That’s Los Angeles Times media critic Tim Rutten on Rosie O’Donnell, talking to me in an interview we conducted yesterday (the transcript is here.) Rutten, the media critic, hadn’t heard the famous exchange from The View so I played it for him and used the ethics of keeping Rosie on air to jump to the news organization he works for. We also range over the sale of The Tribune Company to Sam Zell, the Andres Martinez resignation, the deathly dull nature of the paper, and who’s to blame. Some samples:
HH: Do you have any responsibility, Tim Rutten, for the poor performance of the newspaper over the last seven years?
TR: Do I personally have any?
TR: No, I think I’ve done about as well as I could.
HH: Do any of your colleagues in the newsroom have any responsibility?
TR: Sure. Some of them do.
HH: Which ones?
TR: Oh, I don’t…I’m not going to go there, you know that.
HH: Well, you just blasted Rosie O’Donnell…
TR: That’s not what I do.
HH: …for not naming names after saying there was a conspiracy theory.
HH: You just blasted Rosie O’Donnell for not naming names after asserting that someone brought down the building.
HH: You’re saying that some people in the newsroom hurt the paper, but you’re not going to name names. What’s the difference?
TR: What’s the difference? Those people in the newsroom, whatever they did or did not do, my judgment about that would be entirely subjective. They’re individuals who haven’t advanced any preposterous idea of this sort. You can’t hold the views that Rosie O’Donnell expressed on that show and be either a rational person or a person of good will. That’s the difference.
and this, on Mickey Kaus:
HH: It’s Hugh Hewitt with Tim Rutten, media critic at the Los Angeles Times, the troubled and flailing about Los Angeles Times. Tim Rutten, have you been reading Mickey Kaus’ commentary on you and the paper?
TR: No, I can’t say that I have.
HH: Do you ever read Mickey?
TR: Oh, once in a while, yeah.
HH: Tim Rutten, do you have any idea of how damned dull your newspaper has become?
TR: Do I have any idea of how damned dull? God, I hope you don’t include me in that, Hugh. Parts of it are dull, yeah. Parts of it are dull. It’s a problem, it’s a problem for newspapers generally.
HH: No, it’s not. I mean, I read the Washington Post everyday, I read the Wall Street Journal everyday, I even force myself to read the New York Times, I read the Boston Globe. I can’t read your newspaper. It’s dreadful, Tim. You guys have killed a great…it’s not the Chandlers. It’s you people.
TR: Well, you know, Hugh, you and I just disagree about that.
and, finally, my favorite small exchange:
HH: But can you name for me the conservative columnist who is full-time at the Los Angeles Times?
TR: Who is full-time?
TR: We don’t have a full-time political columnist at the newspaper.
HH: No, are any full-time columnists at the Los Angeles Times conservative?
TR: Not that I would characterize…I think not that you would recognize as conservative, no.
HH: Or that you would. I mean, they’re just not there.
TR: That I would? No.
HH: Okay, are there liberal columnists at the Los Angeles Times?
HH: How many of them?
TR: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t think about my colleagues that [w]ay.
My post on Tim from yesterday is here. Kudos for him agreeing to come on. Cue the fat lady.