Sunday, May 22, 2005

It's Nice That The L.A. Times Editorial Page Has Room For Dissenters, But It Would Be Better If It Took Consistently Sound Positions

In principle, it seems nice to see that the Los Angeles Times editorial pages have room for dissent, such as the piece today, May 22, by Judy Dugan, opposing the U.S. Senate doing away with the filibuster.

But it would have been better had the Times, which supposedly has a liberal editorial policy, taken a majority editorial board position consistent with that policy and opposed doing away with the filibuster, period.

It was nice that the Times endorsed Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor of Los Angeles. But it would have been nicer had the Times editorial page been more definite and more persistent in its support of Villaraigosa and taken a firm position against the scurrilous campaign the inept incumbent, James Hahn, waged against him. The editorial page shouldn't have left it to columnist Steve Lopez this morning to take the ringing position he did for tolerance. It should have taken that position, before the election, itself.

An editorial page should choose clearly, and not be the mishmosh the Times as a newspaper is today. The paper, rather than commanding admiration for reflecting all views and trying to do everything, has sadly ended up by disgusting many of its readers by such seeming inconsistencies as noted above.

Similarly, I must admit, Michael Kinsley finally put it on the line today with an eloquent column defending stem cell research. It turns out he can write a good column. I'm glad to see it. But a ringing Times editorial on the stem cell question would not have been out of place today, either.

I'm glad he gave Judy Dugan a chance to put on the editorial page a rational argument for keeping the filibuster, because, at its best the filibuster is consistent with the sound American principle of majority rule but minority rights.

But then why did he remove Molly Selvin from the paper's editorial board? She has been a consistent living exponent for many years now for good judges and rational, humane principles. It's one thing to take the position, as Kinsley did, that nobody should be on the editorial board forever. It's another to remove Selvin just at this unfortunate moment, when she's so needed.

One other matter, about the paper in general.

There's a letter on the editorial page today from Ray DiPietro of Rancho Santa Fe Springs making another point that the Times ought to be adhering to more than it does, and that is sticking with the American side of the War on Terror, at least in some fundamental respects.

DiPietro writes to object to an article that ran in the news pages last Thursday, titled, "In Brothers, Two Faces of the Iraq Insurgency." That article ran on Page 1.

DiPietro writes, "This article completely overlooks the pain caused by the Iraqi insurgents to our American soldiers and their families. Buried within the story is the comment that one of the terrorist brothers had orchestrated the suicide attack on a U.S. base that killed 22 U.S. and Iraqi troops and civilian contractors.

"The Times' never-ending quest to report both sides of a story is misdirected when it comes to this war, in which America is fighting terrorism. Printing a story such as this one is the same as having The Times interviewing family members of SS soldiers or Kamikaze pilots for their side of the story -- during World War II. I don't believe that would have happened."

Amen! I wonder how my father and mother would have felt in 1945
had The Times interviewed the family of the Kamikazi pilot who struck my father's ship, the Destroyer-Escort Rall, off Okinawa killing or wounding one third of the crew. They didn't think there was a good side to suicide attacks that needed to be presented to Times readers.

Both on the editorial pages and in the news pages, certain defining choices must be made. The paper can't take all sides in an imperfect world and expect its readers to stay loyal to it.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once again Ken, you validly criticize important issues dealing with the Editorial Pages of the Times, yet once again, the principal villain escapes even honorable mention, let alone signal blame for this state of affairs.

Who is responsible for backing the incompenent and absentee Editor of the Editorial Pages?

Anyone?

You guessed it, none other than John Carroll, The Editor of the Los Angeles Times (You know, the job Howell Raines held at the New York Times).

I'm beginning to wonder what Carroll has on Reich.

Is it pictures of you with the proverbial dead girl or live boy?

C'mon Ken, you know what happens at the Times and you know where the blame really lies.

Is it "Howell Raines" time for the Times?

When will you post on the pathetic old man and help push him out the door so we can get some decent editing done at the LA Times?

If not now, when?

5/22/2005 6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas, Mr. Reich, you seem to think that Bush's "war on terror" is some sort of salutary enterprise, instead of the transparent oil-and-land grab that it actually is. Bush invaded and occupied a sovereign nation that was not -- repeat, NOT -- a threat to the United States. He and his neocon imperialist minions conflated Iraq with the Sept. 11 attacks, which were carried out by fanatical citizens of a rogue nation that happens to be best buddies with the Bush Crime Family: Saudi Arabia. American soldiers are dying in vain simply to satisfy the hegemony of a vicious right-wing cartel. How high will the toll go? Yes, I "support the troops" -- by bringing them home immediately, out of harm's way.

The destruction of Iraq is immoral and illegal, yet nobody cares about the ruination. Nobody cares about the thousands of Iraqis we have maimed and killed. Nobody cares about the destruction of ancient antiquities. What we call "insurgents" are in many cases ordinary Iraqis who are responding to our bombs and tanks and depleted uranium, which in the long term will render the country largely uninhabitable The recent Downing Street memo is the smoking gun that proves that Bush and Blair blatantly lied about our so-called justifications for going to "war." It is high time for courageous U.S. politicians -- too bad British MP George Galloway doesn't belong to us -- to bring articles of impeachment against Bush. To pretend that he's led anything other than a disastrous, murderous debacle -- the worst foreign-policy blunder in American history -- is to engage in delusion, falsehood and sophistry. He's a war criminal, pure and simple, and if you'd move beyond your blind "patriotism" and rah-rah jingoism, you'd agree with that assessment.

5/23/2005 1:34 PM  
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