[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]
On Thursday, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez asked readers to submit candidates for a list of “L.A.’s worst people.” Among those who qualified for this list, either in Lopez’s or his editors’ opinion, are those whose pictures appear in the below screen shot. They are, from left to right, Frank Shaw, the famously corrupt mayor who was recalled in 1938; homicidal madman Charles Manson; disgraced former President Richard Nixon; former LAPD Chief William Parker; Manson family murderer Susan Atkins; serial killer Richard Ramirez, also remembered as the “Night Stalker”; and O.J. Simpson, the Butcher of Brentwood.
An interesting mix, to say the least, but I was puzzled by Parker’s presence among the murderers and corrupt politicians. Lopez explains thus: “Nobody beats former LAPD chief William Parker, said author and former Timesman Bill Boyarsky. ‘He was the most damaging Angeleno of all time’ because of his ‘us-against-them, all-white, anti-minority attitude. That has done more lasting harm to the city than anything.’”
A year ago, responding to a similar smear against Parker from Times columnist Tim Rutten, Glynn Martin, a retired LAPD officer now serving as executive director of the Los Angeles Police Historical Society, wrote that Parker must be understood as a man of his time, and that examining him through the lens of modern sensibilities distorts the memory of a man who integrated the department and cleansed it of its endemic corruption.
Placing Parker in such loathsome company is emblematic of the pettiness one has come to expect from the Los Angeles Times. And yet they wonder why their circulation is declining.