Before you conclude that the Times’ worst bit of agenda journalism of the morning is the unintentionally hilarious headline –above the fold, no less– Cheney Lacked $7 Hunting Credential,” be sure to read the hit piece on Congressman Richard Pombo which while also front page is below-the-fold: “Foe of Endangered Species Act on Defensive Over Abramoff.”
The paper’s long record of ESA boosterism reaches a new high with this howler. Previously the paper had given extensive coverage of the entry into a primary race against Congressman Richard Pombo of old Pete McCloskey, and today’s story gives McCloskey a direct mail hit piece headline linking the pro-ESA reform Pombo to Abramoff. Nice work by the hack partisans pretending to be “Objective” journalists.
Read the story carefully. The headline promises an Abramoff connection, right? And paragraph three asserts that “Pombo finds himself on the defensive, with his ideology increasingly viewed as extreme and his connections to industry and to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff under scrutiny.”
So what’s the connection? And where’s the evidence he’s on “the defensive?”
In paragraph 25 of the story, we learn that a “Massachusetts tribe and client of Abramoff’s that donated $20,000 to Pombo recieved the congressman’s help in seeking federal tribal recognition.”
In paragraph 23, there is the assertion that “a former committee aide who once worked for Abramoff’s firm and is now a lobbyist for mining interests hosted a $1,000-a-head fundraiser for Pombo.”
That’s it. Really. In 43 paragraphs of anti-Pombo bashing, the headline is supported by those two sentences. It is a naked attack piece on Pombo, pure and simple. I doubt any other major paper in America would clear such an article for publication. It ought to be an embarassment for the paper, but of course the Times is beyond embarassment.
Search the Times online site for “Reid and Abramoff” and you will find zero stories.
But Pombo gets a headline linking him to Abramoff?
The Times dutifully notes, in paragraph 27:
Pombo denies any improprieties and says he has no fear of being tainted by the Abramoff scandal. “I met the guy a few times. He never lobbied me on anything. Never set foot in my office.”
The Times is over the cliff, completely unhinged in its news judgment, and all the barriers against bias are down when it comes to political coverage. There must literally be no one left in the news room to say “Hey, isn’t that headline misleading?” or “Is this really the sort of stuff a serious nwspaper puts on its front page?”
Pombo won his 11th District race with 61% of the vote in 2004, and will again win handily in 2006 despite the Times’ attempt to smear him with an Abramoff connection. The story told us nothing about the alleged Pombo-Abramoff connection, but provided a great deal of evidence that when it comes to political news, the Los Angeles Times is operating as an arm of the Democratic Party.