When the employees of the Los Angeles Times go home at night, I wonder if they ever think about the travesty that they are contributing to on a daily basis. After all, when writers like David Lazarus and Michael Hiltzik first joined the paper, did they consider themselves real journalists? Did they feel that they were reporters in the truest sense of the word?
Because there’s no way they are now, and I have trouble finding other employees of the Times that I would call true journalists.
These days, real journalism is happening at the LA Weekly. This free, alternative newspaper has out-reported the propaganda machine at the LA Times over and over again. Reporters at the Weekly have repeatedly, and properly, hammered Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for gross incompetence. The most recent example was the Weekly’s outstanding exposé on the Mayor’s failure to report over $100,000 in free tickets to various sporting and entertainment events. As the intrepid reporters at the Weekly have shown, there is simply no excuse for what the Mayor has done to Los Angeles. This came on top of the paper’s report that the Mayor spends only 11% of his time actually handling the business of Los Angeles. The Weekly also remains one of the last bastions of true film criticism left in the country, this despite the departure of true film critic extraordinaire Manhola Dargis.
In contrast, we have the “reporters” at the Los Angeles Times.
It doesn’t take an ombudsman to read over the headlines and text of just about any Times article concerning politics or public policy and realize that there is no real reportage going on. The phraseology, inferences, and blatant inaccuracies repeatedly out the newspaper as being nothing more than screeds that support liberal ideology.
Take David Lazarus. The business columnist who transferred from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007 came up with this ridiculous statement in his June 25th column: “At what point do banks finally throw in the towel and accept that they’ve got to reduce people’s mortgages if they want to ease the foreclosure crisis?” A real opening line from a real reporter doing real journalism would have been, “At what point do banks start the wholesale seizure of properties that irresponsible borrowers took mortgages out on?” That Mr. Lazarus buries the real story–the rampant greed of mortgage lenders and irresponsible behavior of borrowers–is just one reason he should be stripped of his credentials. The other reason is deliberately misleading readers as to the nature of the foreclosure crisis. Mr. Lazarus never once states the downside to his ridiculous assertion–that reducing mortgages rewards bad behavior, that if you are current on your mortgage you are out of luck for playing by the rules, that failing to meet your obligations results in a reward.
A casual glance at other business articles reveals a Keynesian dolt who constantly sings the praises about the already-proven failure of the stimulus (he wants more!) Mr. Hiltzik wants to increase taxes on California businesses — despite the fact that every major report has concluded that California’s business environment is so unfriendly that companies are leaving the state in droves (the real story).
Readers no doubt will point to the LA Weekly as a far-left wing newspaper. What makes it different from the LA Times? First, the Weekly makes no excuses about its political bias, nor does it try to hide it. The Los Angeles Times has the nerve to call itself unbiased.
But here’s the other thing. I don’t care if the Weekly is a liberal paper, as long as its reporters actually report the news honestly. The fact that they attacked one of their own — because it’s a strong story and the right thing to do — only increases the paper’s credibility in my eyes. They can rip apart every conservative, independent, and Green Party politician they want, as long as they do so with the standards they’ve exhibited recently.
The LA Times has no such credibility, which is why I canceled my subscription.