Patterico's Pontifications


Wondering When We’ll Get a Correction about the “Ambivalent” Activist

Filed under: Dog Trainer,Immigration — Patterico @ 6:47 am

I’ve been wondering when we’re going to get a correction to that story about the activist against the Sensenbrenner bill whom the L.A. Times described as “ambivalent on immigration reform.” After four days of watching the story go uncorrected, I couldn’t help myself. So I wrote the Readers’ Representative, Jamie Gold, to ask what’s up:


Re: A Job Americans Won’t Do, Even at $34 an Hour, by David Streitfeld, May 18


I can’t be the first person to write you about this, but I am nevertheless curious to know if and when this story is going to be corrected. The offending line:

Smallwood is ambivalent on immigration reform, saying demands for immediate citizenship by those who entered the country illegally are offensive.

As you must certainly know by now, Cyndi Smallwood, the employer described in the article, is anything but “ambivalent” about immigration reform. As Michelle Malkin recently wrote:

[A] simple Google search shows that Cyndi Smallwood is president of the Orange County chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association, and is a member of the association’s “Immigration Task Force.” The activist group opposes the “Punitive Immigration Reform Bill Proposed by Rep. Sensenbrenner.”

Conor Friedersdorf documented Ms. Smallwood’s activism and concluded:

If traveling to Washington DC to lobby for a trade association, planting pro-guest worker program quotes in multiple press outlets and backing a specific faction in the immigration reform debate is considered ambivalence on immigration reform I’d like to see the Times version of an activist!

Again, I can’t be telling you anything you don’t already know. This has been featured on Kausfiles, L.A. Observed, and Michelle Malkin, at a minimum. It is impossible that the editors are unaware that the story gravely misrepresented Ms. Smallwood’s position on illegal immigration. I assume that the misrepresentation was unintentional on the paper’s part, yet it was very significant and highly convenient for the story. It bolstered the credibility of Ms. Smallwood’s laughable (and since debunked) assertion that she could not find American citizens to do landscaping at $34 an hour. Had the reporter dug up the appropriate facts, there would have been a very different story, or perhaps no story at all.

Here’s what I’m curious about: all of this information came out on Friday, and here it is, Tuesday morning, and yet I see no correction to the story. If there has been one, it doesn’t show up in searches using the paper’s search engine, or appear appended to the original story.

I assume the paper must be working on a correction. When can we expect to see it?

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey
Patterico’s Pontifications

In complaining about the fact that no correction has issued for four days, I suppose that I may sound like the media equivalent of the small child in the back of the car who says: “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” And I may well get back a response that is the polite equivalent of: “We’ll get there when we get there!”

But it seems to me that instant online publishing has reduced the reading public’s patience for corrections that take days to issue. It was clear on Friday that this story was flawed. Perhaps the paper is still investigating the full extent of Ms. Smallwood’s deception — but if that’s the case, they could post a brief note saying so. In the old days, maybe we would have stood still for the lumbering-dinosaur practice of issuing corrections a week or more after the original error. I’m not so sure we are willing to wait so long any more.

As always, I’ll let you know what I hear back.

15 Responses to “Wondering When We’ll Get a Correction about the “Ambivalent” Activist”

  1. Patterico,

    Jaime would have gotten back to you immediately; however, she’s been busy trying to sign up new subscribers at my Vons in Burbank.

    Please bear with her, as people in her department are now charged with shoring up the circ numbers they have cost the paper.

    chris (be49db)

  2. The most innocent interpretation I can think of is that the reporter was rushing to meet a deadline, and didn’t take the time to check out his source.

    [Because this story couldn’t wait even one more day! — Patterico]

    Three questions for the Times:

    How did the reporter learn about Smallwood?

    Did he know about her affiliations and activism while writing the story?

    Has he ever heard of Google?

    Bradley J. Fikes (e619fc)

  3. This is how it will be:

    1. Kevin Roderick at LA Observed will write a second, more detailed post about the Smallwood controversy.

    2. Romenesko will link to the LA Observed item.

    3. Howard Kurtz will weigh in.

    4. One or more talk radio/cable shout shows will chime in.

    Finally, one of the Spring St. brass hats will notice that they’ve been caught in a blatant example of agenda journalism, and it is not going to blow over.

    A brief correction will run in “For the Record.”

    Dennis Mosher (3c120f)

  4. 3. Howard Kurtz will weigh in.

    Kurtz mentioned the controversy in today’s web column.

    Al (09b2d3)

  5. Kurtz also followed on the imploding Jason Leopold pseudoscoop on Karl Rove.

    Bradley J. Fikes (b2f6ce)

  6. Shouldn’t your statement read “Michelle Malkin, who is ambivalent on immigration reform, recently wrote:…” Based on the LAT’s new definition of “ambivalent”.

    Lew Clark (b58490)

  7. You mean, of course, IF you ever hear back.

    RightNumberOne (11dd90)

  8. Patterico – I don’t think it’s that this story couldn’t wait a day, but I can imagine that the paper needs [n] amount of news articles in a day, and if this story is delayed, someone has to come up with something else to fill the press, so there’s strong pressure not to delay the story.

    We have similar pressures in the software industry, where we constantly ship things that aren’t ready because, well, *something* has to ship.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  9. In the news business, it’s called “feeding the beast”. Not that it’s an excuse, especially for a newspaper with the Times’ resources.

    Bradley J. Fikes (7664b4)

  10. Patterico – I don’t think it’s that this story couldn’t wait a day, but I can imagine that the paper needs [n] amount of news articles in a day, and if this story is delayed, someone has to come up with something else to fill the press, so there’s strong pressure not to delay the story.

    The Times holds on to articles for weeks sometimes. They did not need to rush this to press, and it’s no excuse.

    Patterico (50c3cd)

  11. […] The L.A. Times won’t be issuing any correction or clarification regarding the story of Cyndi Smallwood, the allegedly “ambivalent on immigration reform” entrepreneur who is actually an activist against the Sensenbrenner bill. Recall that, this morning, I wrote Readers’ Representative Jamie Gold about this issue, quoting extensively from sites that had uncovered the extent of Smallwood’s activism. The Readers’ Rep has replied to my e-mail as follows: Thanks for sending me links to websites that include others’ interpretations of the Times article from last week. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times Will Not Correct or Clarify the Story About the “Ambivalent” Activist (421107)

  12. … but I can imagine that the paper needs [n] amount of news articles in a day, and if this story is delayed, someone has to come up with something else to fill the press …

    Actually, it’s the opposite: they have many more stories than they can use. Kill any story, and the one in line behind it will step up.

    In addition, the editors meet every day to decide (argue about) which stories deserve the glory of page 1 placement. This story received much more editorial scrutiny than than it have if it were thrown in the California section or page A17.

    Dennis Mosher (3c120f)

  13. I wouldn’t take a landscaping job at $34 an hour either, especially after reading an article on ‘schoolteachers’ ( K-12) average salaries and the fact they only work 9 months a year but are paid 12 months a year. Who would want to do slave labor for $34 an hour when they can lounge around in heated air conditioned offices and make $31 an hour + all benefits. A quick look at the failed school systems will show they are not the ‘dedicated/educated’ people they are supposed to be either. LMAO By the way i have worked in landscaping for the family business for a lot less than $34 an hour and it ain’t easy.

    Scrapiron (9f37aa)

  14. Why does my employer (Los Angeles Times) continue publishing articles with only half the facts? Is it any wonder circulation continues falling.


    Edward Padgett (33c422)

  15. Maybe with food stamps and diapers, it weighs in at $34.

    Vermont Neighbor (a9ae2c)

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