LA Times Is Relevant – Why?

This is just too damn funny to pass up. Mickey Kaus (Mickey! permalinks, dammit!) shows up in my RSS feed (plus as a link in Instapundit) reprinting the following email from LA Times blog editor Tony Pierce:

From: “Pierce, Tony”

Date: July 24, 2008 10:54:41 AM PDT

To: [XXX]

Subject: john edwards

Hey bloggers,

There has been a little buzz surrounding John Edwards and his alleged affair. Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.

If you have any questions or are ever in need of story ideas that would best fit your blog, please don’t hesitate to ask

Keep rockin,

Tony

Now this is funny as hell on any number of levels. The obvious one is that the newspaper of record believes that it must preclude writers working for it from covering a story – not set standards for how, not make sure that they added facts, not anything at all except gag them. That’s wrong, simply put.

But coming from Tony Pierce, who appeared as the topic of a post here when he made wild fact-free accusations against Pajamas Media (where Insty posts now, completing the weird self-reflective nature of the whole thing) – well, that’s just jam on my morning toast.

108 thoughts on “LA Times Is Relevant – Why?”

  1. Shoilee, you can read, so can I ask you to point me to the language in the email that says “please don’t publish anything on this without new verified facts” or “please make sure the factcheckers review your claims before you publish them”? Because I’ve looked and looked and somehow can’t find them.

    And your take on his CIA/Pajamas piece? The sourcing on that was a little thin by even your standards, no?

    A.L.

  2. A.L.:

    Can you point to anything in the e-mail which “precludes” or “gags” any reference to the National Enquirer story by LA Times bloggers? Asking employees not to blog about something that appeared in a gossip sheet that is notorious for making up stories is not the same as forbidding them from covering the rumors.

  3. It’s kind of odd/funny that if you go to the LA Times website and search for “John Edwards” on their search engine, you end up with links like:

    “The Democratic Ticket and the John Edwards Affair. From The Corner | July
    24, 2008″

    “John Edwards’ Love Child? Tabloid claims they caught Edwards visiting mistress; he denies affair http://www.Newser.com/BreakingNews

  4. The National Enquirer has run stories that George W. Bush has resumed drinking, that he has been in physical altercations with his wife, and that their marriage is headed for divorce.

    I would gladly trade some MSM coverage of John Edwards’s bastard for exposure of the White House’s belligerent drunkard.

  5. Hello AL,

    Isn’t your question, _can I ask you to point me to the language in the email that says “please don’t publish anything on this without new verified facts” or “please make sure the factcheckers review your claims before you publish them”? _

    pretty much answered here: _Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations._

    Isn’t saying we don’t cover rumor and salacious speculation another– and pretty clear — way of saying we don’t publish anything without new verified facts?

    I’m totally mystified by your objections to the decision to not reprint rumors.

  6. AJL – well, you’ll note that I didn’t post anything about the Edwards stuff either; amusing as they may be, I don’t see the claims as massively blogworthy. But the Times precluding their bloggers from saying anything on the subject? – that’s news.

    mark – again, he didn’t say “don’t recirculate the rumors, etc. He said – explicitly – “I am asking you all not to blog about this topic” that’s a very significant distinction.

    And it ought to piss you off as well that the bloggers are being muzzled – no matter what side they are being muzzled from.

    A.L.

  7. But bloggers are not being “muzzled”. How can they be? Doesn’t the fact that we’re all discussing this here disprove this?

    What I really think you’re objecting to is your own personal, subjective interpretation of this email (or should I say the impression you’ve acquired after reading about Kaus’concerns). Both of your major points….that there is no effort to communicate a standard, and that the email is censorship, are easily refutable.

    Basically your argument comprises an overly narrow reading of the first issue (as mark points out above as the specific example motivating my initial post) and an overly broad reading of the second (that “asking” someone not to blog about a topic is equivalent to “bloggers being muzzled”).

    And as such, this rant is completely void of meaning or purpose other than to express outrage on your part and, seemingly, to illustrate your very personal bias and inability to see beyond it.

  8. AL, I don’t think they are being muzzled. They are being asked. For a reason. The sentence that begins with “Because” is followed by one that begins with “So,” indicating–at least to me– a clear connection between the two ideas. Please don’t blog about rumors. See WindsorChange.net comment policy for other types of blogging dos and donts. It seems to me to be a short, polite email with a polite request and the reasoning behind the request, which, in my opinion, is a sound one.

  9. Smith: _Can you point to anything in the e-mail which “precludes” or “gags” any reference to the National Enquirer story by LA Times bloggers?_

    The established means and methods from the last time the Enquirer ran a story on this topic was that the LA Times “censored the blogger, and then censored the blogger’s view that it was censorship.”:http://patterico.com/2007/10/13/la-times-blog-post-about-edwardss-alleged-affair-vanishes-into-thin-air/

  10. Is the Armed Liberal person suggesting that his is the only valid interpretation of this email?

    Although I think his reference to the Right wing hack Glen Reynolds as \”Insty\” tips his hand to let us know whose dealing him pretty clearly.

  11. PD, it’s been years–decades, actually–since I last worked for a newspaper but way back then it was considered an editor’s job to decide what got printed and what didn’t. If an editor kills a story in her own paper, is that censorship? Is assigning coverage muzzling? If I send a story to Entertainment Weekly about homelessness in Cairo and they don’t run it, am I being censored? Is it such a bad thing if an editor refuses to print a story based on rumor? Or refuses to publish comments about a rumor? I would argue that any independent media operation–such as a website–has a perfect right to decide what type or style of content it wishes to publish. I don’t think that is censorship. Censorship would be when an outside entity, such as the government, doesn’t allow an independent entity to publish what it wishes to. Of course, I am very old-fashioned.

  12. The “hey bloggers” and “keep rockin” tags reek of nervous ingratiation. Tony Pierce must be Fun Boss of the Year – I’ll bet he’s got a huge fake rictus grin, too.

    Since the LA Times is not a high school newspaper – not yet – I would think that the purpose of a blog editor would be to keep blogs in line with standards, not direct their content. I thought reporter’s blogs were supposed to be a place where a reporter could hold forth, at least to some extent, without being red-penciled by an editor.

    The LAT’s blogs are their business and their problem, but how incredibly stupid can they be to do something like this. These are not the old days, when an editor could spike a story and confidently expect it to die. That old hierarchy is long dead and buried.

    Mickey Kaus has more readers than everyone at LAT put together, so if they’d just let their bloggers blog they’d have attracted less attention.

  13. We have a new source:

    _”A hotel security guard told FOXNews.com he intervened this week between a man he identified as former Sen. John Edwards and tabloid reporters who chased down the former presidential hopeful after what they’re calling a rendezvous with his mistress and love child._

    _The Beverly Hilton Hotel guard said he encountered a shaken and ashen-faced Edwards — whom he did not immediately recognize — in a hotel men’s room early Tuesday morning in a literal tug-of-war with reporters on the other side of the door._”

    “link”:http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,391426,00.html

    So I guess we see how fast this Tony Pierce revokes this order? Heh. We’ll see.

  14. You must be joking, Mark. The Enquirer is a more credible source than Fox News!

    Here are just a few excerpts from that link to illustrate where THEY are coming from:

    —-
    As recently as last month, individuals vetting vice presidential candidates for Barack Obama had listed Edwards as a potential running mate. Edwards was viewed as a candidate who could help Obama appeal to white, working-class voters who had favored Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

    Edwards, who was John Kerry’s running mate in 2004, endorsed Obama in May, saying the presumptive presidential nominee held the same views he did about uniting a divided America.

    Before and during the Democratic primaries, Edwards urged all candidates to boycott planned debates on FOX News, even though he had made prior appearances on the channel. One of those debates was to be sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.
    —-

    As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t care less whether 1) this is true, or 2) it puts the kibosh on Edwards as a Veep choice (there are much stronger ones out there).

    But what I am anticipating as well, and which the LA Times might also be trying–for once–to be cautious about, is feeding the right wing Media Frenzy that will certainly attempt to use this against OBAMA.

  15. “This WSJ Article”:http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB112112943151382925-2BA_Sl382M6mnOHvwzP7qfXByqQ_20060711.html?mod=blogs is old, but has some interesting observations about newspaper blogs, and some interesting arguments against them.

    The big argument is that they’re risky, because a newspaper can be held liable for unedited blogs, same as for edited stories. Yet this doesn’t seem to have been much of a problem. It certainly wouldn’t be a problem in the case of Edwards, who couldn’t sue LAT for commenting on a tabloid story – this isn’t Great Britain.

    Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said blogs often are at odds with the traditional role of a reporter. “We expect in the American tradition to maintain this role of detached observer and not cheerleader or insider, and blogs for the most part trade on…the idea of inside information and commentary,” she said.

    When the editors of major news organizations are making a mockery of detached observation, making reporters toe a line is mere bullying.

  16. _”You must be joking, Mark. The Enquirer is a more credible source than Fox News!”_

    Shoilee, its sometimes difficult to tell if you are a troll or a kool-aid drinker.

  17. Shoilee, you’re worrying me just a little bit here – “But bloggers are not being “muzzled”. How can they be? Doesn’t the fact that we’re all discussing this here disprove this?

    Look, if you don’t understand the issue, it’s best not to speak up and let everyone know about it.

    The issue isn’t that the Times has some power to make me not write about this. It’s that the head Times blogger – they guy who they all report to – has directed them not to blog on the topic.

    mark – I don’t believe that this is a 1st Amendment issue by any stretch, but it’s certainly newsworthy that the major news source (for now) in Los Angeles has shut down the free commentary by its bloggers on a story. Again – not set quality, not ensure reporting standards, not checking facts – just don’t talk about it. I’m puzzled about why you’re defending this except as a kneejerk partisan response…

    A.L.

  18. mark: _I don’t think that is censorship._

    I agree. I was quoting Patterico, which is probably not clear because I used the quote as a hyperlink. Censorship involves the government.

    The larger point is that based upon LA Times past practices, any blogging on the Affair Edwards will result in removal of at least some content as determined by unknown editors and lawyers. Best not even to go there.

    But like “Rock On Dude!” We’re cool and hip and not subject to any old fogey conventions. Go out and blog (but please read the fine print; offer may not be available to all LA Times bloggers or their commentors)

  19. But what I am anticipating as well, and which the LA Times might also be trying–for once–to be cautious about, is feeding the right wing Media Frenzy that will certainly attempt to use this against OBAMA.

    Undoubtedly true, but is this a defense? An ostensibly objective news media’s should not make decide which stories to cover based on the potential political impact. At that point they cease to be doing news and have become a propaganda outlet.

    And if it were Fox doing this for McCain, you’d have no trouble identifying the problem.

  20. I’ll take that one step further- I absolutely agree part of this editorial decision WAS to protect Obama. This is a good thing? Would the LaT go out of its way to protect McCain?

  21. I’d rather think that suggesting Fox News is not a nakedly partisan and biased media outlet for the Republican party would involve a fair dose of Kool-Aid taken over a long period, Mark. Especially when you seem to be suggesting that Fox’s interest in the story automatically elevates it above the sourcing standards that another media outlet might set.

    And as far as “troll”, that epithet is sadly inevitable if one confronts people as directly as they do others in any place such as this where the majority of people are on the opposite ideological side. It’s a rather meaningless ad hominem hurled at commenters when arguments go beyond what some feel compelled, or capable, of engaging.

    Of course it is a loaded term online and is frequently used to justify banning people with opposing views. I sincerely hope that attempting to play the “troll card” was not an effort to lay the ground work for this here. I don’t think the irony inherent in this, on this thread, would go without notice.

  22. As to the Enquirer’s credibility, I would have thought the examples of RatherGate, Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Janet Cooke, (should I go on?) would lead an informed consumer of the news to take any story from any source with a grain of salt, and sometimes a whole shaker. The question should always be, can the story be corroborated?

    I would advise those who are selling credibility in exchange for Edwards’ reputation to be prepared for the possibility that The Enquirer plans to milk the incident for all the checkout impulse buys it can. (“Shocking New Hotel Chase Pictures! (Video Online!)”… “First Look: Edwards Love Child!”… “Edwards’ Fall Guy’s Wife Speaks Out!”… “Edwards Refuses DNA Testing!”… etc.) It won’t be pretty, but you needed stand in the way of the mud yourselves.

  23. Exactly. Fox is a reputable news source that happens to lean right, just as virtually every other traditional media outlet in America happens to lean left.

    But regardless, Shoilee is giddilly shooting the messenger. Lets talk about the source- are you suggesting he is lying or that Evil Fox News invented him out of whole cloth?

    The reason i brought up the ‘troll-card’ is because too often i’ve seen you derail threads by throwing out provacative non sequitars like this blast against Fox News that really only seems useful in changing the subject.

  24. AL,

    _I’m puzzled about why you’re defending this except as a kneejerk partisan response…_

    I’ll try to explain. Here is the relevant passage of the email in its entirety:

    _Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified._

    I don’t merely defend this, I applaud it. It has nothing to do with partisanship. It has to do with standards, decency, fairness. I don’t like it when the media deal in rumors about the sexual activities of public officials or celebrities. I especially don’t like it when the media pretend they are not dealing in rumor by reporting other media reports about rumor. I respect any media outlet that refuses to engage in such sleaze. In this particular case, however, based upon the email, there’s not so much a refusal but a request. I don’t see anything wrong with asking people not to spread this type of rumor by writing about it. It makes perfect sense to me. I think an editor should be allowed to impose decency standards. He’s certainly free to request adherence to such standards.

    BTW, he’s clearly asking people not to talk about it _absent any facts_. He’s not asking anybody to not discover facts. I think you are ignoring the conditional nature of the imperative. At least that’s how I read the email. But I have never read the LA Times and I don’t read any of these other blogs. So I am going strictly by the email and taking it at face value as written. You seem to have an opinion of the guy that may colour your interpretation or, on the other hand, allow you to read more correctly between the lines than me.

  25. _Asking employees not to blog about something that appeared in a gossip sheet that is notorious for making up stories …_

    I guess that means they can’t blog about the L.A. Times, then.

  26. bq. #19 The issue isn’t that the Times has some power to make me not write about this. It’s that the head Times blogger – they guy who they all report to – has directed them not to blog on the topic.

    I really don’t think your snarky tone is justified in any way in light of the fact that you are once again making claims that are simply not substantiated by the facts.

    1) No one “directed” anyone. The man is an editor doing what editors do, in every media outlet, every minute of every day.

    2) The fact that the LA Times asked their bloggers to refrain from posting (from contributing to a blogswarm) before confirming sources was not only appropriate, but in light of the fact that the issue has been given a lot of attention anyway ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme. If suppression of opinion by a media outlet is your concern, and their efforts fail to do that, then it is very much relevant to this argument as it calls into question the basis for your criticism.

    #22 I guess you missed Katie Couric’s interview with McCain this past week that CBS edited to spare their viewers from being exposed to McCain’s confusion over the Surge timeline? Not LA Times but nevertheless a good example I think of just what you’re asking for.

  27. bq. The reason i brought up the ‘troll-card’ is because too often i’ve seen you derail threads by throwing out provacative non sequitars like this blast against Fox News that really only seems useful in changing the subject.

    Mark, I think you’re going off the rails all on your own. You’re the one who introduced Fox News into this conversation, not me, apparently for reasons I pointed out in #23.

    If you think that refuting this is nothing more than “shooting the messenger” than once again your inability to recognize the tactics that are used on an almost daily basis by Fox themselves and its Far Right supporters is absolutely stunning. As is your inability to argue the issue on its merits.

  28. Shoilee, you’re killing me here. I’m on a conference call and had to mute so the giggling didn’t come through.

    No one “directed” anyone. The man is an editor doing what editors do, in every media outlet, every minute of every day.

    …which is to ‘direct’ the people who work for him.

    The fact that the LA Times asked their bloggers to refrain from posting (from contributing to a blogswarm) before confirming sources was not only appropriate, but in light of the fact that the issue has been given a lot of attention anyway ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme.

    No, they told them to shut up. There’s nothing conditional about it, there was no “we want you to back off this until we finish reporting the story” – nothing to suggest that they wanted to keep the bloggers from contributing to rumor until fact could be ascertained. Unless there are words in the email that I’m not seeing.

    Nice partisan tu quoque there as a finish. The Russian judge gives it a 6.

    A.L.

  29. #30

    bq. mark, the plain meaning of what he wrote is 180 degrees away from what you’re suggesting.

    Plain to who??? For the love of pete….this is YOUR VIEW, which you cannot seem to recognize as highly subjective. Can you not recognize that people might see it differently? You need to conduct a poll?

    OK well here ya go: I do not share it.

    I’ll refer you to my comments in #9 as being an appropriate response to this.

  30. #30 (AL): The thing that can’t be determined from available context is whether “ask” means “tell” coming from this person. The “Keep on rockin’ [just don’t rock topic {x}]” sounds to me rather corny in an Office / Pointy-Haired Boss way, but I don’t know this guy. So my Magic 8-Ball says “Reply Hazy”.

  31. _Let’s ask the crowd how they read it…folks?_

    I think the email was written at the insistence of lawyers to scare their bloggers into avoiding the topic with plausible deniability that’s what is happending. The fact that a blogger sent the letter to Kaus tells us something about the reaction. The only question is how much was written by lawyers and how much by Tony. I think “Keep Rockin'” was written by lawyers.

  32. 1) No one “directed” anyone. The man is an editor doing what editors do, in every media outlet, every minute of every day.

    Well, that may be, especially if the “bloggers” are actual employees of the paper (At this point I assume they are, but I’m on the other coast and never read the L.A. Times in any format, so I don’t really know.) The trouble here is these folks are called “bloggers” and not “reporters” or “columnists”, so there’s the implication of independence that is, shall we say, disingenuous.

    Which of course gets back to the root problem of Old Media not understanding (or at the very least not respecting) the conventions of the New Media. Or, call that pig Uma all you want, she ain’t gonna be starring in Kill Bill Vol. 3.

  33. bq. I’m on a conference call and had to mute so the giggling didn’t come through.

    This explains a lot, doesn’t it?

    I would suggest that you come back when you can devote all your attention to the matter. Because your half-baked comments in this idiotic thread clearly indicate that you clearly need to pay more attention to what you’re reading and what your saying to hold a reasonable debate here.

  34. Shoilee, do you work? Do you have a boss? When your boss “asks” you to do something is that the same as your neighbor asking you to borrow a drill? I’d love to know…

    A.L.

  35. If it wasn’t written by a lawyer, then it was the Manager of Chotchkie’s:

    Stan, Chotchkie’s Manager: “We need to talk about your flair.”
    Joanna: “Really? I-I have 15 pieces on. I also–”
    Stan: “Well, 15 is the minimum, okay?”
    Joanna: “Oh, okay.”
    Stan: “Now, you know, it’s up to you whether or not you wanna just do the bare minimum or, uh– Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pieces of flair on today. And a terrific smile.”
    Joanna: “Okay, so you want me to wear more?”
    Stan: “Look, Joanna–”
    Joanna: “Yeah?”
    Stan: “People can get a cheeseburger anywhere, okay?”
    Joanna: “They come to Chotchkie’s for the atmosphere and the attitude. Okay? That’s what the flair’s about. It’s about fun.”
    Stan: “Yeah. Okay, so more then, yeah?”
    Joanna: “Look, we want you to express yourself. Okay? Now, if you feel that the bare minumum is enough, then okay. But some people choose to wear more and we encourage that. Okay? You do wanna express yourself, don’t you?”
    Stan: “Y-Yeah.”
    Joanna: “Okay, great, great. That’s all I ask.”
    Stan: “Okay.”

    “Office Space”:http://www.moviewavs.com/Movies/Office_Space.html

  36. AL

    _Unless there are words in the email that I’m not seeing._

    I think there are. I will highlight some.

    “_Because_ the _only source_ has been the National Enquirer we have decided _not to cover_ the _rumors_ or salacious speculations. So I am _asking_ you all not to blog about this topic _until_ further notified.

    Let me paraphrase: Since this story has no credible source behind it, we shouldn’t spread rumors we don’t know to be true by repeating them.

    Let me add what I believe is unwritten. Given that the National Enquirer has a very long history of repeatedly reporting unfounded celebrity gossip and since the NE is the ONLY source for the Edwards story, let’s keep away from this story until and unless it can be verified by more credible outlets or else we may find ourselves talking about Madonna giving birth to aliens and JFK being alive on a ranch in Argentina.

  37. OK mark, let me take a moment and try again.

    “Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic [unless you have facts to offer that pass reportorial muster] until further notified.”

    “Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations [until the story – if it is a story – can be reported with some grounding in fact]. So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified [, and I’ll let you know as soon as the local desk has something they plan to run].”

    Mine mean what you claim his mean.

    A.L.

  38. AL, your insertions I take as having been implied in the original. The reason for the hold was stated. It’s common sense that if that reason becomes inoperative, then so does the hold. Since this was not a public statement but an email among a handful of colleagues, it seems kind of….well, sorry but this is what I think: petty to find the kind of fault you find simply because the obvious wasn’t spelled out.

    If I say “because it’s raining I’m asking you to not take these CDs out of their plastic holders” and IT STOPS RAINING, I think most people would feel okay about removing the plastic holders, don’t you?

  39. bq. Let’s ask the crowd how they read it…folks?

    As a working dude, the boss saying that would be CLEAR direction to me to NOT write about that subject.

    OTOT – Shoilee = troll

    [ROFLMAO]

  40. mark, that’s certainly an interpretation; but there’s an important point that we can use as a razor between the two interpretations.

    Obviously if there are new facts – if Edwards shows up at the Times building and gives a press conference acknowledging the baby – there’s a new story, and no one is (I think) imagining that this precludes that happening.

    But what’s missing is any sense that absent Edwards calling that press conference, the Times is doing anything about the story. That’s OK too – they get to choose what they want to cover (Arnold’s groping – yes, Edwards mistress – no) and that’s their editorial vision which they stand or fall on.

    What’s not remotely OK to me is that he’s yanking his bloggers out of the story without any consideration of whether they have anything to add to the story – without any of the internal dialog that would determine if the story isn’t being covered because it’s all scurrilous rumor or a real story. Bluntly, if I was a reporter and got directed not to cover a story that way I’d question the ethics of the organization I work for. And if I was a corporate blogger and was flatly told not to touch a sensitive subject like this, I’d quit blogging.

    A.L.

  41. AL, Again, all I can go by is the simple text of a private email and its plain English meaning. BECAUSE we don’t know if this is true, don’t blog about it. I don’t see any injunctions to reporters not to investigate. I see the editor of a blog asking bloggers not to talk about it BECAUSE it’s unfounded rumor. If it ceases to be unfounded rumor, then clearly, the situation would be different. You keep ignoring the “because,” which allows you to pretend that that the request is not connected to anything and without clear purpose.

    I think it is a reasonable desire on the part of the LAT to keep discussion of sexual rumors off its blogs. To me, this guy is acting like a Marshall.

  42. “If I say “because it’s raining I’m asking you to not take these CDs out of their plastic holders” and IT STOPS RAINING, I think most people would feel okay about removing the plastic holders, don’t you?”

    What about “I’m asking you to not take these CDs out of their plastic holders *until further notified*”?

  43. It would be interesting to know how many news organizations sent out reporters trying to test the National Enquirer story (besides Fox). There appear to have been falsifiable assertions in the story as opposed to the more typical “confidential sources claim . . .”

  44. In reply to #30

    Shoilee, Andrew Lazarus, mark: More correct interpretation.

    Armed Liberal, others. Wrong interpretation, biased and silly.

    “What’s not remotely OK to me is that he’s yanking his bloggers out of the story.”

    I think the twin comments of mark and Shoilee pretty much sum it all up here. mark points out that there’s no indication that the editor has done any such thing other than to discourage posting on the subject, not further investigation (implied by your interpretation of the comment as “yanking…out of the story”).

    And Shoilee is spot on in questioning your reasoning and thinking abilities and inability to recognize any other viewpoint but yours, in light of these continued misinterpretations.

    Sorry, but you asked.

  45. GRalston – when you open with “right wing hack” you pretty much devalue anything else that comes along.

    Want to make an argument supporting your claim, or are you just chumming?

    A.L.

  46. AJL #6 and mark #40 —

    The National Enquirer may not be the publication you think it is–the one it was when I was growing up. It’s still scummy. But for many years, it hasn’t been Madonna giving birth to aliens and JFK being alive on a ranch in Argentina scummy.

    Recall that many of the OJ Simpson stories were broken by the NE.

    It’s interesting to leaf through an issue (for me, that’s at the grocery store checkout). The way to read is to ask, “when the subject of this story makes his appointment with a libel lawyer, what’ll that lawyer say to him?”

    Sometimes the phrasings are artful, so that an article with an !!Explosive Headline!! turns out to be about something much milder or vaguer than it seems. Often, there’s room for the magazine to walk back. For example, take the NE story AJL referenced about “Bush’s binge drinking.”:http://www.nationalenquirer.com/celebrity/63426 The revelation at its core:

    bq. Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster. His worried wife yelled at him: “Stop, George.”

    So, (1) Prez won’t stoop to sue NE, and (2) NE’s lawyers would have a field day defending the mild and vague accusation at the story’s core.

    (By the way, AJL, that’s the only NE story that your source links, the others are to space-alien tabloids. Irrelevant to the credibility of the Edwards story, as he probably knew even if you didn’t.)

    Now look at “the NE’s piece on Edwards.”:http://www.nationalenquirer.com/sen_john_edwards_caught_with_mistress_and_love_child_in_la_hotel/celebrity/65193 It is full of details–dates, times, names, actions, locations, room numbers. And very specific charges. If they had made this up, Edwards’ attorneys would already be having a field day. Writing this way, NE’s editors are signaling that they are very confident indeed that they can meet the libel law standard for public figures.

    “Low-class” and “fabricated” aren’t the same thing. If the LA Times is waving their reporters and bloggers off the Edwards-love-child saga, I doubt very much that it’s on the basis that it is false. The media wants to cover some seamy stories, and they want to ignore others. So they do, for as long as they can.

    Business Week is right: these media judgments are a story in their own right.

  47. bq. Want to make an argument supporting your claim.

    This is not a complex subject. All the necessary arguments have been made in exquisite detail. If you’re still asking for more, I think you’re just playing games at this point, perhaps hoping for an opponent who might also be on a conference call and only capable of mounting an effort equally incoherent and feeble as yours.

  48. PD, as I said, I’ve never read the LAT before so I’m in the dark. As I’ve also said, I’m taking the text of the email at face value. On it’s face, it seems like a prudent judgement to me.

    No one seems to be addressing the stated reason in the email for the injunction. Is it a good idea to spread unfounded rumors by talking about them on blogs? I think the editor has a good reason for his request and he was within his rights to make it.

  49. mark – well as a ‘more speech is the cure for bad speech’ kind of guy, I’d say that answer is pretty obvious…and as a gut check, if the story was about Schwarzenegger or Pawlenty would you really have the same reaction? I’ll bet that GR wouldn’t…

    A.L.

  50. A.L. has it correct, and those arguing about it are changing your points and are being disingenuous. The fact is, using the editor’s directions, a LAT blogger (and it is LAT bloggers Shoilee, not any blogger as you imply in number 9) could not write the following post.

    I do not believe the story about John Edwards in the National Enquirer and I’m not going to write about it further until there is credible evidence from another source.

    That simple sentence would violate the directions of the boss. The fact that a major newspaper has directed its employees to not write anything about something IS news. Not putting it on newsprint is one thing, but to have nothing to do with it, even electronically, is another. They could have said “Be careful to not spread rumors without additional facts” but instead chose to say “… not to blog about this topic until further notified.”

  51. And folks, let’s not forget the point of the post, which is both that Pierce was wrong to do what he did (and the bloggers wrong not to rebel), but that it’s triply funny coming from a guy who pulled a theory out of thin air in order to slander another blogger.

    A.L.

  52. bq. would you really have the same reaction? I’ll bet that GR wouldn’t…

    I think what you’re now trying to do is justify your bias on the presumption that other’s might exhibit the same kind of bias were the tables turned. Aside from being a tacit if not unintentional admission of guilt on your part (to put it in simplified terms so you are more likely to understand it…”you might do it so it’s ok if I do”), whether this may or may not be true is irrelevant to your, really the only word I can come up with is “feeble”, efforts to defend your warped and biased interpretation of the LA Times blog editors completely routine and innocuous comments to his employees.

  53. mark:

    I don’t like it when the media deal in rumors about the sexual activities of public officials or celebrities.

    Yeah, nobody likes that, right? Except that such gallantry doesn’t amount to a bird fart in a hurricane when somebody from the other party is shacked up.

    Given that the National Enquirer has a very long history of repeatedly reporting unfounded celebrity gossip and since the NE is the ONLY source for the Edwards story, let’s keep away from this story until and unless it can be verified by more credible outlets …

    Like the New York Times? Like who? The NYT published a mistress scandal story on John McCain that was truly based on 8 year-old gossip, and never has been substantiated. In this case, however, the claim is being made that two reporters confronted Edwards in a hotel. This is not gossip, but a factual claim.

    Now this could be an outrageous lie, but that’s beside the point. The MSM (not merely the LAT) is not scrutinizing the claim made by these Enquirer reporters, it is studiously NOT scrutinizing it.

  54. bq. And folks, let’s not forget the point of the post, which is both that Pierce was wrong to do what he did (and the bloggers wrong not to rebel),

    No one’s forgetting this. It’s just that it’s been so soundly refuted by so many here that the only thing keeping this otherwise idiotic thread alive is that fact that it gives people the opportunity to see the kind of noisemaking and gamesmanship that has polluted our discourse over the past 8 years in all it’s glory. Ginning up some meaningless faux story while at the same time ignoring, downplaying or otherwise forgiving the very real and very significant stories that surround us every day and affect our lives and futures in significant ways.

  55. For what it’s worth, I read this directive the same way AL does. But there’s a relatively simple way to test it: ask Mr. “Keep Rockin'” (or even better, have an LAT blogger ask him): what if I develop independent information on this story, or hear it from another source I consider reliable? Can I mention the story on my blog in that case?

    The answer would tell us whether the LAT is spiking the story or simply holding back because they don’t trust the Enquirer.

    It might even tell us whether Shoilee’s accusation that the LAT is basing its editorial decisions on whether they help the Obama campaign is correct. For example, if the response is “You may mention the story only if your independent information discredits it, but not if it confirms it,” that would say a lot.

  56. > Ginning up some meaningless faux story

    Does faux mean that in your opinion, it’s not true, or that IYO it’s unimportant whether true or false?

    Should standards be more-or-less the same for all public figures? When is it newsworthy to, say, pry open sealed divorce court records to embarrass a public figure? If a candidate or former candidate or public figure has spoken early and often about his moral fitness because of his stature as a Family Man And Loving Husband, should that enter into the discussion?

    If Leftists were defending Sen. Craig or Rev. Haggard on these grounds, I’d listen carefully. If Conservatives were weighing in on the side of Rev. Jackson or Gov. Spitzer, same. As it is, this argument sounds more and more like We Take Care Of Our Own.

  57. I notice a few of the L.A. blogs, including the one I linked on “Broderick,”:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/thedishrag/2008/07/matthew-broderi.html have pointed references to the Edwards affair in the comments. But the directions clearly state that:

    bq. _Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them._

    Approved? Maybe there is a little rebellion going on. Mr. Rock ‘n Roll didn’t mention anything about comments.

  58. jaed:

    The answer would tell us whether the LAT is spiking the story or simply holding back because they don’t trust the Enquirer.

    They don’t have to trust the Enquirer. The question is, do they trust THEIR OWN REPORTERS to comment responsibly on this story?

    The answer is NO.

  59. I never would have thought Tony Pierce, of all people, would be behind something like this. Whose decision was this, anyway? His? Or somebody else’s? He might be just as annoyed for all we know.

  60. The founders of this site have also never sent me an email asking me not to write about something in particular. Ever. It just does not happen.

    You might *agree* with the Times’ decision to send off that email. There is a case to be made for it. The Enquirer *is* crap, after all. But you have to admit that no solo blogger is given orders like that. Who would give the orders?

  61. bq. It might even tell us whether Shoilee’s accusation that the LAT is basing its editorial decisions on whether they help the Obama campaign is correct.

    I think they would and have done the same for McCain, Bush (certainly), and probably many other politicians and public figures. The close scrutiny and meager evidence you have on this particular issue does not prove or even really provide anything but anectodal support for the idea that they’re out to help Obama in particular.

    Although I know this is the new Right wing meme running through the media. Now you can take heart in the fact that you’ve all done your part to propagate this foolishness, this playing the refs. Two sides can play that game, you know.

  62. Shoilee: The man is an editor doing what editors do, in every media outlet, every minute of every day.

    Wrong. See my comments above.

    I’ve been working with editors for years, and have never once received a directive like that.

  63. I think mark is making an honest effort to be civil (unlike some) but is too far down this road to see what the “plain English” is in this email. _asking…until further notified_ isn’t really asking, when it’s from your boss. There is a deniability, of course” “I never said they couldn’t, I _asked_ them…” but I would not read the message that way. There is also a mixing of the meanings of “sources” and “rumors” throughout – even without the gratuitous adjectives such as _salacious_. The Enquirer tends to be poorly sourced. I would regard all their reports at arms length. But that is usually clear from reading the Enquirer article itself. There are tipoffs in their wording that let you know how solid (or speculative) their sources are in any story. What is important is not how generally reliable the Enquirer is, but how reliable their source is. We do well to be extra-suspicious of what they publish. That does not mean that they are always wrong.

    In this instance, with corroborating sources coming forward, the story rises to the level of “possible, perhaps even probable.” That is enough to go forward with the proper caveats. To have your boss, in the face of that “ask” you to not cover a story is muzzling you, whether it is by soft power or hard.

    As to regarding Fox as unreliable because it leans slightly right (see the UCLA study) is simply refusing to address uncomfortable facts.

  64. GR – I just love this stuff – “It’s just that it’s been so soundly refuted…” is there a school where trolls go to learn this s**t? Just assert that your argument has won, there is no case, good freaking grief. Look, if you’re not going to make an argument, at least try to say something original. I’m sorry to be derisive, but you have to earn the right to be insulting in this space – and you haven’t come close.

    A.L.

  65. No disrespect, Totten, but your limited personal experiences don’t refute the idea that this is likely to be common editorial occurrance.

  66. With that email the LAT “bloggers” were asked to act as spin-controllers. Which sort of debases the original concept, I think.

    Somewhere on the LAT site there should be a disclaimer warning readers that any and all “blog” content may be coordinated by the corporate interests of the L.A. Times, and that the opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the individual “bloggers”.

  67. Shoilee –

    Take a look at Mickey Kaus’s update (the top link in A.L.’s post).

    The Washington Post has political reporters working on the Edwards story (for the paper, not their blogs) and they are waiting for the Enquirer to publish their photos.

    Obviously it is not common practice at WaPo for an editor to tell reporters that they may not cover certain stories. As for reporter’s blogs, some newspapers don’t even have a blog editor, let alone a Tony Pierce.

    There are going to be a lot more reporters on this story thanks to Pierce and the LAT, because they have made it a media story in its own right, and have even given the Enquirer a credibility boost.

  68. bq. No disrespect, Totten, but your limited personal experiences don’t refute the idea that this is likely to be common editorial occurrance [sic].

    Well, lessee, ‘Totten’ seems to have “his own Wikipedia page”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_totten listing quite a number of publications in small rags like the NYT, WSJ, and Jerusalem Post. Prima facie evidence that he might have dealt with a few editors in his time.

    And your own evidence or basis of credibility is what, exactly, beyond bald declaration?

    [Un-bodged link per request. –NM]

  69. bq. Obviously it is not common practice at WaPo for an editor to tell reporters that they may not cover certain stories.

    Glen, really, this is getting tiresome. There is absolutely nothing in this email that suggests the bloggers refrain from doing anything other than making blog posts about it. It does not say they shouldn’t investigate (my definition of “cover”) the story further. I think mark has gone over this ground amply to refute this.

    Tim;

    Its still anecdotal, however broad or narrow his experiences may be in relation to the hundreds of thousands of other people who have been published in such media outlets. And I’m sure he realizes this as well that one cannot generalize on the basis of personal experience. Really, is this an argument? His comment is accurate and stands on its own, and although I am presuming that it was raised to refute the notion (not unreasonable given the context) I think my comments also stand on solid ground.

  70. bq. I’m sure he realizes this as well that one cannot generalize on the basis of personal experience.

    But it’s perfectly fine to generalize on the basis of personal _inexperience_, eh?

    I take it as conceded that Michael Totten has relevant experience as both blogger and editee, and you are evidencing none. I think I’ll take his recognition of a ‘spike’ over yours.

    If you want to use your real name, as does Michael, then perhaps you would gain some credibility. Meanwhile, I dub thee ‘troll’, unworthy of further notice.

  71. Glen, really, this is getting tiresome.

    You got that right, cobber. Fortunately many of us here are veterans of Rathergate, and have heard every lame rationalization that human imagination can invent. You will find our endurance to be above average.

  72. From the Patterico story:

    bq. _As I said before, *I’m only speaking about The Ticket.* But we made our decision for the reasons cited before the LATimes.com Opinion blog and we’re staying with it after the Opinion blog post. It’s a news judgment call based on not much new news there, many years of experience, the anonymous source, the publication’s record, *the subject now being on the political sidelines,* our own reputation as one of the highest-ranked newspaper political blogs and our perceived responsibilities to Ticket readers._

    On June 15, 2008, The Ticket ran a story entitled “Is John Edwards flip-flopping on his interest in the #2 spot?”:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/06/john-edwards-ve.html The gist of which was to suggest John Edwards might still end up the Vice President because his denials were not suitably Shermanesque.

  73. Shoilee: No disrespect, Totten, but your limited personal experiences don’t refute the idea that this is likely to be common editorial occurrance.

    Okay, no disrespect taken, but if it were a common experience I probably would have run into it by now. I’m not saying this is the first time in history it has happened, but it isn’t common.

    What’s common is copy-editing, requests to rework a section or two, or being told “no” after pitching a specific story idea. I haven’t actually been told “no” for well over a year, but it used to happen to me a lot when I was a new writer. That happens to everybody, at least occasionally.

  74. It’s simple: Blogs owned by newspapers aren’t really blogs. They may LOOK like blogs, but they are merely extensions of a corporate entity.

    See also “Astroturfing”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing.

    [Your format included an asterisk immediately before the leading double-quote and another after the last character of your URL; I have no idea why. Corrected to conform to Movable Type’s format, sans asterisks. –NM]

  75. bq. GR – I just love this stuff – “It’s just that it’s been so soundly refuted…” is there a school where trolls go to learn this s**t? Just assert that your argument has won, there is no case, good freaking grief. Look, if you’re not going to make an argument, at least try to say something original. I’m sorry to be derisive, but you have to earn the right to be insulting in this space – and you haven’t come close.

    If this isn’t just the perfect example of the idiocy of this site, I don’t know what is.

    I am making a statement no different in quality than yours that “…there is no case”.

    Let’s recap.

    I think your point was refuted.

    You don’t.

    To you, this is “trolling”. To me, this is “I’m too friggin’ stupid to think anymore so I’m going to resort to ad hominem attacks.”

    And what gives you the notion that you have a “right” to insult me either? Other than running this site, you certainly have not earned it either by any stretch, by demonstrating command over the issue and even a smidgen of an ability to view things other than your own biased way…you need to conduct a POLL in order to believe that this is even possible. Most intelligent people would easily recognize this. And furthermore, what kind of response did you think you might get back when your readership is demonstrably as biased as you are on this (and probably a lot of other) issues?

    If you think that running the show here gives you this right, then all I can say is I hope you enjoy living in your little bubble.

  76. G. Ralston #90 defends the caliber of his contributions and decries the idiocy of this site.

    Let’s recap.

    bq. G. Ralston #12, Insty is a right-wing hack.

    bq. G. Ralston #48, Shoilee, Andrew Lazarus, & mark are right; A.L. and others are wrong.

    bq. G. Ralston #53, All necessary arguments have already been made in exquisite detail. Plus, a bonus ad hominem.

    bq. G. Ralston #59, A.L.’s efforts to defend his warped and biased interpretations are feeble.

    bq. G. Ralston #61, A.L.’s claim that LAT editor Pierce was wrong have “been so soundly refuted by so many here that the only thing keeping this otherwise idiotic thread alive is that fact that it gives people the opportunity to see the kind of noisemaking and gamesmanship that has polluted our discourse over the past 8 years in all it’s glory.”

    That’s some hard-hitting intellectual firepower that G. Ralston has brought to bear on the topic of Pierce’s email to his employees. Only now do I understand why Pierce was right to keep the LAT’s in-house bloggers off the story. It’s because… um… er… well…

  77. bq. That’s some hard-hitting intellectual firepower that G. Ralston has brought to bear on the topic of Pierce’s email to his employees.

    Would you bring a pen or a calculator to a mud-flinging fight? This rant of a thread was initiated on the flimsiest of grounds by someone who admitted to only paying half a mind to defending or explaining his position clearly in the thread. It doesn’t deserve or require hard-hitting intellectual firepower to puncture it full of holes. As I said, this has been done already. And at any rate, neither reason nor logic seem sufficient to penetrate the thick skulls of the terminally biased.

    Those are my main points.

  78. GR – just for grins, and since you’ve shown you’re big enough to use quotes, why don’t you use your super-enlightened consciousness and clip together the argument for why I’m wrong on this – aside from just declaring “you’re wrong and it’s been concusively proven.” Just for grins…

    A.L.

  79. I’m going to try to make this as simple as possible.

    “The obvious one is that the newspaper of record believes that it must preclude writers working for it from covering a story -…not anything at all except gag them. “

    bq. “So I am asking you all not to blog about this topic until further notified.”

    Asking does not necessarily equal precluding or gagging (or any of the other numerous synonyms you have sprinkled throughout the comment section). This doubt in and of itself is enough to sink your thesis, since you cannot prove that it is, even if it is.

    A sharp and honest critic would recognize the limitations inherent in such a presumption. A biased one will ignore this and instead proceed as if everyones interpretation is equivalent to theirs.

    “…not set standards for how, not make sure that they added facts,”

    bq. ” Because the only source has been the National Enquirer we have decided not to cover the rumors or salacious speculations.”

    Saying that there is only one source, and it is the National Enquirer, implies a clear standard.

    As far as making sure they “add facts”, no one is stopping them from doing just that, and he did not direct or even ask them not to investigate further. I certainly don’t think bloggers need to be explicitly told to do this. So whether he asked them to “add facts” or not is irrelevant.

    Let me take this a step further.

    Even if the Blog editors comments were interpreted or intended as an edict, as you do, then I still do not see anything wrong with it. At all. Nor would I see anything wrong with it if the person’s name was McCain and a rumor cropped up about an affair with the female Lobbyist only in the Enquirer.

    Which really raises the equivalent question about whether you find it distressing if and when major media outlets, like….oh, CBS for instance….decide to suppress, ignore, edit, manipulate or otherwise distort information to assist a politician such as John McCain, or George Bush? Or to protect a corporate interest?

    Because I sure don’t see a lot of complaining about that kind of thing going on here….and please don’t tell me there aren’t any good examples to draw from either.

  80. GR –

    Asking does not necessarily equal precluding or gagging. I asked once before if you have a job or have ever had a boss or been one. I’ll repeat the question.

    Saying that there is only one source, and it is the National Enquirer, implies a clear standard.” Laughable, given the LAT history – as cited in the Jill Stewart story I linked to above, and in too many Patterico blog posts to note.

    As far as making sure they “add facts”, no one is stopping them from doing just that, and he did not direct or even ask them not to investigate further.” Really? Because I didn’t see anything in his language that suggested that. No “please don’t post anything without verification or multiple sourcing” no “please let legal or the news desk review what you post” no “the news desk is working the story and we’ll ask you not to post until their story is up or until we decide to abandon it” Now there’s a fun lawyerly discussion to have on the meaning of the term “to blog” – as you suggest it narrowly means to publish to the public. My wife would suggest that the research, thinking, writing, and discussing that go into the words that get published to the public are a part of the process of ‘blogging’ and so would the corporate blogging trainer who as talking to our executive team this afternoon.

    So you’re welcome to hang your entire moronic ridiculous argument on two points – that a boss “asking” a report not to do something until further notice doesn’t constitute blocking them, and that “to blog” only means to hit the “publish” key and not all the actions that lead up to it.

    That’s mighty thin ice you’ve got yourself on, GR…enjoy it.

    A.L.

  81. OK, this is getting better and better. Over at “LA Observed”:http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2008/07/times_bloggers_told_not_t.php , they have the followup memo from the Executive Editor:

    In the spirit of transparency I want to give some background on this, and to note how in hindsight we might have done things differently to avoid the discontent that led to yet another public poke in the eye.

    Various colleagues on the 3rd floor have been working on reporting the story. I made the decision that while we are working on verifying if this has any truth to it, we should stay away from joining the fray. We still don’t know that, and national and metro are still pursuing.

    Our message to you (I asked Tony to drop you guys the note) should have been more nuanced. I should have first not encouraged posting on this topic, but if any of you feel that you have a post you really to write, to please discuss it with Tony and myself first since we must always tread carefully on unverified stories. And I should have explained the thinking behind that decision. The idea was not to muzzle any of you and then walk away – that is never a recipe for success.

    Gosh, it does seem lots and lots of people seemed to see it my way on this one, GR….

    Go read the whole thing. I’ll add an update…

    A.L.

  82. Here’s confirmation from that other media member of Shoilees vast right wing conspiracy:

    “_The tabloid magazine cornered Edwards, 55, leaving a Los Angeles hotel where Rielle Hunter, his alleged mistress, and her baby were staying, at 2.40am last Tuesday. He ran down a hallway and dived into the men’s bathroom. A hotel security guard confirmed the encounter. “His face just went totally white,” the guard said. _”

    “London Times”:http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article4406814.ece

    I still havent seen it addressed whether this security guard actually exists or is a deep cover agent of Rupert Murdoch.

  83. Our message to you (I asked Tony to drop you guys the note)…

    Well, I guess we opened fire on Tony Pierce a little fast. But people who say “Keep on rockin'” have it coming.

    … should have been more nuanced.

    Funny, the LAT defenders here found plenty of nuance in there. In fact, I thought they were going to write a 20 volume Encyclopedia of Nuance in this thread. They found enough nuance in there to fertilize all the rice in Asia.

    I should have first not encouraged posting on this topic …

    I think this guy won the “Blow on the Head” grand prize in a grammar competition, but obviously the stammering lad means to say that he should have discouraged posting, instead of “asking” them not to post.

    Apparently “asking” is something more imperative than “not encouraging”.

  84. Now I can see what your problem is. You are a serial mis-interpreter.

    bq. So you’re welcome to hang your entire moronic/ridiculous argument on two points

    Perhaps you can only count up to 2, because this was another argument that you seemed to miss (I guess even with my efforts to simplify my reply, it still ended up being too complicated for you to gather it all it, apparently):

    “Even if the Blog editors comments were interpreted or intended as an edict, as you do, then I still do not see anything wrong with it. At all.”

    That pretty much kills your assertion that I’m “hanging my entire argument” on “two points” (and not just because you can’t count either). To go even further, I actually had 2 additional points, the other being in regard to MSM suppression of anti-Republican issues, which mirrored your question above.

    And then there’s this:

    bq. Really? Because I didn’t see anything in his language that suggested that.

    This statement ignores my point that:

    “whether he asked them to “add facts” or not is irrelevant.”

    Especially since you cannot tell me why this omission counts for anything in support of your argument. A lot of other things were left unsaid, or said in a particular way, in this email. For example, he also did not ask them to investigate McCain’s alleged affair as a “counterbalancing” story (that the MSM loves so much to provide for Republicans). Do you think it is reasonable, therefore, for me to conclude that they were trying to protect McCain?

    bq. Gosh, it does seem lots and lots of people seemed to see it my way on this one, GR….

    This doesn’t prove anything other than the sad current reality that a lot of other people like yourself can gin up a meaningless story enough to cause a reaction like this. In other world, I shouldn’t think that the fact that other idiots think like you proves anything other than just that. I would not be proud of participating in it if I were you, or being part of such a group of loudmouth thin skinned fools. This is certainly not the first nor will it be the last example of this pollution.

    Thin ice? This is more like gasping for air at the bottom of a cesspool filled with your own excrement.

  85. It’s not simply the facts marshalled in defense of the LA Times in comment #99 that swayed me to G. Ralston’s point of view. Nor the unassailable integrity of the links that are provided to back them up.

    It’s the eloquence.

    Yes, G. Ralston understands that on any given subject, there is going to be a range of viewpoints held by reasonable people–and that most of them will diverge from his own, at least in part.

    I think it is that insight which allows him to respond to broadsides of ad hominems with good cheer, while raising the debate to the level of ideas, rather than personalities.

    With friends like this…

  86. #99: OK, so everyone who doesn’t agree with you, including (apparently) LAT bloggers with interpretations not dissimilar to those of AL, who prompted the response from the LAT (blockquoted in AL’s #96), are idiots?

    You stay classy, G. Ralston!

    It seems there is plenty of excrement on your side. Perhaps you should step out and get some fresh air yourself.

    [Minor edit]

  87. bq. #99: OK, so everyone who doesn’t agree with you, including (apparently) LAT bloggers with interpretations not dissimilar to those of AL

    There is nothing in this latest message that indicates agreement with his points. But let’s just declare victory and run with that, eh?

    “in hindsight we might have done things differently to avoid the discontent that led to yet another public poke in the eye.”

    This is the classic non-denial denial. There’s nothing in this comment that indicates she agrees with the criticism, just that it has “led to discontent”.

    “Various colleagues on the 3rd floor have been working on reporting the story. I made the decision that while we are working on verifying if this has any truth to it, we should stay away from joining the fray. We still don’t know that, and national and metro are still pursuing.”

    “…since we must always tread carefully on unverified stories.”

    This is a reasonable articulation of an editorial policy. If the bloggers needed to have this spelled out for them explicitly, having apparently the same affliction of Cranius Impenatrus that is shared by the Armed Liberal, then perhaps they should be in a different line of work where every communication intended for them is written using s m a l l w o r d s a n d n o t r a c e s o f n u a n c e. Like serving on the staff of a Republican congressman.

    “The idea was not to muzzle any of you and then walk away – that is never a recipe for success.”

    This comment means that the Pierce email was mis-interpreted by some as an effort to “muzzle” the bloggers. To me, it is simply a re-iteration of an obvious point.

    What is really remarkable is how delicately she feels these bloggers must be treated, in order to avoid bruising their frail egos or warped sensibilities, I guess. I would have told them to screw off, since they are clearly too stupid and thick to understand a simple message without going off in a tizzy. And she thinks it should have been “more nuanced”!!!??? That makes her an idiot too, a different species than the AL but one never the less. Forcing a retreat doesn’t mean that one side is right and the other wrong; it only means that one side doesn’t want to fight. I actually feel pity for fools who interpret this as evidence that they were right. I cannot see how such people can ever come to understand anything that does not originate from within their own skulls.

  88. As a last poke at GR before I close down and fill my suitcase…

    “This is the classic non-denial denial. There’s nothing in this comment that indicates she agrees with the criticism, just that it has “led to discontent”.

    How about this one? – from the followup email:

    The idea was not to muzzle any of you and then walk away – that is never a recipe for success.

    Now since I have never personally corresponded with Meredith Artley, it just my – I’ll be cautious here – may be that other people viewed the first email as intended to ‘muzzle any of you and then walk away’.

    “Like serving on the staff of a Republican congressman.”

    You misspelled that, I think isn’t it Rethuglican?

    “This comment means that the Pierce email was mis-interpreted by some as an effort to “muzzle” the bloggers.”

    Well, it kinda all depends on how many ‘some’ was, doesn’t it…if enough people ‘mis-interpret’ what you say, at some point isn’t that something other than a ‘mis’ interpretation?

    “I actually feel pity for fools who interpret this as evidence that they were right. I cannot see how such people can ever come to understand anything that does not originate from within their own skulls.”

    Well, you’d be the expert in that, I’d say…

    A.L.

  89. bq. Well, it kinda all depends on how many ‘some’ was, doesn’t it…if enough people ‘mis-interpret’ what you say, at some point isn’t that something other than a ‘mis’ interpretation?

    Number one, Artley doesn’t agree with you.

    Number two, even if you think she does, that’s only one additional person to add to your list.

    So I don’t think you can win this argument by resorting to a survey or poll; however, as I said above, I would be embarrassed to be among those who mis-interpreted the email as you have, regardless of their number.

  90. This string was amazing. I just read the whole thing. It’s beyond me how the LAT post could be read differently from AL’s take.

  91. “I would advise those who are selling credibility in exchange for Edwards’ reputation to be prepared for the possibility that The Enquirer plans to milk the incident for all the checkout impulse buys it can.”

    He shoots, he scores!

  92. Just because a guy sneaks into a hotel at 2am to play with a baby rumored to be his love child and then hides in a bathroom when confronted by reporters you are going to claim he has something to hide? Thank god there are responsible journalists out there waiting for real facts before they entertain this story.

  93. Wow, the comments to this harmless question were reflective. They allowed me to reflect on how quickly the “left” (my old home) will turn on you if you go off message. In this case “off message” means not focusing all editorial critiques on Fox News, or those outlets not sufficiently aggressive in exposing the many unreported transgressions of Republicrats. Furthermore, the left will provide any level of nuance necessary to defend the disinterest of media outlets to harm good political leaders, aka Democrats.

    The whole discussion reminded me of some old fatherly wisdom; “Don’t argue with the ignorant, they will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience every time.”

    Bravo, good show!

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