Richard Riordan’s amusingly erratic career took a novel turn last week when he announced a media venture far more quixotic than his gubernatorial run: He plans to launch a Los Angeles newspaper to challenge the dominance of the Los Angeles Times.
“This town needs a paper that’s going to put our city more into perspective and show more respect for the city,” Riordan said to The Associated Press. He wants an “alternative” voice to the Times.
Riordan’s desire for a contrast to the Times is, of course, welcome. But is he the man to supply it? The former Los Angeles mayor got his clock cleaned in the California Republican primary precisely because he ran as a barely-disguised Democrat in the mold of Los Angeles Times liberalism.
Riordan says that he intends to wade into journalism as “editor-in-chief” of this new paper. But it is hard to imagine Riordan’s editorial page offering opinions any less politically correct than those that appear in the pages of the Los Angeles Times.
Still, Riordan’s distaste for the Times is widely-shared. There are plenty of chagrined readers he could easily pick off from the Times, even if his “alternative” is low-powered.
Riordan should take heart in a recent admission from the Los Angles Times’ editors that nearly 1,000 of its subscribers pulled the plug on delivery for a day as a form of protest against the paper’s Arafat-coddling coverage. Members of Los Angeles’s Jewish community timed the protest to coincide with the 54th anniversary of Israeli independence. Jewish readers also bombarded the Times with an estimated 900 calls, officials at the paper acknowledged.
Times Editor John Carroll defended the coverage. “Our goal is to provide coverage that is both fair and complete,” he said. “We feel that we serve our readership by covering all aspects and points of view.”
“Some readers may take exception to specific articles, but I am confident that, over time, careful readers of this newspaper will get a full, balanced account of these unsettling events,” he said.
Careful readers of the Times will only see an endless stream of staggering bias. Take last Friday’s front-page love letter to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The Times’ reporter David G. Savage got positively misty-eyed over the liberal dinosaur.
“A Justice Born for the Ages,” the Times headlined the article, with the subhead: “John Paul Stevens turns 82 on Saturday and is the oldest Supreme Court member. And he’s still one of the best thinkers and writers on the bench.”
Stevens is not mean like his colleagues, reports Savage: “Unfailingly courteous, Stevens never attacks the lawyers, mocks their arguments or wisecracks at their expense.” Savage declares him the Supreme Court’s “most polite justice,” gushing that he “has the buoyant energy of a person decades younger, and he remains one of the court’s quickest wits, sharpest thinkers and best writers.”
Savage assures us that Stevens “was lauded from the start as exceedingly smart, strictly nonpartisan and highly independent.” Savage then calls Stevens’ pro-Gore dissent in the Florida recount case “memorable.”
Stevens, Savage continues, isn’t lazy like his colleagues — “Unlike his colleagues, he insists on writing his own opinions — has “good health,” provides a “lively presence” on the bench, speaks against the “conservative activism” of the other justices, and offers “prescient” dissents. In short, Stevens is the second coming of Solomon.
Why all the sucking up to Stevens? The Times is terrified at the prospect of his retirement. “His good health and energetic presence have enormous significance for the court and the law. Stevens has been a key figure in the 5-4 majority that supports the right to abortion. If he were to depart, President Bush would have an opportunity to create an antiabortion majority,” writes Savage.
Could you imagine the Times writing a piece about Antonin Scalia titled “A Justice Born for the Ages”? Hardly. But maybe Riordan’s rag will take a shot at it. Then again, the Brentwood liberal probably won’t.
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