First — even taking into account Hiltzik’s jaw-dropping analogy of me and other conservative critics to Stalinist apparatchiks — probably the most insulting thing about his posts is the insufferably haughty attitude he displays towards Patterico readers. If you enjoyed my Year in Review post about the Los Angeles Times, then you are, without exception, uncritical readers choosing to wallow in your own ignorance:
Patrick Frey’s end-of-the-year gloss on the L.A. Times’s ostensible sins of bias, cited in my post yesterday, goes on for many screens; I assume that the members of his personal choir have been devoting close scrutiny to the indictment. Uncritical readers, wishing to have their ignorant preconceptions reinforced without straining a brain cell, are no doubt gobbling it up. Those seeking serious commentary and analysis on the role and performance of the press will more likely abandon it in mid-course, on the principle that life is too short to waste on such flapdoodle.
What breathtaking arrogance. And how unfortunately typical of someone who works at the Los Angeles Times.
The idea that intelligent readers of the paper might actually agree with many or most of my criticisms is a possibility that Hiltzik is simply unwilling to entertain.
His attitude is, unfortunately, reflective of a huge group of people working for this newspaper. For proof, you need only open up their newspaper on any given day. Only those who agree with their leftist outlook of the world qualify for respect in their eyes. And people like you? They see you as uninformed chumps. You’re willfully, comfortably ignorant rubes.
Also, I have another observation about Hiltzik’s pal Chuck Philips, and the relevance of the accusation that Philips was on Suge Knight’s payroll.
I have said before that I found strange and puzzling Philips’s insistence on portraying as credible the recantation of witness Kevin Hackie in the Notorious B.I.G. trial. After all, Hackie stated repeatedly that he feared for his life, and people who cross Suge Knight historically have good reason to fear for their lives. Why did Philips write the story as if Hackie’s recantation was clearly credible, and his earlier statements clearly untrue, when that conclusion is by no means obvious?
With the publication of the article I linked to, we have an answer that makes sense: because one of the things Hackie recanted was a pretrial accusation that Philips was on Suge Knight’s payroll. If someone makes an accusation that serious about you, it stands to reason that you are going to want to see that witness discredited. If he recants his statement, you want his recantation to be believed. Under these circumstances, you can no longer be an objective reporter covering this story. You have a stake in how this witness comes across — because it affects you personally.
Once it became clear that Hackie had made these accusations about Philips, Philips had no business covering that trial anymore — in my opinion. He simply had too much of a vested interest in portraying a crucial plaintiff’s witness’s pretrial statements as incredible, and portraying that witness’s recantation at trial as credible.
Critically, the conflict of interest is there regardless of the truth of the allegation. It is the fact that the allegation was made that creates the conflict. Of course it would be worse if the accusation turned out to be true. But even assuming that the allegation is untrue — which I do, for the sake of this post — the fact that it was made to begin with creates a conflict of interest.
Who bears the fault for the fact that Philips continued to cover the trial, despite this conflict of interest? I don’t know, because I don’t know if Philips disclosed the conflict to his editors. I don’t remember reading about the accusation in the L.A. Times — but I’ll admit that I don’t know for sure whether it ever appeared in the paper’s pages or not.
So now that Michael Hiltzik has sanctimoniously declared that I have “zero” credibility because I had the audacity to link a story reporting Hackie’s accusation, Hiltzik should tell us whether Philips reported the accusation himself. Especially if Philips kept that little tidbit under wraps — and arguably even if he didn’t — Hiltzik should explain whether he sees a conflict of interest in a reporter’s covering the testimony of a witness whose testimony includes an accusation that the reporter is corrupt.
And with that, I am going to do my best to take my leave of Michael Hiltzik and his toothless criticisms of me and my blog. At a certain point, too much back-and-forth bores readers, and I think I’ve made my points.
Show trial’s over, folks. You can all go home now.
P.P.S. It has come to my attention that some people don’t realize I already responded to Hiltzik at great length, in another post. You can read it here.