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Guest Contributor

The Fourth Estate’s Failure: Who Really Loses When The Los Angeles Times Distorts The News
by Charles McVey 5/21/03

In our civilization the press is so powerful that in the late Eighteenth Century it was first called the Fourth Estate; more powerful than the Church, the State, and the People. By any objective measure, the press is now so imprinted with a Leftist orientation, a Leftist agenda, that they feel fully justified in not only slanting articles but in changing the news.

While the recent Jayson Blair affair at the New York Times may simply have been the disclosed factual fabrications of an unscrupulous reporter it is – however - emblematic of the ideological dishonesty of the majority of the Fourth Estate.

I need not look any further than the slab of newsprint sitting in my own driveway to see this dishonesty on the pages of the West Coast’s newspaper of record, the Los Angeles Times. Here is just a top-of-mind sample:

  • On Thursday, January 11, 2001, the Times censored a column by George Will. They felt justified in this action because they did not agree, as Will did, that Juanita Broaddrick was believable. To refresh your memory, Juanita Broaddrick accused President Clinton of raping her some fifteen years before he came to the presidency. At that time, the Times refused to even print her name anywhere in the paper. Whether that is still true I cannot say.
  • On any given day, look at the Times’ front page and Commentary page. Count the number of articles supporting Leftist positions and Rightist positions. Note the tenor of these columns. While I normally abstain from absolutist statements, you will find the Los Angeles Times heavily weighted to the, not Left, but far Left. I wrote to Janet Clayton, editor of the Los Angeles Times’ Editorial pages, regarding just that and used the editions from March 26 and 27 of this year. Out of ten columns, all ten were of the far Left.
  • Subsequently in March, a Times photographer manipulated a front-page photo to make it appear a British soldier was menacing civilians, including a baby. Actually, the soldier was actually trying to get them to take shelter. While the Times did fire the photographer, they justified his actions by saying that it was only “an aesthetic thing.” [It must also be noted others, not to their credit, feel such alterations are quite valid. See Zone Zero.]
  • In the May 12 issue of The Weekly Standard, Jonathan Foreman related how the Los Angeles Times reporter, David Zucchino, distorted the comments of an Iraqi doctor. When the doctor openly commented the fact that he had always employed bodyguards, Zucchino changed that statement to “he has hired two armed guards”, implying the unrest caused by the Americans had caused him to now hire guards. Why would Zucchino feel empowered to make such a distortion? He obviously, and correctly, understands what the Los Angeles Times wants.
  • Finally we come to Robert Scheer. I challenge anyone to find a more radical-left columnist writing for a major paper in America. Now that’s saying something! This challenge leaves me open to columnists from New York, Minneapolis, Boston, and San Francisco, which is quite a pantheon of the Left. Again, obviously, this is what the Los Angeles Times values.

Yesterday morning while eating breakfast, I opened up to the Los Angeles Times’ Commentary page and found one of the more disgusting and failing attempts at journalism from Robert Scheer. This relic from the old, far Left calls our American military liars.

He states we made up “phony footage (to) engender public sympathy for a manufactured war.” He asserts we used blank bullets, special effects, that it was all an act. For this amazing series of accusations, that fail to stand up to casual inspection, this relic cites the BBC. So what does the BBC say? Even the BBC, an organization so biased that its news broadcasts were banned from British war ships, says there are multiple stories floating around and they are attempting to crosscheck the facts like a reputable organization does. You can see an interview of the BBC reporter at CNN.

The point to be made is that after all theses issues of reporting integrity, issues that directly call into question the professionalism of the Los Angeles Times itself, the Times’ editor allowed this unchecked, extraordinarily vicious, despicable article to be published. Why? Because she agreed with its intent. Janet Clayton knows what the policy is at the Los Angeles Times.

Like the New York Times, the Scheer column is a failure of the organization, not just the individual. These news organizations have established predefined positions to which employees must adhere. Subsequent failures of editors, columnists, or photographers to accomplish their jobs with professionalism occur because they know that organizational position. They know what is required. They know achieving that goal is more important than truth.
Who loses here? We, the people.



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