On, No! They Didn't!
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.
Labels: Free Press