If I Ran the LA Times…
by Jim Washburn
I'd bring back Rick O'Shay to the comics page and I'd stop hiding the Sunday comics inside of advertising sections.
I'd find a conservative columnist who doesn't blow. There's a difference between being provocative and factious, and the Times' op-ed writers Jonah Goldberg and Max Boot beg the question: How many times does someone have to be wrong before you stop calling him an expert?
I'd call a turd a turd. Like others in the mainstream media, the Times is so scared of appearing biased that it often appears too timid to speak the truth. There used to be a wholly acceptable bias in news that was called "the public interest."
If a politician is speaking something you know to be less than the truth, don't print it without saying so. If it is a faction of one political party that's throwing a spanner in the works, say so, instead of just saying, "Oh, that's Washington."
Consider this Times headline this week: "Congress shuts door on tax cut and jobless aid."
Had the paper sought a similar sense of "balance" in previous eras, maybe in 1939, instead of reading "Hitler invades Poland" Angelinos would have read "Bickering European states can't reach accord," or on a certain day in Nov. 1963 the headline would have been "Kennedy, critic exchange views in Dallas."
In the case of the expiring tax cut, Senate Democrats had already compromised, and then compromised some more, finally approving a bill containing provisions odious to them, because the opposing side was holding the incomes of millions hostage to issues that had nothing to do with payroll taxes. That wasn't enough for "Tea Party" House Republicans--previously willing to send the US economy tumbling rather than raise taxes on the rich-- who now seemed intent on blocking any extension of the modest payroll tax working people have enjoyed for the past year.
The same thuggish, obdurate behavior has marked the Tea Party brigade's last couple of years in Washington, and it is a disservice to readers to continue to treat this as if it is not an extreme, coarse new assault on America's political comity.
It equally ignores the public interest to let a quote from serial science denier James Inhofe (Sen., OK) rebut statements from EPA scientists and the Congressional Research Service, without even questioning the validity of Inhofe's inflammatory claims.
The Times does a lot of topnotch reporting, but blunts its effect, and, I expect, loses readers, by serving a skewed notion of fairness that leaves truth and the public interest out of the balance.