Monday, July 28, 2008

On, No! They Didn't!

Well, yes. They did.

The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times admitted that they lean center-left. In an editorial announcing the end of separate opinion and book review sections on Sundays, the editorial board produced an editorial justifying an opinion section, even if it would be part of the main news section (where it is located the rest of the week). In that editorial, they attempted to show just how editorials at the L.A. Times are produced.

Editorials are not what they once were; no longer do they memorialize the views of anyone who happened to lay his hands on a printing press. Today, at least at The Times, editorials reflect the considerations of a board, divergent in its members' politics, on the issues of the day. They are written after debate and disagreement, fashioned as part of a larger body of work that seeks intellectual honesty and consistency: We do not oppose the war in Iraq on Monday and support it on Tuesday; we do not support the death penalty one day and oppose it the next. And editorials are not blogs or columns; the views we publish in this space are not singular opinions but collective ones.

As such, editorials are a rare voice in our national culture and politics; they are the product of a Socratic enterprise, guided by the idea that debate produces wisdom.

Many of our readers disagree with us. Some accuse us of lock-step submission to orders sent by Democratic Party headquarters. We make no apologies for our center-left lean -- it is where our study of leading issues has drawn us -- but some of those criticisms are ridiculous, more revealing of our accusers than of our work. We like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a liberal Democrat, and supported his election, but we irritate him regularly with our skepticism about his fidelity to his promises. We also like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a moderate Republican, and supported his election too. Still, we do wish he'd give us a decent state budget. We don't think much of President Bush, but two-thirds of the nation, and even more of Los Angeles, is with us there.

We take a libertarian view of many issues -- we wish the government would snoop less, check its impulse to over-regulate, allow gay couples to marry, refuse to engage in state murder -- but we are not guided by ideological purity. We opposed the war in Iraq -- still do -- but backed the Bush administration's troop surge as a strategy for expediting withdrawal. Whether it's the construction of an Orange County toll road or the latest ruling by the Supreme Court, we analyze before we opine.


Now, the most remarkable part of the statement is the admission of a center-left slant on the editorial page. That admission should make the conservative leaders deliriously happy. After all, those leaders have long maintained that the main stream media is hopelessly liberal and now one of the major news outlets has just admitted it. Swell. Conservatives won't bother to carefully parse the statement and recognize that it reflects editorial page positions, not front page or news section positions.

Even so, the editorial's characterization of "center-left" is somewhat puzzling. Being against the war and for the surge hardly seems center-left, just a tad irrational. Backing Antonio Villaraigosa might have been a liberal choice, but backing Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man who has threatened to slash the pay of state workers to generate some badly needed cash rather than raise taxes on the wealthy? Equally as puzzling is the characterization of the editorial board's stance on the Fourth Amendment violations of the current administration and on the death penalty as "Libertarian."

The editorial makes sense only if one realizes how far to the right the GOP has moved the marker. That a major newspaper has bought into that movement is far more telling that its claim to be "center-left."

Nice try, but I ain't buying.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Anna said...

Wow. That brings a whole new meaning to "who ya gonna believe--me or your lying eyes?"

Oh, and using Jonah Goldberg, even once, pushes them over into the right.

4:06 AM  
Blogger Independent Perspective said...

editorials are a rare voice

With every published blog out there, I would think not. at least not anymore.

And I too think it is a mistake for any paper to admit position or slant, beyond simply opinion. What does the word left or right have anything to do with intellectual opinon, since secrecy and giving up the US Constitution is now the way Republicans seem to want it, at least according to the today's GOP, whom favor Kings opposed to Presidents, so that the word "right" has taken on a brand new meaning therefore newspapers should avoid the appearance of slant of any kind and simply adhere to honesty, morality and facts that should be used to fashion any opinion.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Green Eagle said...

My wife and I, who had subscribed to the Times since moving to L.A. in 1983, just cancelled our subscription. Having to pay to read Jonah Goldberg had us close to the edge, but reading again and again in supposed news stories how close Obama's positions and Mcain's were was the final straw.

It's been about three weeks now, and good riddance.

New York Times, you're next.

8:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Self teflonization. Proclaming you're a "liberal" and absurdly, "center left", is a good disguise.

It's a good game of ping pong the hacks play with the wingnuts. Win win for them, while lefties are in the peanut gallery, scratching their heads.

9:56 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

This reminds me of Bill O'Reilly's constant claims of being "a centrist".

11:12 AM  
Blogger Ri said...

Conservatives have made a point of citing polls/surveys which show that most reporters are liberal/Democrats, but what rarely gets cited by anyone are corresponding polls/surveys which show that editors and publishers are conservatives/Republicans. So the people who write the stories may very well be liberal/Democrats, but the people who decide the allocation of resources, what gets published, and where in the paper a story gets published, are conservative/Republicans. My rule of thumb is to assume that all editorial decisions of the MSM, regardless of the outlet, are conservative/Republican.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Debate produces wisdom" -- such nice sounding words.

One fatal flaw though: Debate -- in the absence of actual understanding -- produces ignorance, not wisdom.

And, as we know from recent history, in the too much ballyhooed spectrum of 'left - center -right', the right embraces ideology in the absence of understanding, facts and accuracy. The 'right' would indeed rather be 'right' than effective.

This has poisoned the culture. And this pronouncement from the LA Times merely embeds them in the culture of nonsense, the culture that pronounces in the absence of understanding.

Against the war but for the surge. Well, let's just look at the surge. On what basis of fact and understanding did this lofty LA Times 'debate' take place?

The worst, perhaps, is that they so casually announce they would like government to 'check it's impulse to over regulate'. On what factual basis? Did these intense debates consider, for example, the factual abysmal performance of our economy over the last thirty years of this 'deregulate' mantra? Do this solons even understand the basis for government statistics like inflation (that, you know, doesn't count gas and food), or GDP (that, you know, has a plug factor for 'happiness' that inflates the numbers), or unemployment (that, you know, is calculated not to count about half of those unemployed or underemployed)?

These folks simply parrot what the culture offers in terms of left/center/right. They do not understand things at any factual level. It's all ideology. And, since the nation is in such deep peril from the abuse of power, it's no wonder their debates produce such inconsistencies.

Get out of the cave, folks.

Try some sunlight.

4:55 AM  

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