Los Angeles Times’ columnist Tim Ruttten writes every Saturday about media, and this morning examines not the sins of his colleague Michael Hiltzik, but the opinions of Bill Bennett, Powerline’s Scott Johnson, and me.
Legacy media accepts no criticism, you see, and although Bennett’s and Johnson’s criticisms of the Pultizers awarded to various national security-endangering, leak-loving MSMers are widely shared (and closely argued as one would expect from these men who are both superb students of history and lawyers), Rutten goes after Bennett and Johnson because they dared to question the self-serving accounts of the new Pulitzer honorees.
Rutten does not confront their arguments, of course, and his thread bare response would be laughable even in a week that didn’t feature a major media melt-down at his own paper.
But it has been 48 hours of Hiltzik, and Rutten knows it and comments on it at the end of his column, though not directly about Hiltzik:
In this case, what you have is the latest extension of the right wing’s mantra-like criticism of the American news media. Like the constant hum of traffic, it now seems an unavoidable part of our contemporary life. It’s interesting to recall that it began as a perfectly reasonable ‘” indeed, beneficial ‘” discussion of unexamined bias in newspaper and broadcast journalism and of news outlets’ institutional lethargy when it came to correcting errors. As it turns out, though, addressing those things isn’t what the critics have in mind. They don’t want an unbiased news media, they want a press that reflects their bias.
They’d like a press that is wholly blue or wholly red, one that stops bothering a nation increasingly divided in this very fashion with inconvenient facts and doubts. That was a sentiment that came through with particular clarity this week, when the Los Angeles Times was forced to suspend columnist Michael Hiltzik’s blog after it was revealed that he had posted comments on the Internet and this paper’s own website under false names. An editor’s note regarding the decision was published Friday and the circumstances surrounding Hiltzik’s conduct are being examined.
The incident has provoked a kind of cybernetic thunderstorm, and one of the most revealing claps came from talk show host Hugh Hewitt, who used his popular blog to argue against what The Times had done.
In his view, “The paper should admit that their journalists are just polemicists who carry their opinions with them into battles they care deeply about. They are as biased as the day is long and getting longer. They aren’t objective, and never have been’