Patterico's Pontifications

3/19/2007

The “Readers’ Representative” Responds — And So Do I

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:57 pm



Here is the response I received from the “Readers’ Representative” to my recent e-mail regarding the paper’s recent misleading article on the firing of Carol Lam:

Thanks for the note. The article does not make a reference, as you suggest, to when the administration “initially” targeted Lam. Earlier Times stories have made clear that the administration had plans to fire some, if not all, attorneys general; the L.A. Times front-page article on March 14, 2007 says that in January 2005 some in the administration had “settled on plan” to push out some, though they had initially discussed firing all of them. So, though you cite a “working list,” it is evident that the thoughts on whom to cut changed quite a bit between January 2005 and December 2006.

The March 15 Times article was not written in order to “suggest that the Bush Administration targeted Lam due to her investigation of Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham,” as you state. The article reports the links that the Democrats are raising between Lam’s being fired, and the investigations into both Lewis and Cunningham. Those links, according to what has been uncovered (including what was reported in today’s story), seemed to grow stronger after the Cunningham case began.

Jamie Gold
Readers’ Representative

And here is the response I just sent her:

Jamie,

The central issue in the article was whether Lam was targeted over the Cunningham investigation, and the investigations that grew out of it. The article tells readers that Lam was on a list of targeted U.S. Attorneys in April 2006, which is after Cunningham had pled guilty. Yet it completely fails to inform readers that Lam was initially targeted before the Cunningham investigation ever started.

An analogy illustrates the point. Mrs. Smith sues her boss, alleging that her boss fired her for becoming pregnant. At trial, it emerges that Mrs. Smith’s name appeared on two lists of people to be fired. List #1 was created well before Mrs. Smith even thought about becoming pregnant. List #2 was created after Mrs. Smith announced her pregnancy.

The L.A. Times reports: “it emerged today that Mrs. Smith’s boss put her on a list of people to be fired after she announced she was pregnant.”

An incensed Patterico writes complaining that the article omitted any mention of the first list. And Jamie Gold responds by saying: “Well, we didn’t specifically say that the list we mentioned was the initial list!”

The article in question would leave any reasonable reader with the impression that the Bush Administration had no problem with Lam until the Cunningham and Lewis investigations came along. And that’s just flatly wrong. I’m sorry you don’t see that.

Yours truly,

Patrick Frey

P.S. I also sent her a note about Bud Cummins’s claim that the paper misrepresented his statements in a recent interview. No word yet on that, but Ms. Gold does generally get back to me. When I hear something, you’ll hear something.

6 Responses to “The “Readers’ Representative” Responds — And So Do I”

  1. Have you ever thought of taking up juggling or maybe plate twirling? Keeping up with the LA Times’ mistakes has a lot in common with those activities.

    DRJ (53e939)

  2. It seems you get replies, but not responses.

    JohnS (e28e82)

  3. That’s an incisive observation.

    Patterico (04465c)

  4. The important thing here is that bosses should not fire women for getting pregnant. Why is no one discussing this important issue?

    Kevin (e89cee)

  5. It was the bosses wife but not his child though Kevin 🙂

    Lord Nazh (d282eb)

  6. In my experience, reader’s representatives aren’t that. They are actually employees of newspapers who tend to mostly serve as its apologists. If newspapers really wanted to address reader’s concerns in an honest manner, they would institute what they would undoubtedly expect of any other organization as a test of credibility; independent outside investigators. Just as companies must have their books audited by outside auditors based on commonly held standards, there could be independent accuracy auditors that they would contract with who would apply common standards to reader’s complaints.

    Jeff Sanders (1c6fc7)


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