Saturday, June 18, 2005

Michael Kinsley Displays An Independent Stance On L.A. Times Editorial Pages

One thing that has to be said for Michael Kinsley of late is that he has staked out an independent position in some respects. As I said earlier in the week, his changes on the L.A. Times editorial pages deserve time to see how they will turn out.

But I personally liked the editorial page feature Thursday, while I was out of town attending a Dartmouth reunion, in which each of the members of the editorial board, including Kinsley, described their commuting experience. Traffic is one area, immigration being another, where Kinsley and his deputy, Andres Martinez, have promised to "think out loud," for awhile on an issue of infinite complexity, and this was a good start on traffic.

Especially attractive was Martinez observing, "The first time I felt like a bona fide Angeleno was the first time I used the term "surface street." And I also appreciated Kinsley, speaking of his commute from the Bunker Towers downhill to The Times, declaring, "And, of course, although I couldn't imagine that I would ever drive this pathetic distance, longtime Angelenos insisted that I would most of the time, and they were right."

I should acknowledge parenthetically, by the way, that I was wrong to suggest that Kinsley might be running up large hotel bills in his longer commute from his other home in Seattle. I'm glad to see he is living in Bunker Hill while he is here, hopefully not at the Times' expense.

Friday featured a long editorial on the progress or lack of it of the war in Iraq, and also an invitation to readers to try to fashion their own wiki editorial, rewriting the editorial on a Web page. We'll await word on how many actually took advantage of this. The danger is that it may serve to muddle up views of the Times' editorial positions. But it may give the readers a greater sense of their own participation. We'll have to see.

The most positive Kinsley exercise of the week, in my view, was his column last Sunday taking exception to the ordinary liberal view that the Downing Street Memo, revealed during the recent British election campaign, demonstrated "proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he did so."

Months ago, when I suggested that Kinsley was in an alliance with columnist Bob Scheer to "hijack" the Times' editorial pages, Kinsley quickly denounced that view as wrong, saying that he differed from Scheer.

Sunday's Kinsley column proved it. Kinsley made fun of the left in the column, declaring, "I don't buy the fuss" it is trying to make over the Downing Street Memo, and observing, "Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them..." Also, Kinsley referred casually to Scheer as a "left wing Los Angeles Times columnist," which he certainly is at the very least.

It is refreshing to see Kinsley use the term left wing as well as right wing, calling people for what they are. And the headline of Kinsley's column was, "The Left Gets A Memo."

That Kinsley's column struck a nerve was shown Wednesday when the Times ran three letters taking him to task for allegedly being what one reader described as "the most aimiable of lap dogs." Another said, "Shame on the press for not being more aggressive on this issue. Your la-de-da. this-has-been-written-about-before attitude is exactly what's wrong with this picture. Whatever happened to investigative journalism?"

A ha! I'm delighted when some of the Times' crazy left wing readers find cause to criticize the paper from the left. It can't help but help circulation, down more than 200,000 under Tribune ownership.

Now, we know why Kinsley didn't endorse Sen. Kerry in the last election. He was a closet Bush supporter. (Just kidding).

But, seriously, to the extent Kinsley runs an independemt. free-thinking editorial page, he will begin to command respect for himself and the newspaper, even if he does live half the time and votes in the state of Washington.

1 Comments:

Blogger shelly sloan said...

YOu are way too far forgiving; one or two proper postions does not an Editor make.

Let him move to LA and I might cut him some slack; short of that, I want an Angeleno/Californian for my Editor.

If so, I might renew my hard copy subscription.

6/18/2005 5:03 PM  

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