At the blog for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, it is revealed today that a woman named Loretta Harper was recently chosen to be a national co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign. Why is this important? Because in 2008, Harper used her position at a Nevada high school to award extra credit to students who volunteered for Obama.
The NVPR blog archly wonders if 2012 will bring similar efforts nationwide:
No word on [whether] Harper, who makes $74,000 a year plus benefits, plans to expand outreach “efforts” like this nationwide now that she’s a co-chair of Obama’s re-election campaign, but if you’ve got “free labor” available, why not take advantage?
Never mind that Nevada’s high school graduation rate currently sits under 45 percent, liberals have a president to elect. We all have to get our priorities straight now, people.
Your tax dollars hard at work, re-electing the Democrat.
P.S. This news came originally from the Las Vegas Review-Journal. But that paper buried the lede, and also has a habit of facilitating lawsuits against bloggers for fair use quotes. So they get no quote and no link. Thanks to Victor Joecks of the Nevada Policy Research Institute for the hat tip.
UPDATE: Victor has now spoken with Loretta Harper and has updated his post to reflect the following:
The students actually got class credit in 2008, and not merely “extra credit” as the Las Vegas Review-Journal had claimed. The headline of this post has been changed accordingly.
Harper admits she approached children (as well as vice versa) about volunteering for Obama. She claims she would also give credit to students for volunteering for Republicans but “no students have asked her about that.” (Gee, I wonder why not? Could it have anything to do with her very public pro-Obama activism? Nah, that couldn’t be it.)
She is indeed planning to have students volunteer for Obama for class credit again this year.
This is a big story, folks. Expect to see much more on this. Nice job by Victor Joecks.
Courtesy of commenter Pablo comes a link to an L.A. Times article I had missed about Sarah Palin shopping around a book deal. The article drips with venom towards Palin. Little commentary is necessary; for the most part, all that is needed to demonstrate the reporter’s bias is to simply quote the article.
If you thought being governor of Alaska and a new grandmother would be enough to fill the cold, dark nights in the Arctic state, you underestimate Sarah Palin, the failed vice presidential candidate.
If you thought the bankruptcy of its parent company and the prospect of yet another round of layoffs would be enough to occupy the minds of L.A. Times reporters, you underestimate the hatred they have for Sarah Palin over at that failing newspaper.
Throughout the campaign, Palin was kept under wraps by staff, and her appearances were carefully orchestrated in the failed hope of protecting her from ridicule. Frequently when she did engage the media, she appeared ill prepared at best and hopelessly naive at worst. Her comments on Russia and politics were a steady diet for late-night comedians.
There is some truth to this, but the whole truth is a little more complex than revealed by reporter Muskal.
I’m not really interested in revisiting the debate over who is blame for Palin’s poor performance in a couple of interviews. I think she got screwed by unfair questions and editing in her interview with the insufferably smug Charlie Gibson. But I think Palin had only herself to blame for flubbing some simple questions floated by the leftist bubblehead Katie Couric. Ultimately, Palin was under a lot of pressure, with Big Media teaming up with promiscuous Wikipedia-quoting muttonheads from the Atlantic to question the parentage of her children, Saturday Night Live (aided by the aforementioned deceptive Gibson editing) recreating Americans’ memories of what Palin really said about Russia, and scumbag McCain advisors who overmanaged her. At the same time, all the unfairness aside, she turned out to be less ready for prime time than many of us had hoped based upon her impressive performance in Alaska.
The truth is a little less cartoonish than the simplistic version offered by Muskal of the Amazing Shrinking and Imploding L.A. Times. I guess offering a version of events lacking in subtlety and (dare I say it?) nuance might be Mr. Muskal’s attempt to appeal to his newspaper’s leftist base in Los Angeles.
During the campaign, there were charges that Palin tried to censor books at the Wasilla, Alaska, library when she was mayor of that community. Though the reports turned out to be overblown (she did ask the librarian about removing some books and then dismissed her along with other officials), the ink stuck to her, helping with conservatives and hurting with other voters.
That (“she did ask the librarian about removing some books”) sorta makes it sound like Palin actually tried to get books banned, doesn’t it? Of course, that didn’t happen. Even the notoriously pro-Obama FactCheck.org acknowledged that. In fact, the title of FactCheck’s post on that issue and others, Sliming Palin, would have made a nice title for Mr. Muskal’s article.
You may recall that PBS’s Gwen Ifill, the moderator of the Vice-Presidential debate, just coincidentally wrote a book titled “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” which just coincidentally was published on Inauguration Day. When the news became widely known, plenty of Ifill’s colleagues in the media seemed determined to ignore the ethical questions these coincidences raised.
After all, anyone in the Beltway establishment media who seriously considered those questions might not have been invited to the launch party. Click through for the pictures of the Obama cookies served to the David Broders and Jim Lehrers beneath Shepard Fairey “Be The Change” Obama propaganda posters. No word on what drinks were served, aside from the standard-issue Kool-Aid.
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:
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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?)
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.
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.
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?
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 APhad 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tennie Pierce pranks another firefighter, before getting the L.A. Times to support his lawsuit for being pranked himself.
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.)
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.)
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.
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
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 . . .
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 — or, as Tim Cavanaugh calls him, the sanctimonious endomorph — continued his past pattern of periodically telling outright lies to readers.
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.
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.
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: Did you read his blog entry about his bunions?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
I’m responding here to this article by Nathan Diament today over at TNR about how Obama will win over religious voters during his first term. The author considers the invitation to Rick Warren, the endorsement by Doug Kmiec, the fact that 20% of Obama supporters were pro-life, that he began his outreach to religious voters before announcing his run, etc., all as a foundation to claim that Obama will reach religious voters not with his words, but with his works.
I disagree for the following simple reason — Obama is not a truly religious man.
I’ve always been convinced that Obama’s participation and membership in the Trinity United Church in Chicago was more about his political aspirations than about religious faith. His rise in Chicago politics is linked to the support structure he built for himself with the South Side religious leaders and his career path of starting out as a “community organizer.”
But, more significantly in my view, since resigning from Trinity, Obama has not joined a new Church — either in Chicago where he intends to keep his family home — or in DC for their time in the White House.
Further, Obama has yet to attend a Sunday church service since the election. It was easy to make it to Sunday services while on the campaign trail — a visit to a local church in whatever town he happened to be campaigning in on a given Sunday during the primary or general campaign season was simply another opportunity to meet voters and be photographed. All that ended on November 5. Since then not one visit to a church.
While in Hawaii Obama skipped service on both Sundays he has been there, as well as Christmas day.
I’m not a particularly pious person myself, and I don’t regularly attend church. But I didn’t pretend to be otherwise while running for and serving in elective office.
Obama will lose religious voters over time because they will come to see him for what he is — an opportunistic politician who used church attendance as a tool to get ahead. He made them believe he was one of them when he truly wasn’t.
Everybody knows how President-elect Barack Obama’s amazing campaign money machine was dominated by several million regular folks sending in hard-earned amounts under $200, a real sign of his broadbased grassroots support.
Except, it turns out, that’s not really true. . .. . [T]he nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute just issued a detailed study of Obama’s donor base and its giving. And that’s what the Institute found, to its own surprise.
“The myth is that money from small donors dominated Barack Obama’s finances,” said CFI’s executive director Michael Malbin, admitting that his organization also was fooled. “The reality of Obama’s fundraising was impressive, but the reality does not match the myth.”
Who woulda thunk it?
Well, OK. Even without the benefit of a New Study, the Washington Post and this here blog were reporting this in October. Before the election . . . when it mattered.
At the L.A. Times blog, Andrew Malcolm says: “[W]e’ll see how broad-based news coverage of this real reality is.”
Well, we already saw how broad-based the coverage was before the election.
Democrat and former Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich has apparently beaten Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, the longest serving Republican in Senate history:
“Tuesday’s tally of just over 24,000 absentee and other ballots gave Begich 146,286, or 47.56 percent, to 143,912, or 46.76 percent, for Stevens.
A recount is possible.”
The decision came on Stevens’ 85th birthday, less than a month after his federal conviction for lying on his disclosure forms. The win would give the Democrats a gain of 7 seats in the Senate from this election, with two seats still undecided in Minnesota and Georgia.
norcal on Washington Post: Stenographer to Terrorists
Rip Murdock on Washington Post: Stenographer to Terrorists
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