@THE GUSS REPORT-An article published by the LA Times on Saturday further exposes its bursting-at-the-seams bias and dishonest reporting on its kryptonite issue, illegal immigration.
While a news article is supposed to simply report on a subject (in this case, a rally against sanctuary city policies that took place outside of LA City Hall on Saturday), this article instead raises questions about whether the Timesattempted to influence what happened at the rally.
The specific questions are:
Why did the Timesassign a science reporter to cover a political rally?
When did the LA Timesfirst learn about the rally?
Did the LA Timesdeliberately delay reporting about the rally in order to minimize its attendance?
The article, written by science reporter Deborah Netburn, originally appeared in this form, written in the future tense with the headline, “Joy Villa to perform at March for Our Rights rally at L.A. City Hall to protest ‘sanctuary’ cities.”Netburn goes on to write that the event “is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.”
The first problem is that the article was published at 1:10 p.m., after the rally started. This is no small issue, since the Timesis (for at least a little while longer) located across the street from City Hall, where the rally took place.
Are we to believe that the Timesonly stumbled upon the rally and were not notified about it days or weeks in advance? That couldn’t be the case, since Netburn – writing about it in the future tense – would have gleaned that information from a press release provided by rally organizers sometime before Saturday.
Or, did the Timesknow about the rally sometime before Saturday and then deliberately delayed writing about it in order to influence (read: minimize) the number of people who turned out for it, thus impacting the news rather than simply reporting on it. That would be a death blow to its already diminished integrity.
Since neither Netburn, Jim Kirk nor Shelby Grad (the Times’ Editor-in-Chiefand Assistant Managing Editor, California/Metro, respectively) responded to Twitter queries, I turned for perspective to Joseph Mailander, author of “LA at Intermission: A City Mingling Towards Identity.”
DG: “Why might the LA Timeshave assigned a science reporter to cover a political rally?”
Mailander:"I don’t like to advocate for any particular political paradigm, but the Timesobviously does, and this kind of thing shows how little balance there is at the newspaper anymore, even in news. This (rally) doesn’t fit the editors’ agenda, was actually posted after the event began, and even then, they assigned a science writer who may have few dependable contacts to the State’s political sphere for quality comment.”
Mailander also notes that Netburn is credited in an updated version of her article as theTimes’ photographer at the event, raising the question of why the Timesdidn’t assign a staff photographer. Also, in that update, Netburn misspelled the name of rally attendee Miriam Fogler, a decades-long public commenter about illegal immigration at LA City Council meetings, a mistake that a political reporter would not have made.
DG: Does the fact that the Times published anything about the event go against claims that it is biased?
Mailander: “The fact that this event received coverage at all was probably miraculous, given the obvious progressive agenda of the newsroom editors. Do you know how many articles they run in advance of progressive demonstrations? They are virtually a public relations site for such pieces. My friends typically send along an email link to the first promotional Timespiece they see and are able to invite me to these kinds of (events) a week ahead of time.”
DG: But you have long felt there is also an imbalance on the Times’ Editorial Board.
Mailander: "The worst page of the newspaper for some time now has been the Editorial page. The same day that (the rally article) appeared, the newspaper’s editorial board sung the praises of George Soros of all people, for spending money on various California district attorney races. What possible motivation can you have for such an editorial, other than showing how hopeful you are of pocketing more of that Soros cash yourself?”
Mailander goes on to say, “We expect newspapers to provide conclusive analysis and sturdy opinions. But this kind of amateurish, ad hoc bias only makes the paper even less trustworthy to conservatives and even moderates.”
It’s tough to disagree. As I noted during the recent earnings report of the Times’ current owner, Tronc, its CEO acknowledged that it is still trying to navigate how to profit from journalism in the digital world. But if Tronc, or the Timesprospective new owner (Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong) or some suitor waiting in the wings, continues to play “Guess the Bias,” the issue won’t be one of profitability for the Times, but of survivability.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. Verifiable tips and story ideas can be sent to him at TheGussReport@gmail.com. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.