|Man Without Qualities|
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
Davis Descending LXIII: Postscript On The Los Angeles Times
Is Los Angeles Times reporting generally tendentious and biased in favor of liberal and Democratic people and positions?
Of course it is. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a child. And the Times readership has received plenty of notice and information as to its bias.
Does the Los Angeles Times often reveal its tendentiousness and bias by running articles that place conservatives and Republicans in a bad light while not running similar or analogous articles about liberals and Democratics - or even doing the research and investigation that would permit the paper to run such articles?
Of course it does. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a naif. And the Times readership has plenty of notice and information as to this manifestation of its bias.
Does the Los Angeles Times generally preposterously deny that that its reporting is generally tendentious and biased in favor of liberals and Democratic positions?
Of course it does. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't read the Times. Almost nobody believes such denials - and nobody should believe them. People read the paper because its bias is also the reader's bias, or the reader is willing to tolerate the bias. The Times has no obligation to confess.
Is any of the above material to the question of whether the Los Angeles Times should have run its original controversial Arnold-and-the-six-women article last Thursday?
Of course not. Anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't understand the market place of ideas and the dynamics of free expression.
Some people, such as Jill Stewart, have complained that the Times did not investigate Gray Davis the way it did Arnold Schwarzenegger - especially because Ms. Stewart herself had previously discovered and reported on many appalling and newsworthy aspects of Mr. Davis' personality and sometimes violent behavior.
But that's not a valid criticism of the Los Angeles Times in this case.
The original Arnold-and-the-six-women story was newsworthy and did leave the electorate better informed and not particulary distracted or tricked (the Times behavior in the aftermath of that Thursday article may be another story).
If nasty stories should have been run about Mr. Davis, then failure to run such stories is the basis of valid criticisms of the conservative (or, at least, less tendentious) and Republican-leaning media. For example, why did the Orange County Register, the San Diego Union-Tribune and even the Wall Street Journal and Fox News all fail to follow up on Ms. Stewart's reporting?
One doesn't meet or discredit a report in the market place of ideas by arguing that the reporter should have also reported something else - something hostile to the reporter's own beliefs and inclinations - unless that "something else" is needed to make the original report not materially misleading. But reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger groped women would not be clarified or made less misleading by inclusion of reports that Gray Davis throws ashtrays and physically shakes female staff members.
That Gray Davis throws ashtrays and shakes women staff and the like are facts relevant to reaching a political conclusion: Who should the voter support? Demanding that an obviously liberal/Democratic biased media outlet like the Times report facts that disfavor its bias requires a rejection of basic principles of the free market place of ideas: media really are entitled to write and report just what they want. Further, the Times readership has plenty of notice and information as to its biases - and if those readers want complete information they should read other papers, too.
The proper way one meets or discredits a report in the market place of ideas is by actually reporting that "something else." So which media outlets - if any - had the responsibility to run reports that Gray Davis throws ashtrays and physically shakes female staff members?
If there is a breach of trust in this case between a media outlet and its readers for failure to report on Gray Davis, that breach has been committed by the conservative, less tendentious and Republican-leaning media. It is those media who have led their readership to think that such media will investigate and report such matters when liberals and Democrats are involved.
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