Saturday, August 04, 2007

O'Shea Tries To Fool New York Times

Written from San Carlos, California --

James O'Shea, Chicago's toady at the L.A. Times, has had the temerity to criticize the New York Times editorial page for simply telling the truth -- that the L.A. Times has severely reduced its coverage of the news, both abroad and nationally.

Yes, it is true the L.A. Times is still capable of puttiing together good reports. It retains some outstanding foreign and national reporters. And it may not be true, as the New York Times suggested, that there has been a cutback in the LAT reporting staff in Baghdad.

But the news hole is not nearly the same. O'Shea and fellow-toady, publisher David Hiller, are lying through their teeth when they insist the many cost cutbacks, buyouts and layoffs they have followed Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons in implementing have not drastically compromised the everyday news coverage in the L.A. Times.

While staying on California's North Coast this week, I had a conversation with a resident of Palos Verdes Estates who was vacationing as I was. He told me he takes three newspapers -- the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the L.A. Times.

"But I only spend 10 minutes a day on the L.A. Times," he said. "And I'm thinking od dropping it. It has deteriorated badly and continues to do so."

It's easy for O'Shea to peddle drivil. He has done it numerous times with the Times staff, and now he's done it by whining to Andrew Rosenthal, the NYT's editorial page editor.

But truth will out. The fact is, that under Tribune control, the L.A. Times has sunk hopelessly, and now, with the Sam Zell purchase in growing doubt, the only way out is to sell the paper who believes in California and cares enough for it to buy the newspaper and restore it to its former quality.

In the meantime, O'Shea, give it a rest. Don't try to peddle such nonsense, as in his letter to Rosenthal.

--

The collapse of American Mortgage Home Investments, all within a few weeks, deomonstrates once again how the sub prime mortgage crisis has spread out to affect the economy as a whole. And it can only get worse. A New York Times analysis yesterday quoted the classical economist, Bagehot, as saying that whenever sound creditworthiness has to be proved, it doesn't exist. Thas has now been borne out once again.

We've seen it before, but this demonstrates once again, that businessmen, are no more able than government. In fact, there is more ability in government than in the business community. And it is more scrupulous, more idealistic. The private sector in the U.S. is marked by greed, a failure to assess prospects properly, and the presence of vastly over-compensated CEOs, such as the Tribune's FitzSimons.

There is shared culpability in the sub prime mortgage crisis, since the Federal Reserve Board and other government agencies should have acted long ago to restrain the private sectors from offering loans that could not be repaid by many of those who were borrowing money. But the prime responsibility belongs to the financial executives who decided to offer such loans, and to take advantage of borrrowers with insufficient credit in doing so.

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