern of periodically telling outright lies to readers.

rutten.jpg

Tim Rutten, Sanctimonious Endomorph of the Dishonest Variety

Dick Cheney told an audience: “We do not torture — it’s against our laws and against our values.” Writing about Cheney’s speech, Rutten told readers: “[Cheney] told them that he was glad the administration had tortured people and that he’d do it again.”

Although I agree with the editors about the legal dangers posed by waterboarding, I don’t believe in lying to readers about what a public figure like Cheney has said. I wrote an impassioned and angry letter to the Readers’ Representative, but I knew from past experience that editors would never issue a correction to a Rutten column.

Rutten never seems to understand that such falsehoods are free propaganda for the enemy.

A Patterico reader was motivated to write a letter to the editor about Rutten’s dishonesty. Naturally, the excellent letter was selectively edited to remove the most pointed comment.

I got so fed up with the newspaper’s distortion of the truth that I wrote a satirical column about Tim Rutten in which I employed the paper’s favorite techniques of trickery. The deceptive techniques were explained in detail in this post.

I continued the ridicule later that month, imagining how the paper might use Rutten-style techniques to misreport a Saturday Night Live skit as serious news.

DAVID LAZARUS

The UAW pays people not to work. But at the L.A. Times, columnist David Lazarus was upset that the UAW made any concessions at all — while Dan Neil actively wants the federal government to buy General Motors.

JOEL STEIN

Joel Stein continued his ridiculous series of cries for attention with a column about how he doesn’t love this country.

AL MARTINEZ

Al Martinez, the paper’s most inane columnist, became the paper’s most inane blogger as well. Martinez’s achievement as most inane columnist is quite a feat, given that he works at the same paper as Joel Stein.

al-martinez.jpg
Al Martinez: Did you read his blog entry about his bunions?

STEVE LOPEZ

Steve Lopez continued a career seemingly driven largely by columns deriding the Hummer driven by a local government official.

ROSA BROOKS

Rosa Brooks ignored Democrat complicity in enabling excesses by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and blamed it all on Republicans.

JAMES RAINEY

James Rainey told readers that “nobody” was seeking the re-introduction of the “Fairness Doctrine.” Uh, not quite nobody.

OTHER OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS

Bloggers besides myself had good fun at the expense of some of the paper’s op-ed contributors. The paper had a silly and superficial op-ed mocking General Petraeus’s medals as unfashionable, and iowahawk saw a satire opportunity. And an op-ed about how women are allegedly patronized and silenced by men was ripped apart by Amy Alkon.

JACK DUNPHY

In February, NRO columnist (and occasional Patterico guest blogger) Jack Dunphy returned to the pages of The Times.

PATTERICO

To the paper’s credit, the editors let me participate in a week-long online discussion about the future of the paper, on the paper’s web site. I pulled no punches; the links to the five entries are collected here, complete with some choice quotes.

FINANCIAL WOES AND TRIBUNE’S BANKRUPTCY

In March, Kevin Roderick reported: “The Los Angeles Times has lost more subscribers in the past four years than any U.S. newspaper and it isn’t even close.” But never fear; even if you don’t read the paper, it works great as rabbit bedding.

tribune-chart.GIF
Tribune’s stock performance in better days

As circulation has dropped, the paper itself has gotten smaller and smaller.

And so has the paper’s staff.

In January, editor Jim O’Shea was fired for refusing to make budget cuts. It didn’t change a thing. Massive layoffs happened in July, and the publisher was also dismissed. (The paper lost a good man when Tim Cavanaugh appeared in the list of names of people laid off.) News of the bloodbath continued over several days.

Then, in October, before the paper had a chance to recover from these deep cuts, the paper had more of them. And then more still.

At least editors kept their priorities straight. As the paper was crashing, editors were said to be focused on unearthing the author of the critical web site “Tell Zell” — which, as it happens, hasn’t published anything new since October.

The paper was so financially desperate it started spamming people on behalf of a foreclosure auction service.

The paper is turning to the Web for its future . . . but in October, HotAir.com (a site put out by two bloggers) had almost 1/3 the page views of latimes.com (the Web site of a major newspaper employing hundreds of people).

In December, the paper’s parent company Tribune Corp. filed for bankruptcy, and its stock price lost 94 percent of its value in a single day. The paper soon began discontinuing payments to former staffers.

MISTAKES, WE MAKE MISTAKES

There are bound to be errors in any piece of writing, including this blog post. But the paper’s writers and editors have repeatedly boasted that their standards are far superior to bloggers’ standards, so it’s only fitting for a blogger to point out when they have fallen short.

Certain media outlets were fooled by a phony Facebook entry for Bilawal Bhutto. Some bloggers caught it, even before L.A. Times columnist Rosa Brooks got taken in.

An L.A. Times staffer wrote that George Washington served only one term. The staffer later corrected the error with humor and class.

Ten days after Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, the paper published a Parade Magazine insert asking “Is Benazir Bhutto America’s best hope against al-Qaeda?” Many readers were outraged; apparently they had missed the tiny note on Page A2, where the paper buries all its corrections.

An editorial falsely (and outlandishly) claimed that 60 million people in America survive on $7 a day. This turned out to be propaganda from the World Socialist Web Site.

The paper got fooled by some Iranian fauxtography (with a Photoshopped rocket) and had to issue a correction.

If you have personal familiarity with any aspect of a story that appears in Big Media, you will find an inaccuracy in that story — as I found out in a story about a crash near a Compton airport, which shortened the traditional mile to about 1/6 its usual length. I wrote the Readers’ Rep and obtained a correction that was still wrong — but was closer than before . . .

The paper has a recurring problem with words that sound alike. The paper confused “acclamation” and “acclimation.” Editors also said that an engineer in a train crash had never hit his “breaks.” The paper also made a reference to a “Noble prize-winning” economist.

acclimation.JPG

Above: The editors have trouble with words that sound alike.

In a lead article on the front page, the paper spelled the Republican nominee’s last name as “MCain.”

MISCELLANEOUS

The paper published an embarrassing front-page article criticizing Silda Wall Spitzer for standing next to Eliot Spitzer after he was caught whoring around.

The paper amusingly panned Gladstone’s — a local restaurant that people go to for the view, and not the food — by saying that the food is not good. Duh.

Funnyman Roy Rivenburg mocked the paper with a satirical edition of the paper called Not the L.A. Times. In one entry he claimed that the paper had become a parody of itself — that is, more than usual.

In an e-mail printed on my site, an attorney accused the paper of giving favorable treatment to its former editors, in the paper’s coverage of a scandal involving alleged overbilling by a public relations company. These claims were undercut to some extent by information provided by one of my commenters, but questions remain.

Throughout the U.S. Attorney scandal, I had criticized portions of the L.A. Times coverage of the scandal, while acknowledging problems with the Bush administration’s handling of the matter. A report came out that substantially supported my criticisms of the paper’s coverage.

A review of a book by Sandra Tsing Loh said — again, I swear I’m not making this up — “Loh is a cunning linguist who’s honed her craft over 20 years, and it shows.” Who wrote this review — Seymour Butz? Riffing off an iowahawk bit, I found and published the first draft.

IN CONCLUSION

I hope you enjoyed the post. If you’re interested, I have done five previous annual reviews of the newspaper. The previous annual reviews can be found at these links:

UPDATE: Thanks to Hot Air, Ace, Instapundit, and others for the links.

For posterity, I’ll note that I just added a line about Chuck Philips admitting to me that he had done legal work for Waymond Anderson. I also added the bit about the Sandra Tsing Loh “cunning linguist” book review. Somehow I had missed both points initially.

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Jonathan Adler at The Corner for the link.

UPDATE x3: Thanks to Kevin Roderick and Pejman at Red State for the links.

UPDATE x4 1-3-08: I added a reference to Jamie Gold’s post explaining Hiltzik’s alleged redemption — and also a line about the L.A. Times blogger who thought “Barack the Magic Negro” is a racist phrase, but neglected to mention that it had first been used in the L.A. Times. These happened in 2008 and belong in this Year in Review, even though I learned about them today.

12/31/2007

Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2007

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:22 am



It is time for this blog’s fifth annual review of the performance of the Los Angeles Times, which long-time Patterico readers know as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer. Previous annual reviews can be found at these links:

This year’s installment covers a number of topics, including the 2008 election, the U.S. Attorney scandal, and many others. It summarizes an entire year’s worth of work documenting omissions, distortions, and misrepresentations by this newspaper. The evidence is voluminous, but hopefully entertaining. If you have half as much fun reading this as I did writing it, you’ll enjoy this post considerably.

I hope every new reader who reads this post will bookmark the main page and return often. Bloggers: please blogroll the site if you like it. I’ll be happy to reciprocate the link if I like your site — write me and let me know your URL, and I’ll take a look.

Bloglines subscribers can subscribe by clicking on this button:


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Without further ado, let’s get to the bias:

(more…)

1/2/2007

Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2006

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:35 am



It is time for this blog’s fourth annual review of the performance of the Los Angeles Times, which long-time Patterico readers know as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer. The first annual review was posted here. The second annual review was posted in two parts, here and here. The third annual review was posted here.

This year’s installment covers a number of topics, including the Michael Hiltzik sock-puppetry controversy; the alleged Ramadi airstrike; the paper’s decision to reveal the Swift counterterror program; the firing of the paper’s editor and publisher; the Iraq war and the war on terror; the paper’s shilling for Democrats during the 2006 election; and my decision to cancel the paper — among many others.

This post summarizes an entire year’s worth of work documenting omissions, distortions, and misrepresentations by this newspaper. I have made an effort to document my arguments that this paper is a regular practitioner of liberal bias. As with my previous posts, the proof is voluminous. As a consequence, don’t feel that you need to read the entire post in one sitting. Feel free to bookmark it and return to it in the coming days, browsing through the categories as they interest you.

I hope every new reader who reads this post will bookmark the main page and return often. Bloggers: please blogroll the site if you like it. I’ll be happy to reciprocate the link if I like your site — write me and let me know your URL, and I’ll take a look.

Bloglines subscribers can subscribe by clicking on this button:

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Without further ado, let’s get to the bias:

(more…)

12/31/2005

Patterico’s Los Angeles Dog Trainer Year in Review 2005

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Year in Review — Patterico @ 4:40 pm



It is time for this blog’s third annual review of the performance of the Los Angeles Times, which long-time Patterico readers know as the Los Angeles Dog Trainer. The first annual review was posted here. The second annual review was posted in two parts, here and here, and resulted in one of the proudest moments I have had as a blogger: being featured in a Day by Day cartoon.

This year’s installment will cover familiar topics, such as general anti-Republican and pro-Democrat bias, culture wars issues, and media coverage. It will also cover events specific to the year, with a heavy emphasis on judicial confirmation battles, the war in Iraq and the war on terror, and other miscellaneous issues.

This post summarizes an entire year’s worth of work documenting omissions, distortions, and misrepresentations by this newspaper. When someone truly takes the time to provide specific examples of liberal bias in the news media, the result can be voluminous, and this post is no exception. Feel free to bookmark it and return to it in the coming days, browsing through the categories as they interest you.

I hope every new reader who reads this post will bookmark the main page and return often. Bloggers: please blogroll the site if you like it. I’ll be happy to reciprocate the link if I like your site — write me and let me know your URL, and I’ll take a look.

Bloglines subscribers can subscribe by clicking on this button:

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Also, anyone who appreciates the work put into this post is welcome to drop me a few bucks by clicking on the PayPal button at the bottom right-hand corner of the page. I appreciate it very much, and I will write you personally to thank you.

Without further ado, on to the bias:

(more…)

6/17/2019

Another Ridiculous Headline Previewing a Weak Analysis

Filed under: General — JVW @ 7:34 pm



[guest post by JVW]

Here is how some (yes, you guessed it) academic chose to commemorate in today’s Washington Post the 25th anniversary of O.J. Simpson’s wild ride down the 405 Freeway:

OJ Headline

At first I determined that the headline (which I saw on Twitter) was so dumb that I wouldn’t read the accompanying essay, but I remembered what I wrote about George Skelton last week with respect to opinion writers not writing their own headlines, so I decided to give it a go. I was not impressed with the argument of the author, a Media Studies Professor at Quinnipiac University named Phillip Lamarr Cunningham. Here is the gist of it, so that you don’t have to waste your time reading it yourself:

To suggest that Simpson overshadowed a decade’s worth of goodwill toward black athletes would be an overstatement. But Simpson, arguably a major source of this goodwill, certainly made clear the conditions white Americans put on their goodwill, even as the nation’s greatest black athletes continued to thrill and amaze.

Those crazy white folks: rescinding their approbation and respect just because you go and do a silly old thing like slaughter your ex-wife and her co-worker.

Prof. Cunningham’s thesis just gets more murky from there. He travels through the history of white America’s disapproval of “militant” black athletes such as Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jim Brown, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos, before contrasting them with former Heisman Trophy winner Simpson, the first NFL running back to run for 2,000 yards in a single regular season. He complains that Simpson’s commercial appeal “did not lift up other black athletes in the 1970s and early 1980s,” having apparently never heard of Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Reggie Jackson, or Walter Payton, and being completely unaware of the famous Mean Joe Greene Coca-Cola commercial, which in my recollection played about 22 times per televised game for the next seven years.

Prof. Cunningham admits that by the end of the 1980s there were plenty of black athletes who served as effective pitch men to white America, naming Deion Sanders, Bo Jackson, and, of course, Michael Jordan. But he complains that these athletes, Jordan especially, had to avoid political topics in order to thrive:

It’s not clear whether Jordan really said “Republicans wear sneakers, too” as a rationale for not supporting Gantt. But we do know that Jordan, like Simpson, was disinclined to fight overt battles against racism.

Hard to believe that white America wasn’t keen on having multi-millionaire jocks recite the catechism of oppression that is formulated and promulgated by the leftist academia/media alliance so dominant in our modern culture. But nevermind that. Prof. Cunningham declares that the day O.J. became the prime suspect in the murder was a watershed for the black athlete:

The chase not only disrupted the NBA Finals — it also unsettled the comfort white Americans had developed for black athletes. For years, black athletes, and Simpson in particular, were held up as signs of the progress made toward bridging America’s racial divide. That night, however, he served as a stark reminder of how conditional that comfort was.

Again, killing two people in cold blood is sadly going to lower your Q rating. But I was around in 1994, and among the most popular athletes of that era, I recall the following: Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Deion Sanders, Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Kirby Puckett, Tony Gwynn, Ken Griffey Jr., Michael Johnson, Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and of course, the king of them all, Michael Jordan. By the end of the decade, the only challenge to Jordan’s throne would come from a young golfer named Tiger Woods. So much for the idea that the arrest of Simpson made businesses reluctant to use black athletes as spokespeople.

Prof. Cunningham’s summation is that “[t]he means by which Simpson won over America,” which he earlier described as presenting a friendly apolitical demeanor, “are antiquated, especially in an era in which black athletes such as Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James not only have embraced social justice but also have convinced their leagues and sponsors to do so as well (to an extent).” It’s telling that Prof. Cunningham lauds one player who hasn’t been on the field for three seasons due in part to what a large segment of the public believes is shallow grandstanding, and another player who has downscaled his commercial endorsements in order to concentrate on more traditional business interests.

But hey, as usual this is somehow the fault of white society and our failure to fully embrace the complexity of the black athlete. It’s as if social justice academics are just halfheartedly going through the motions these days.

– JVW

2/17/2013

Patterico.com Turns Ten Years Old Today

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:30 am



This blog began ten years ago today, on February 17, 2003, with this rather uninspiring post:

WELCOME MESSAGE: Welcome to Patterico’s Pontifications. This is destined to be the hottest blog since that one put out by that guy. You know who I mean.

Since then, I have had a run of luck beyond my wildest dreams. This blog has broken national stories, which have been cited in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, among other Big Media rags. Stories published here have been featured on national TV news networks and discussed by late-night comedians. I have published op-eds in the Los Angeles Times. The blog has broken a story that contributed to the downfall of a Congressman, published another national story that got a Big Media journalist reassigned, defended a federal judge against misleading accusations, and appeared on radio programs all across the country.

Most of these stories, I hasten to add, were based on tips from readers. Meaning it wasn’t really me who was responsible. It was you guys.

I’ve gotten to meet wonderful people through the blog — including guest bloggers, readers and commenters, other bloggers, and writers and other personalities I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet. Thanks to the blog, I met and became acquainted with Andrew Breitbart and many of his friends. I have gotten to hang out with people who have written or starred in some of my favorite movies; learned the identity of (and hung out with) talented undercover cop writers; met fearless journalists and talented novelists; and just had a fabulous time.

Over the years, I have amassed 723,852 comments, made on 16,566 posts, and 33,267,955 page views.

I’ve also experienced harassment of my wife and children; publication of my home address and pictures of my home; threats of violence and death; State Bar complaints; Google bombing of my name and job title coupled with scurrilous accusations; numerous lawsuit threats; one lawsuit filing, numerous workplace complaints . . . and I have been SWATted — all for expressing my views.

Hey, nobody said life was all peaches and cream. (Which is fine, because I don’t particularly care for peaches and cream.)

But on this 10th anniversary of the blog, I wanted to highlight some favorite posts of mine from the last ten years. I’m hoping that many of these posts are going to be new to recent readers. My favorite posts tend to give the reader something unique, whether it’s original journalism breaking national stories, exposing of tendentious media bias, or just some personal observations about my family and life in general.

This post can’t possibly be comprehensive, or it would be too long. This is just a collection of a few of my favorite posts from the last ten years.

I hope you enjoy them.

THE DOG TRAINER YEAR IN REVIEW

I probably became best known for my scathing year-end reviews of the Los Angeles Times, which I used to call the “Los Angeles Dog Trainer” — a term stolen from Harry Shearer. I stopped doing this review after 2009, in part because the paper seemed less relevant, and in part because in 2009 I was transferred to a new and very demanding unit in my office, and I soon found that I could no longer muster the time and energy to do a Year in Review.

Nevertheless, I have toyed with the idea of doing a 2010-2013 roundup, and possibly a round-up of the top stories from ten years of L.A. Times bashing.

Here are the links to past Years in Review:

(By the way, if you have trouble getting links in older posts to work, go here for tips on how to deal with that problem.)

THE GINSBURG CONTROVERSY (MARCH 2004)

I believe the first national story I broke on this blog was about Justice Ginsburg giving a speech to the National Organization for Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, days after ruling on a case in which that organization had filed an amicus brief. Justice Scalia had come under fire for supposedly speaking to a group that had a case pending before the Supreme Court, and I believed that the news media should give equal time to a liberal Justice doing the same thing.

I broke the story in this March 7, 2004 post, telling readers that I had informed the L.A. Times about it. They ran this front-page story on March 11, 2004. I registered my shock in this post. The episode ended up being discussed in a book by Dan Gillmor,

MICHAEL HILTZIK SOCK PUPPETRY (APRIL 2006)

In 2006 I learned that an L.A. Times business columnist was sock puppeting on my blog and on his blog at the L.A. Times. I revealed the evidence in a post titled Three in One: Michael Hiltzik, Mikekoshi, and Nofanofcablecos. Hiltzik confessed, his blog was suspended — and the story went national.

GLENN GREENWALD’S SOCK PUPPETRY (JULY 2006)

In some ways arguably the most epic post I have ever written, my post exposing Glenn Greenwald’s sock puppetry relied heavily on the Wuzzadem sock puppets to carry the narrative. It is still cited constantly and I’m often told it is among my readers’ favorite posts.

MY INTERVIEW WITH STASHIU (OCTOBER 2006)

One of my favorite sets of blog posts was an interview I did with Stashiu, a Gitmo psych nurse who regularly spoke with some of the worst terrorists in the world. Stashiu talked to me for hours about Guantanamo, and the piece has held up over the years — and Stashiu has been a reliable friend of the blog ever since. My interview with Stashiu was published in five parts:

Part One: Introduction. Stashiu tells us about a terrorist who threatened to a) have Zarqawi (who was then still alive) cut off the heads of Stashiu’s family while he watched — and then b) cut off Stashiu’s head.

Part Two: Stashiu arrives at GTMO, and tells us what the terrorists are like.

Part Three: Hunger strikes, suicides and suicide attempts, and mental illness. Stashiu opines that the suicides were a political act.

Part Four: Treatment of the detainees, and the detainees’ treatment of guards. Also, desecration of the Koran — but by whom?

Part Five: Stashiu reacts to Big Media pieces about GTMO.

THE KOZINSKI MATERIALS (JUNE 2008)

In June 2008 the L.A. Times revealed that Judge Alex Kozinski had placed bawdy material on a web server accessible by the public. I obtained the material and published it in multiple posts. I revealed that it was generally humorous material, and that one of the most inflammatory accusations, that he had a video of “bestiality,” was nothing of the sort. I also published a letter from his wife which was cited in the Associated Press and other publications, and was widely credited for helping reverse the tide of opinion against him.

An admission that Cyrus Sanai made to me that his complaint against Kozinski was part of a “litigation strategy” was cited by the Ninth Circuit — with a citation to the URL of my post and everything! (Incidentally, that decision represented the second time that this blog affected the contents of a Ninth Circuit opinion. The first occurred in May 2004, and was described here.)

FAKE DOCTOR ROXANA MAYER (AUGUST 2009)

Thanks to a tip from a reader, this blog uncovered evidence that there was a phony pro-Obama operative at a 2009 town hall meeting on health care reform. A “Dr. Roxana Mayer” in a white physician’s coat claimed to be a pediatrician, and spoke up in favor of health care reform — but this blog revealed evidence that she was a fake. I wrote her and confronted her with the evidence and she admitted it.

As a result of this story, which received over 100,000 page views in a single day, this blog was mentioned on Hannity. Unfortunately, the clip appears to be lost to posterity.

SOCK PUPPET ELLIE LIGHT (JANUARY 2010)

In 2010, a campaign of blatant Astroturfing appeared in publications around the country, with the same pro-Obama letters appearing in countless publications under different names. I added to the evidence here, here, here, and here.

Michelle Malkin, one of my favorite people in the world whom I have never met, mentioned this blog on Hannity (fast forward to 4:25):

WEINERGATE (JUNE 2011)

I blogged quite a bit on Weinergate, but the posts of mine that advanced the ball the most were posts about his communications with a real-life underage girl, here, here, and here. I later learned that these posts played a key role in his decision to resign.

SWATTING AND BRETT KIMBERLIN CONTROVERSY (MAY 2012)

One of the oddest things that has happened to me is undergoing a pattern of harassment from a set of crazed trolls surrounding Brett Kimberlin. As I was experiencing this harassment, I was SWATted — something I can’t prove is connected, but which seemed to be. Enjoy the short version of the story — and then bookmark the long version, which is very dense and truly repays repeated readings.

MISCELLANEOUS POSTS

I am proud of work I did on the Roman Polanski extradition, the U.S. Attorney firings, exposing government overreaching in the prosecution of James O’Keefe, my posts on Chuck Philips (especially the ones dealing with Anita Busch), my Deport the Criminals First series, the SWIFT terrorist financing program, and my campaign against Proposition 66, the initiative to weaken the Three Strikes law.

BIG MEDIA CITATIONS AND APPEARANCES

In February 2005, less than two years after I started the blog, I published an op-ed in the L.A. Times that savaged the L.A. Times for the way they bury corrections of significant errors. The piece was called The Correct Way to Fix Mistakes. I wrote another op-ed in August 2005, about the way the paper had lionized Cindy Sheehan while papering over her omissions, contradictions, and disturbing radicalism.

In 2007 I was invited to participate in an online debate with liberal Marc Cooper about the future of the paper, at the L.A. Times web site. The feature was called a “Dust-Up” and the five entries are collected here.

This blog has been cited in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other outlets. (I don’t think it has been read by Russ Feingold on the floor of the Senate, so sock-puppetin’ Glenn Greenwald still has that on me. Good day, sir!)

I have been on the radio more than I deserve.

My radio appearances started with Clint Taylor, who was doing a show at a student-run station out of Stanford.

Once, in February 2008, my father-in-law was driving to work in Kentucky, and was taken aback to hear me on NPR, talking about how I was likely to vote for John McCain even though I thought he was a horrible candidate. (When you listen to that clip and hear that I was pulling for Romney, please remember that he was running against McCain, whom I have always, always hated.)

I talked SWATting on local station KABC with my pal John Phillips in November 2012. I was on KFI during drive time in June 2006, talking about the SWIFT terror financing program, on a day when Michelle Malkin filled in for John and Ken.

I appeared on the local public radio show “Which Way, L.A.?” with Warren Olney twice. The second time was in July 2008, to discuss my L.A. Times “Dust-Ups” with Marc Cooper. The first was in June 2008, when Eugene Volokh and I tore L.A. Times reporter Scott Glover to shreds for his misleading coverage of the contents of Judge Alex Kozinski’s web server.

I had the honor of appearing on the Stage Right Show with Larry O’Connor, including this March 2010 show where I mocked Brett Kimberlin’s business partner Brad Friedman, and got to talk to my commenter and pal daleyrocks. Larry O’Connor pretended to be Friedman on that show, which was a riot. I was on the Stage Right Show a month earlier, in February 2010, also on the same show as Friedman. That one was great because Andrew Breitbart called in to help me yell at Brad.

I have made several appearances on Pundit Review Radio, which was broadcast on WRKO in Boston. In a July 2006 appearance I discussed the SWIFT program targeting terrorist financing. In a November 2006 appearance I discussed a story where I proved that the L.A. Times had misreported details about an alleged airstrike in Ramadi. And in an October 2005 appearance I discussed my opposition to the Harriet Miers nomination, in which I played a fairly active role.

I appeared on CQ Radio with Captain Ed Morrissey on several occasions, including a March 2007 appearance discussing the U.S. Attorney firings, an April 2007 appearance discussing Alberto Gonzales, a November 2007 appearance discussing election politics and Tim Rutten, and a December 2007 appearance discussing my year-end review of the L.A. Times.

In March 2009 I was on the Northern Alliance Radio Network with Captain Ed and Mitch Berg.

I even went on a show called “Hoist the Black Flag” with Ace and Jeff Goldstein — in April 2006 and July 2006, to discuss the Hiltzik story.

I have also had radio personalities read my stuff on the air. Before he got into an insane feud with me for calling him out on some misstatements he had made, Mark Levin read my stuff. Rush Limbaugh read from my Cindy Sheehan L.A. Times op-ed in October 2005, and from a DRJ post on Obama’s tax plan in October 2008.

ENDORSEMENTS

I have some favorite quotes about me from people over the years, but the one I will never forget is from Tony Snow, who once commented:

Thanks for the wonderful write-up. It’s always fun visiting the belly of the beast. Meanwhile, keep up the great work. Love the blog.

“Love the blog.” Tony Snow said he loved the blog! Awesome. Of course, the post about his appearance on Bill Maher is probably the only entry he ever read, but still. Pretty cool. (He actually left a second comment about an hour later, responding to a Bill Maher sock puppet. But the Tony Snow comments were for real.)

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS

My dad died in 2005. He used to read my blog every day. I remembered him here. After he left, I dreamed about him, and this post about one particularly vivid dream remains one of my favorites. I have wished him a happy birthday every March 17 since the blog started. It’s hard to imagine that he was reading the blog for fewer than three of the last ten years.

But possibly my favorite post from this blog is one about not taking things for granted. It’s a post I wrote as the one-year anniversary of my dad’s death was coming up, and I guess it made me reflect. Anyway, that post is the only one I’ll quote at length here.

In the post, I talked about a night that we took our infant daughter to an acoustic concert, hoping she would sleep through it. If she cried, the plan was for me to take her to the car, where I would watch her for half the concert, and then call my wife out to sit for the second half. I never called her, but spent the whole concert in the car watching my daughter sleep. I wrote:

The night it happened, I didn’t mind being in the car with my daughter. But if I could go back now, there’s no question that I would want to be there.

Not only would I stay in the car with her — I would make the most of the experience, realizing that I had a precious chance to see her at that age again. I would try to commit every moment to memory.

And then I realized: some day, years in the future, I might be asking the same question about my life today — this very minute. If you could have this moment back to live over again, what would you do?

The rest of that evening, I pictured myself as having been sent into my body from the future, to relive the moments I was experiencing. And I saw everything differently. I sat on the couch and watched television with my arm around my wife — all the while imagining myself as an old man, transported back in time to relive that moment. And all of a sudden, what otherwise might have seemed like a mundane moment seemed like a privilege. I felt like the luckiest guy in the world, just sitting there with my wife.

I’ve tried the trick all weekend, and it really changes your outlook. Just sitting around with a sleepy child in your arms is great any way you look at it. But if you picture yourself as someone whose child has grown up — if you imagine yourself as an older man, who would give the world to be back in that chair with that child in his arms — it makes you realize how important the moment is. And you appreciate it more.

Even when times are tough — or seem tough — keeping this perspective in mind can help change the way you look at your life.

Thanks for spending part of the last ten years with me. I hope you keep reading.

UPDATE: A special thanks to all the guest bloggers who have helped me during the years, including DRJ, Karl, Jack Dunphy, JD, Aaron Walker, Morgen Richmond, WLS, Justin Levine, Dafydd ab Hugh, See Dubya, The Angry Clam, Xrlq, Teflon Don, Charlie (Colorado), and several others. You kept things going when I couldn’t, and contributed many worthwhile posts.

12/31/2009

Happy New Year 2010

Filed under: Current Events — DRJ @ 9:45 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

New Year’s wishes go to our Eastern Time Zone and foreign friends, but it won’t be long until everyone will be celebrating in 2010. And check back soon for Patterico’s 2009 LA Dog Trainer Year-in-Review.

— DRJ

8/24/2008

Meet the Newest L.A. Times Book Reviewer: Seymour Butz

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 11:09 am



Sigh. The kids really are in charge at the Los Angeles Dog Trainer nowadays.

A (favorable) review of a book by Sandra Tsing Loh contains the following actual line, which I am not making up:

Loh is a cunning linguist who’s honed her craft over 20 years, and it shows.

(My emphasis — which is hardly needed.)

Well, it probably got a chuckle from Sam Zell.

The review is by Mike Hunt Hugh Jass Amanda Huginkiss Susan Carpenter.

UPDATE: I found the first draft of the book review! You can read it here.

UPDATE x2: More from Amy Alkon. Also, Todd Everett apparently saw this before I did. Also, he is terribly disappointed with the lack of maturity you all have shown. (I don’t think he’d be very happy with the first draft linked in the initial update!)

UPDATE x3: The L.A. Times seems quite pleased with the buzz. I guess, to them, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

12/31/2006

Year In Review Late This Year

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:39 pm



The Dog Trainer Year in Review post is traditionally published on December 31. Not this year. Things have been too busy.

It’s coming along, though. Expect it in the upcoming week. It should be a good one.

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