Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"Current" Is Not Up To "Opinion's" Standards In L.A. Times

When Dean Baquet was named new editor of the L.A. Times, it was announced at the same time that the editorial pages would report, not to him, but to Jeff Johnson, the new publisher. It's my understanding this was Baquet's wish, that he feels it better not to be involved in editorial policy.

But the apparent result is that the newly-renamed "Current," the old Sunday Opinion section, is not up to the standards of the rest of the Times.

Reading "Current" these days, it seems a terrible mishmosh of all kinds of articles, some of them downright frivolous.

This past Sunday's two lead articles, about retirees, would have been better placed in the old View section. They were not so much on public policy, as simple features.

Also, following the squalid example of the ousted editorial pages editor, Michael Kinsley, "Current" continues to use Joel Stein, the so-called humorist who at Time magazine and now the Times seems obsessed by pornography, judging by how much he writes about it.

For many years, the Opinion section was a distinguished part of the L.A. Times under such editors as Tim Rutten and Sue Horton. These editors must be having bad dreams about what the section has now become.

Jeff Johnson has made some good moves, in my view, as publisher, so far, but he may be ill-suited to be the ultimate responsible party for "Current." Like it or not, this should be Baquet's responsibility.

Kinsley purged the editorial board of the Times, and this may now be having lasting effects. Looking at "Current" reminds one that the results of Stalin's purges in Russia were lasting weakness for the Soviet Union, and it is going to take the Times editorial pages quite awhile to overcome the Kinsley effects.

Kinsley was, as I've written before, an ersatz liberal who had inconsistent views. He lambasted President Bush, but he failed to support John Kerry for President, He also failed to support Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who is now a political prisoner of the U.S. justice system.

Under Kinsley and now after him there has been something of a turn to the right on the Times editorial pages. We are reminded of that again just this morning with the editorial calling on Democrats to vote to confirm the latest rightwinger to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts.

The exceptionally weak and poorly-reasoned editorial this morning calls Roberts "an esxeptionally qualified nominee, well within the mainstream of American legal thought."

This is, in a word, horseshit. Nothing Roberts said in testimony last week would justify such a conclusion, since he devoted himself to refusing to answer all direct questions about his views. And to advise the opposition Democrats not to be an opposition is crazy.

"Current" is awful. Now, the editorials are moving to the right, right up there with Colonel McCormick, the late director of the Chicago Tribune. Maybe, it's no wonder that Baquet doesn't want to be involved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's going to take a while to undo Michael Kinsley's wreckage, I'm afraid. Like any good dictator, he installed a sycophant at the top (Andres Martinez), and generally disrupted order on a magnitude that makes it difficult to roll back the clock.

9/21/2005 8:58 AM  

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