Saturday, January 01, 2005

Skewering the Los Angeles Times

There's an extremely thorough two-part post on Patterico's Pontifications exposing the blatant left-wing bias of the Los Angeles Times. This is a definite must-read!

Once you've read it, you may share my view that the New York Times, the East Coast equivalent of the LA Times, deserves the same kind of scrutiny.

It's easy to simply ignore biased mainstream media sources. However, they're dangerous in that many people believe them, and that includes people in other countries. It could be that foreign perceptions of the U.S. might be much less distorted if our own major media outlets weren't so determined to trash most things American.

And consider what might have happened if the mainstream media had operated with professionalism and objectivity during the last election. Despite their best efforts, Bush beat Kerry by well over three million votes. Absent their negative influence, Bush most likely would have won by a much larger margin.

It's not enough to ignore them. They have to be exposed, and people like Patterico are doing a good job of it.


Blogger Kevin said...

Patterico looks at the LAT thru the eyes of a partisan. Partisans on the opposite side could just as easily compile a list of things that they wish the LAT had reported on but didn't - thus drawing the conclussion that the LAT is biased in favor of Republicans.

That said, we don't know for sure that Bush won, and if so, by how much. Ohio is a complete mess and New Mexico and Florida don't look much better. In addition there are a half dozen or so other states where GOP plans to disenfranchize voters were uncovered and thus presumably thwarted earlier in the summer. Not to mention the fact that paid signiture gatherers working for the GOP were caught gathering new voter registrations and then throwing away any which weren't signing up as Republicans. And they were known to have operated in several states. Who knows how many uncounted provisional ballots resulted from citizens believing they'd properly registered to vote only to have been NeoConned?

The pattern from the 2004 election is stunningly clear. The GOP intended to return Bush to the White House by any means necessary. Legal and ethical concerns don't seem to have posed a stumbling block for them.

That this obvious scheme by the GOP hasn't been widely covered by the so-called "liberal" media undercuts the allegations by Patterico and others. If the LAT and the NYT were so biased, why aren't they pounding on the vote fraud issue day after day? God knows there are partisans on the Left who would dearly love either or both papers to give this scandal the coverage they feel it deserves.

I'm not saying that the LAT or the NYT are unbiased. What I'm saying is that taking the word of partisans like Patterico on this issue is a bit like deciding whether to convert to Hinduism by consulting with Rev. Jerry Falwell or deciding whether to become a Southern Baptist by consulting with the Pope.

It strikes me as intellectually dishonest to ignore the partisanship of a source while at the same time citing that source to out the partisanship of another source.

1:03 PM, January 01, 2005  
Blogger Gindy said...

Believe me. One could go on about the LA Times all day long. Hope your New Year went well.

1:15 PM, January 01, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, just because he's the Pope wouldn't mean that his criticism of Southern Baptist theology and practice would be wrong. In fact, given that he's made himself something of an expert on religion in general, his views would merit considerable respect. Besides, you couldn't trust Jerry Falwell's views on Southern Baptists, since he's part of the problem.

4:51 PM, January 01, 2005  
Blogger said...

'It could be that foreign perceptions of the U.S. might be much less distorted if our own major media outlets weren't so determined to trash most things American'

Sorry Tom, but believe it or not 'foreigners' have their own press agencies and they are far more independent than the US media outlets. The US media is little more than a government mouthpiece, especially in the supine way they just rolled over and reported exactly what the Bush administration fed them.

The rest of the world looked on aghast at the nonsense that was coming out of the Whitehouse, and remember that the US did not convince members of the UN that they had a case to go to war then and there. Why? Because the rest of the world has a free press and recognised the baloney that was coming out in the press.

Over the last 12 months I have read and seen media in Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia. As well as having access to the International Herald Tribune. When I compare what I read and see on local media, they bear next to no comparison with what is reported in America.

Quite simply most Americans haven't got a clue what's going on in the world outside it, and more importantly don't seem to care.


12:54 AM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

John, thanks for your comment.

I don't mean to get in a measuring contest with you, but for many years I've lived in (not simply visited) 11 countries on four continents and traveled in many other countries. Right now I live in southeast Europe.

I've seen quite a bit of foreign media reporting, and it's certainly no better than the U.S. media. In many cases, it's even more strongly influenced by partisan political considerations or simply corrupt. Moreover, there's a strong tendency to report as fact the wildest kinds of rumors and conspiracy theories. Much of the British media, in particular, regularly goes from being biased to outright hysterical.

Criticizing the LA Times and the New York Times these days is valid, given the objective facts. But overall, the U.S. media is like U.S. democracy--it may be broken in a lot of ways, but it's better than all others.

I also have to note that I've been reading the IHT for many years, undoubtedly longer than you have. It was reasonably good in the past, when it was jointly owned by the Washington Post and the New York Times. When the NYT assumed sole ownership, the IHT became exactly like the NYT, reflecting a strong leftist bias.

7:00 AM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

I've lived outside of the United States too. Specifically, just outside of Geneva Switzerland (on the French side of the border)as a college student there back in the mid-80's. Which was interesting because Geneva is such an international city, what with the alternate UN HQ being located there in Geneva and all. Although I will readily concede that I've not had the international exposure that Tom has had. However, my parents lived in various parts of Africa for 12 years, including a front-row seat for the Rwandan genocide of '94, and I bring what they've related to me to the table too.

Nevertheless, my experiences say that you're both right. Which is to say that both John and you, Tom, make valid points based on valid observations. I lean more towards John's take, though.

My sense is that the international press has it's own agenda. Not as a monolithic whole. Rather that in Europe, in particular, different segments of the media have their own agendas and are relatively open about it - which is in stark contrast to segments of the American press, such as the LAT, NYT and the Wa Post, to name a few.

I don't believe that the foreign press takes it's cue from what the American press has to say. At least not nearly to the extent that Tom seems to believe they do. I think it's more a matter of coincidence than of cause & effect. Indeed, as John alludes to, some segments of the foreign press are considerably harsher in their criticism of the Bush administration than any of the American press. So, I don't see how the American press can be implicated as the cause.

There are several newspapers in places like England and Australia which are considerably more critical of Bush's policies than the worst examples I've ever seen attributed to either the LAT or the NYT.

I do have to disagree with you, Tom, in your assertion that the US press is better than the rest. I much prefer the infinitely more intellectually honest openness about their own ideological biases that one finds in much of the European press. At least then one can take the proffered bias into account when sifting thru their reporting. That's not to say that I read the foreign press with any regularity - with the exception of the Sydney Herald. Just that I prefer their being upfront about their bias. You say that the LAT is biased. But, you cite a source which I consider equally biased to make your case.

2:45 PM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, I didn't say, or mean to imply, that the foreign press takes its lead from the U.S. media. That's an oversimplification. The international influence of the U.S. media is based on a number of factors. First, people in other countries read our press, as we read theirs; second, stories carried in the U.S. mainstream media are picked up by foreign media, and vice-versa; and third, there's a significant interlocking of U.S. and foreign media through organizations such as CNN, BBC, etc. So in effect, everyone is feeding off everyone else. However, the U.S. mainstream media is the filter for perceptions about the American people and our government. That means, to an unfortunate extent, opinions and attitudes among foreign citizens and journalists alike are filtered through a somewhat distorted lens.

If you read the two-part post at Patterico's Pontifications, you see that he has carefully documented his criticisms of the L.A. Times. From what I know personally, and from the logic of his discussion, I take him seriously. You shouldn't dismiss an argument like his critique of the L.A. Times with the ad hominem counterargument that he, too, is biased. Of course he is. We all are. And if he didn't hold an opinion different from that of those who run the Times, why would he bother? Are the Pope or priests the only people allowed to criticize the Church because they aren't biased against it?

5:16 PM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Read this latest post on Patterico's Pontifications. It's a comparison of L.A. Times and Washington Post coverage of the upcoming Iraqi elections. He makes a compelling case.

8:28 PM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...

Patterico looks at the LAT thru the eyes of a partisan. Partisans on the opposite side could just as easily compile a list of things that they wish the LAT had reported on but didn't - thus drawing the conclussion that the LAT is biased in favor of Republicans.I'd like to see it.

9:07 PM, January 02, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

We'll know here in a few weeks which article was closer to reality.

BTW, that poll which the "optimistic" Wa Post cited? It's from an organization called the International Republican Institute. They claim to be nonpartisan and to not be affiliated with the Republican Party. Funny thing is... every single member of it's Board of Directors is a Republican. Ditto for it's Corporate Officers. They all donate money to Republicans. Every single one of them.

Impartial? Unbiased? Maybe. And maybe there's a Tooth Fairy. LOL

12:05 AM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...

The optimism of the Post article had nothing to do with the poll, as you'd know if you had read it. Indeed, the poll results are reported quite pessimistically in the WaPo article. Other than that, great point.

6:12 AM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

I didn't read the article itself. But, I did read your treatment of it... twice. Clearly you felt they were unnecessarily pessimistic about it's numbers. Nevertheless, the poll represents a key point in the different coverage.

Obviously the Administration is concerned about whether enough Sunni will participate in the upcoming election. That's why we've been hearing banter about the possibility of guaranteeing a certain number of government posts to Sunni regardless of whether they win or not... Which begs the question of the alleged "sovereignty" that was handed over to the Iraqis. But, that's another issue.

If most Sunni boycott the election then the Times will be at least indirectly vindicated. If most Sunni participate then the Post will be at least indirectly vindicated.

Question is... if the Times turns out to have been the more accurate predictor, will you post an aknowledgement of that?

10:44 AM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, the International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) are parallel organizations that have field operations in a number of developing countries, with a significant amount of development assistance funding from USAID. I've worked with both of them in the field, and I know how they operate. Both are involved in democracy and governance programs, with NDI focusing somewhat more on elections and IRI on building political parties, developing parliamentary procedures, etc. Both are outstanding organizations with well-deserved reputations for professionalism and non-partisanship. I would accept the fairness and balance of anything either of them does.

You need to move beyond this robotic belief that anything associated with conservatism or Republicans is bad and anything associated with liberalism or Democrats is good.

2:30 PM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...


You've gravely misunderstood my position if you think that I equate anything Democratic or Liberal with good. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm an equal opportunity critic of both major parties as well as both major ideologies.

I tend to side with whichever party is the opposition party because they have incentive to expose the shenanigans of the party in power, whereas the party in power has incentive to cover up and obfuscate their own dirty deeds. When Clinton was Prez most folks assumed I was a rightwinger based on what I was saying. In fact I was called that and worse by Dems for supporting Clinton's Impeachment. But, they mistook my support for the Impeachment on it's merits for support for those who stood to gain politically by impeaching a Democratic President.

That said... I used to be a Conservative Republican. So, perhaps I'm harder on Republicans than I am on Dems. If so, it's not because I like Dems or approve of them more. I don't!

For what it's worth, my voting record stands at about 80% GOP and the remainder Dem with a few exceptions where I've voted 3rd Party as a protest against both major parties. Bob Dole was the last Presidential candidate that I voted for where it wasn't actually just a vote against some other candidate.

6:35 PM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

My apologies if I misread your sympathies. However, I do see a certain tendency to dismiss arguments based on the views of the proponent rather than the facts he offers. I also have to wonder about your readiness to dismiss the IRI poll simply because they are a Republican-sponsored group. IRI and NDI both are good organizations.

That said, Peace!

6:43 PM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

The reality is that every one of us filters the outside world thru out own chosen framework. That's just life. I try to stay aware of it, particularly in the world of politics. So yes, I do take a person's apparant political persuasions in mind when I read their arguments.

I'll take your word for it on IRI and NDI. Thus far you strike me as a straight-up kinda guy and I don't discount that fact.

Perhaps it's just coincidence that a newspaper with a rep for favoring Republicans cited a poll from an outfit run by Republicans which yielded some figures that would seem to be politically advantageous to the Republican inhabiting the White House. I'm not being facetious here. It could all be coincidence. But, you gotta admit those "R's" sure line up in an interesting way, even if it is only coincidence. N'est pas?


7:31 PM, January 03, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...

What I'm saying is that taking the word of partisans like Patterico on this issue is a bit like deciding whether to convert to Hinduism by consulting with Rev. Jerry Falwell or deciding whether to become a Southern Baptist by consulting with the Pope.

It strikes me as intellectually dishonest to ignore the partisanship of a source while at the same time citing that source to out the partisanship of another source.
I'm not asking you to simply take my word for anything. Read my arguments. Check out my sources.

If I say that a Kerry op-ed did not say x, and the LA Times says it did -- read it yourself and make up your own mind.

Simply discounting arguments and sources because the person providing them has an acknowledged point of view is just silly.

8:10 PM, January 07, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

I did read your argument, Pat. Twice... as I said before. And I checked the source for the poll, which whether you wish to admit it or not bears on a crucial point in the differing coverage that you are clearly unhappy with. If 53% of Sunni intend to participate, as the Republican poll claims, then obviously that would allow all sides to claim that the Sunni in fact were adequitely represented and that the resulting election was therefore fair. If less than 50% participate then the game is substantially different for obvious reasons. A great deal is at stake, as all sides have aknowledged.

So you see, I didn't merely discount your argument without checking it out for myself. Which, if you'd followed the thread I don't see how you could have missed.

My question remains unanswered.

If the gist of the Times piece turns out to be the more accurate of the two, will you aknowledge that fact?

2:54 PM, January 10, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...

The language I was quoting related to your complaint about my year-end coverage of the paper, which is a separate topic from the post about the two Iraqi articles.

I'd still like you to respond to that, and I still wonder whether you read my year-end review. It is chock-full of evidence; you don't have trust the messenger. As I said, a nice place to start is the bit about Kerry's op-ed.

Re-read my comment understanding what I was talking about.

Now that we've cleared that up, on to the second topic: the Iraqi elections post.

Look, I don't know how the election returns will shake out (and neither do you). I don't know why 50% is such a magic number, given that, as I said in the post you claim to have read twice, our election turnout in this country is often well below 50%. We'll see. But at least the poll is evidence, rather than the innuendo and insinuation offered in the LAT piece.

I really encourage you to read the year-end review. No doubt, if you're just interested in scoring points, you can find some post and register some minor quibble. But if you're really a fair-minded person, I'd like to know your reaction to the piece as a *whole*. Speculation that someone else could do the same thing for this newspaper from the left is all well and good, but absent any evidence that it's been done, I'll consider it just that: unsupported speculation.

4:27 PM, January 10, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

Yeah... the poll by a group that goes by the name Republican, run exclusively by Republicans and which generated figures that, if true, are politically advantageous to the... Republican in the White House.

How many ducks have to line up before you see a row of 'em?

As for the 50% thing... If you've been following the Palestinian elections then you'll know that the pundits were saying that Abbas had to win by 60% or more in order to be politically viable vis-a-vis his desire to reopen negotiations with Israel. I don't think any of us... politicians, media or citizens hold ourselves to the same standards we expect of others.

The magic 50% Sunni vote would seem to be self-evident. If less than half participate then nobody can legitimately claim that whatever results from the election represents the will of the Iraqi Sunni population... Which, incidently, is where the vast majority of the discontent is reputed to exist. YOu do the math.

For what it's worth, I'm as skeptical of Liberal claims that the media tilts heavily pro-GOP as I am of Conservative claims that the media tilts heavily pro-Dem. I think both are wrong because both confuse cause with effect and thus draw a heavily flawed conclussion.

4:36 PM, January 10, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...

Not one word in your comment about my year-end review. You're the one who declared it worthless, in essence, because I am "partisan" (which I disagree with -- I have a point of view like everyone else, and it's not a party-line point of view at all).

You said you shouldn't have to take the word of a partisan. That is an implication that my review lacks facts -- that I am simply asking people to trust me. WRONG. That is a ridiculous view, because I am not asking you to take my word for anything. Look at my FACTS.

Did you even read my year-end review? (That's the question I asked you before, not whether you had read the post about the Iraqi elections.)

4:57 PM, January 10, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

1. I didn't say that your Year End Review was worthless. I simply pointed out the obvious fact that you're a partisan and that what you posted needs to be understood in that context.

2. I didn't say that your post lacked facts. Nor did I intend to insinuate that. You've built a strawman here, Pat.

Partisans routinely report facts... just not all of them. They report the facts that they feel backs up their conclussion and leave out any facts which don't support that conclussion. Which is what you did.

Let's take one small example from your review part one:

In the section you labeled "The Early Days" you posted how Teresa Heinz-Kerry had pointed at a bowl of chili and asked what it was. The very next line was, "These anecdotes reinforced the image of Kerry and his wife as out-of-touch patricians." Then you pointed out that the Times hadn't reported on it, as if that somehow constitutes bias. At least Kerry was out mixing with the general public. Bush went to rally after rally of prescreened, loyalty-oath-signing members of the choir. And you were miffed 'cause the Times didn't report an insignificant, niave question by Teresa so that you could point and say, "Ha! See, they're out of touch!"?

Seems to me that your real beef with the Times is that they weren't pro-Bush.

That you documented plenty of facts in the review, I will happily stipulate. That you only documented facts which backed up your foregone conclussion and ignored those that didn't... is a very safe bet IMHO.

9:30 PM, January 11, 2005  
Blogger Patterico said...


I'd still like to see any analysis rivalling mine from the other side.

1:04 AM, January 13, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Patterico, I don't think you're ever going to see that counter-analysis. I think all you'll get are continuing claims that you couldn't be right because you don't agree with those who disagree with you. In other words, you're "partisan." Facts hardly matter in circular arguments like this. I've read your analysis of the LA Times in detail, and in my opinion you've nailed them to the wall. Apparently huge numbers of people agree with you, given the Times' slide in circulation and public approval.

2:36 AM, January 13, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

For whatever little it might be worth to you, Tom and Pat, I would be and have been equally skeptical of claims from the other side of the isle vis-a-vis the media being biased in favor of Conservatives. And there most certainly are those on the Left who make that charge - my co-blogger Carla being one of them. Neither side goes out of their way to criticize those aspects of the American media which spin their way 'cause, viewed thru their partisan lenses that's not spin. Which I would think you could understand, Tom, given your recent post about your political label. It's the exact same dynamic.

If either of you had the time or inclination to do so... if you dug thru the archives of the Center Field blog, you'd find comments by me arguing that both ideological sides miss the mark when they attack the media. And that it's not because the media isn't biased. Rather it's the myopic lens thru which both sides view the media that results in the distortions, IMHO.

But... as Dale Carnegie famously stated, "a man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." I don't think either of you will change your minds about this because I don't think either of you want to look at it any differently than you do now. C'est la vie.

11:11 AM, January 13, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Kevin, as I've said repeatedly in my own posts and in comments on other sites, I don't dispute that there is a biased media on the right. Fox is the best example. The problem with the liberal mainstream media is they won't admit their biases and their influence is pervasive, both in the U.S. and abroad. That makes them dangerous. The conservative press doesn't merit the same degree of concern, in my opinion.

To state my position as bluntly as possible: I want to read, hear, and watch media that report facts. Just facts, without the opinions and biases of reporters and editors woven into them and without stories selected or emphasized to further an agenda. I enjoy op-ed pieces, too, but I want them on the op-ed page. I don't think that's too much to ask.

11:44 AM, January 13, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to look at bias in the media, look at the reporting on anything having to do with Marijuana. You'll find that almost all media is stronly in favor of the tyranical status quo which makes criminals out of peaceful people growing an herb in their windowbox.

The bias of the mainstream media is neither right nor left.

The bias of the mainstream media is 'corporate consumerism'. Anything that forwards the idea that we need to buy things to be happy is published. Anything that forwards the idea that we can by happy without buying things we don't need is not.

Simple, really.
Anonymous Coward

4:10 PM, August 17, 2006  

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