Los Angeles Times decides what’s true and what’s false when it comes to climate change and Obamacare

For at least a couple of hundred years in America, the “letters to the editor” section of any newspaper has been the one place where people can express views opposing a newspaper’s editorial content.  Newspapers felt sufficiently strong in their viewpoints that they figured that a few crackpot letters wouldn’t be enough to damage the paper’s reputation.  Now, though, the Los Angeles Times has announced that conflicting views are a bridge too far:

Regular readers of The Times’ Opinion pages will know that, among the few letters published over the last week that have blamed the Democrats for the government shutdown (a preponderance faulted House Republicans), none made the argument about Congress exempting itself from Obamacare.

Why? Simply put, this objection to the president’s healthcare law is based on a falsehood, and letters that have an untrue basis (for example, ones that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change) do not get printed.

So the Los Angeles Times has taken it upon itself to pronounce anthropogenic global warming as settled science, despite the fact that even the IPCC is trying to squirm around the fact that all of its earlier data and hypotheses were wrong.  That tells you  pretty much everything you need to know about the drive-by media, which works in an ideologically closed system that makes no allowance for new, and especially conflicting, evidence.

And then there’s that other thing:  the Los Angeles Times also says that it’s false that Congress exempted itself from Obamacare.  That too is a giant leap of fact and faith for the Los Angeles Times.  While it’s true that Congress didn’t exempt itself from Obamacare, it made sure to insulate itself from Obamacare, which is just as bad.  In that regard, I think that Noel Sheppard, of Newsbusters, gives up a bit too quickly on the Obamacare point:

Of course, readers are likely just as concerned that the Times is also not publishing letters claiming Congress is exempt from ObamaCare.

After reviewing fact checks on this issue published by CNN, the Washington Post, and Yahoo, it appears the Times has a point here.

I respect Sheppard for being honest enough to concede on the facts but the facts actually support conservative complaints.  The CNN link is a good start explaining why Congress has effectively exempted itself:  CNN purports to do a fact-check on the claim that Congress gave itself a pass:

When Obamacare was passed into law, Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican, attached language to the bill that mandated members of Congress and their staffers would have to buy health insurance on the newly created health insurance exchanges. What nobody accounted for at the time was that members of Congress and their staffers currently have health insurance through their employer – the federal government. No other employer has been legally required to drop its employee’s health care plan and have them buy coverage on the exchanges.

Like most other large employers, the federal government contributes a portion to the premiums of its employees. In fact, like many employers, the federal government pays most of the premiums for its workers; an average of 72 percent on Capitol Hill. The law didn’t account for the continued employer contribution for these federal workers who would now be buying their insurance on the exchanges. The exchanges were designed to help people without health insurance and people with overly expensive health insurance. It became clear that without their employer contribution, members and their staffers would essentially be getting a cut in pay and benefits equal to thousands of dollars. Even Grassley, the provision’s author, had said the government should continue to contribute to lawmakers’ and staffers’ premiums. What the Obama administration has done is ruled that the congressional workers will continue to receive the employer contribution to help them buy their insurance on the exchange.

All those words!  What they boil down to is this:  The Obamacare health exchange is so expensive, in large part because plans must contain expensive benefits that people neither need nor want, that requiring employees to go into it will cost them thousands of dollars out of pocket which, as a practical matter, decreases employees’ take-home pay at the end of the day.  Therefore, Congress is giving employees (congress people and staffers alike) a stipend to offset that cost.  So yes, congress people and their staffers, unlike other Americans, are being forced into the exchange, but Congress has made sure to insulate them from its devastating economic impact.  This insulation is tantamount to an exemption, because Congress won’t feel the pain.

In this regard, it’s unlike other Americans who are feeling the pain very badly.  The law’s terms mean that they too are being forced into the exchange, but without the nice little stipend to offset costs that Congresws gave itself.  For example (h/t Gateway Pundit):

Across North Carolina, thousands of people have been shocked in recent weeks to find out their health insurance plans will be canceled at the end of the year – and premiums for comparable coverage could increase sharply.

One of them is George Schwab of Charlotte, who pays $228 a month for his family’s $10,000 deductible plan from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

In a Sept. 23 letter, Blue Cross notified him that his current plan doesn’t meet benefit requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act and suggested a comparable plan for $1,208 a month – $980 more than he now pays.

“I’m 62 and retired,” Schwab said. “This creates a tremendous financial burden for our family.

“The President told the American people numerous times that… ‘If you like your coverage, you can keep it,’” Schwab said. “How can we keep it if it has been eliminated? How can we keep it if the premium has been increased 430 percent in one year?”

[snip]

Under the new law, all insurance plans must cover 10 “essential health benefits,” including maternity care and pediatric dental and vision care. Plans must also provide certain preventive services, such as mammograms and colonoscopies for free.

Today, people who buy individual policies often choose plans without maternity coverage, for example, to reduce premiums. That choice is gone, too.

“Now maternity is loaded into everybody’s plan,” Blount said.

That means men will generally be paying more than they did before. But women, who can no longer be charged more just for being female, will probably pay less.

[snip]

Blue Cross spokesman Lew Borman said Friday that large premium increases will affect about one-third of the approximately 400,000 North Carolina customers who buy Blue Cross insurance in the individual market. Some of their policies were canceled because they didn’t meet the new federal standards, he said.

[snip]

Michael Hood, 46, who lives near Winston-Salem, is another of the Blue Cross customers who is suffering sticker shock after receiving a recent renewal letter.

He and his wife, who is expecting their third child, now pay $324 per month for a plan with a $10,000 family deductible. The comparable plan suggested by Blue Cross for next year would cost $895.27 per month with an $11,000 family deductible. Their annual payment would rise from $14,000 to $24,000.

Self-employed as part owner of a medical device distributorship, Hood said he and his wife “try to live a healthy lifestyle and keep our medical costs down.” They chose the high-deductible plan to keep their premium low.

Hood said his income is about $85,000 a year, which would mean he might be able to qualify for a subsidy. He said he checked the online marketplace, which has been operating only sporadically this week, and didn’t think it looked like his family would be eligible.

One of the pluses of any new plan is that it will cover maternity care, which his current plan doesn’t. But “is that really worth paying $1,000 a month more for?”

“I’m angry that legislation has been passed that is forcing me to purchase something that otherwise I would not have to purchase,” Hood said.

“The president told us Obamacare would make health insurance affordable and reduce costs. It is now impossible for our family to afford private health insurance.”

By enacting legislation that protects itself from the pain ordinary Americans are feeling, Congress has indeed exempted itself from Obamacare.  And that’s no lie.

A little of this and a little of that

Still working on coordinating my stiff, unresponsive brain this morning, so I have nothing interesting to say.  I mean, my dog is perfect, and that’s always of interest to me, but it makes for very limited blog posts.

Fortunately, as is always the case with the internet, even when my synapses are moving as slowly as maple sap in the winter, there’s other stuff there.  For some reason, today’s National Review Online was the one that just riveted me.  The site had three posts that I think are worth sharing with you:

Charles C.W. Cooke talks about the fact that Jill Biden, who has a very Lefty type of PhD in education insists on going by the honorific “doctor.”  This is kind of peculiar on its face, because people with PhD’s in education usually go by professor, but never mind that.  Cooke’s real point is to highlight the American class system the Left has created with its emphasis on doctorates.  With all due respect to those who worked hard to earn doctorates (and I hold one myself, in law, as does every other lawyer in this degree inflated world), the doctorate does not make for a better or more knowledgeable person.  Indeed, one of the problems with doctorates is that they narrow ones knowledge.  We have more and more people who wave around an obscure doctorate in puppetry or a subset of fruit fly cell reproduction and then claim based upon the letters after their names that they have all the answers.  That’s just so not true . . . except perhaps in my case.  In future, please feel free to call me Dr. B.

John Fund points out that, after its initial bout of navel gazing when Kirsten Powers excoriated the media for ignoring the Gosnell trial, the media is right back to ignoring the Gosnell trial — as well as two other trials in which abortion clinics are accused of putting women’s health and life at serious risk.  This adds that little bit of extra irony to the wrap-up to Obama’s speech before Planned Parenthood:

As long as we’ve got to fight to make sure women have access to quality, affordable health care, and as long as we’ve got to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own choices about her own health, I want you to know that you’ve also got a president who’s going to be right there with you, fighting every step of the way.  Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you.  (Emphasis mine.)

Repeat after me:  “It’s not about health care.  It’s about abortion.”  Until we acknowledge that, we will never have an honest debate about abortion — and its limits — in this country.

Congress awarded posthumous Congressional Medals of Honor Gold Medals to the four little girls who died in a Birmingham, Alabama church in 1963, the victims of a horrific extremist bombing.  Looking at that event and comparing it to the Boston bombing, Mona Charen makes an excellent point:

As Americans, we are not confused about the morality of what happened in Birmingham that September morning in 1963, nor during the Jim Crow era in America generally. We do not hesitate to condemn utterly the behavior and the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan (the perpetrators of this bombing and others) and their white-supremacist fellow travelers. We do not worry that reviling white supremacists and their grotesque deeds will somehow taint all white people. (Though some on the left won’t mind if you generalize about white people.)

But when it comes to other groups and other motives for the same kind of terrorism — we lose our moral focus. Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Kathy Boudin have become honored members of the faculties at leading universities. Ayers is even a friend of the president of the United States. Regarding his own record of setting bombs that kill and dismember innocent people, Ayers told the New York Times on the ironic date of September 11, 2001, that “I feel we didn’t do enough. . . .  [There’s] a certain eloquence to bombs, a poetry and a pattern from a safe distance.” So says a retired “distinguished professor” at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Today, American liberals are obsessed not with terrorism but with the color and ethnicity of terrorists.

How’s that for moral clarity?

Andrew Breitbart was right all along about the massive Pigford scandal, one that saw a reparations law turn into a major scam to rip off American taxpayers.  To give credit where credit is due, the New York Times has reported the details of this fraud.  I’d like to believe there’s a conscious afterlife, simply so that I can also believe that Andrew Breitbart is up there, somewhere, pumping his fist with glee.  Perhaps the New York Times will become inspired by this effort and turn to real reporting, rather than spending 90% of its time serving as a propaganda arm for Leftist politicians and activists.

And finally, speaking of newspapers, over at the WaPo, an opinion piece says that the way to destroy the Koch brothers’ proposed LA Times purchase is for all the reporters to walk out!  That’ll show them.  I had to laugh.  First, why would the Koch brothers want to keep a staff that has been responsible for purveying such horrible Leftist claptrap, the paper is seconds away from bankruptcy.  Second, this assumes that there are no good conservative writers, which reveals a level of bias so enormous as to be almost incomprehensible.  And third, does Steven Pearlstein really think that, in a tight economy, hundreds of reporters are simply going to abandon their jobs?

The media’s approach to Rand Paul’s filibuster: pretend it never happened *UPDATED*

Yesterday, Rand Paul embarked upon a nearly 12-hour-long standing filibuster.  The filibuster’s ostensible purpose and practical effect was to delay a vote on John Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA.  It’s real purpose, though, was to force Attorney General Eric Holder to answer a straightforward question:  “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?”

Paul posed this question because, on Monday, in a letter responding to questions Paul had about the drone program on American soil, Eric Holder had written that the President could order a drone strike on American citizens in America, if there was a 9/11 situation.  Thus, Holder confined his answer to the President’s power in the event of actual combat on American soil.  Eric refused to respond to Paul’s follow-up question about a non-combat scenario.

So Paul filibustered, and filibustered, and filibustered.

During his epic speech, in the course of which he even quoted Alice in Wonderland, Paul came up with some liberty-oriented bon mots that will forever enter the conservative playbook:

“They shouldn’t just drop a Hellfire missile on your cafe experience.”

“If you give up your rights now, don’t expect to get them back.”

[A hypothetical question to President Obama:]  “So you can murder anyone you want, anywhere, any time?”

Paul not only managed to derail the scheduled vote for John Brennan, he forced Eric Holder to answer his question.  Today, Eric Holder issued what is probably the world’s shortest letter ever written by a lawyer:

Rand Paul won -- Holder gave him his answer

During his filibuster odyssey, Paul demonstrated that he is a lucid speaker, who still managed to make sense after almost twelve hours on his feet.  No wonder the Young Gun Republicans in the Senate soon rallied to his cause.  (And no wonder the Old Gun Republicans went off to enjoy an expensive dinner with Barack Obama.)

In one staggering feat, Rand Paul demonstrated he is contender material for the 2016 presidential election.  Those who have been paying attention know that he has been angling in that direction for some months now, both by speaking up for Tea Party interests and by trying to convince both conservative and Progressive Jews alike that he does not share the disdain his father, Ron Paul, seems to feel for Israel.

These plays, however, were inside baseball stuff, with only political junkies paying attention to Paul’s Tea Party and Jewish outreach.  The general public, including the conservative-leaning general public, was not paying much attention.

That all changed yesterday, with Paul’s filibuster.  He really did channel Jimmy Stewart, in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington:  He was boyish look, deeply committed to the cause of truth and liberty, and still making sense after hours of talking.  Moreover, unlike Stewart, who was merely acting, Paul was really doing this.  The conservative side of the internet went wild.  This was Paul’s moment.  This was when he catapulted himself into being a national player.  Now the world — or, if not the world, America — will know that there is someone with political substance aiming to challenge Hillary’s almost inevitable 2016 run.

Except that’s not what happened.

Instead, of reporting honestly about one man’s impressive performance in the United States Senate, the mainstream, drive-by media did what it does best:  it pretended Paul’s epic filibuster never happened.  In some of the nation’s main newspapers, his dramatic stand for individual liberty didn’t even make the front page or, if it did, it was buried within another story about Senate business or was the subject of an attack about his being a dangerous loose cannon.

I hereby give you exhibits A, B, C, and D.  The print is small in all of these front page captures, but it’s still large enough for you to see what’s missing — any mention, especially approving mention, of Paul’s epic stand:

New York Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
Washington Post buries Rand Paul filibuster
Los Angeles Times buries Rand Paul filibuster
San Francisco Chronicle buries Rand Paul filibuster

The above front pages from some of the dominant newspapers in America provide a textbook example of mainstream media control over political dialogue in America. The media’s playbook is simple: For Democrats, elevate good stories and bury bad ones. For Republicans, elevate bad stories and bury good ones.

Because the drive-by media is no longer interested in reporting news, but only cares about obtaining outcomes, it is up to us — the Citizen Information Army, a CIA we hope John Brennan will never control — to offset the media hegemony.  We do this by elevating good stories about the Republicans and reporting on bad stories about the Democrats. We have our orders now. Let’s march!

UPDATE:  Don Quixote, who’s more aware of television than I am, told me that the Today Show this morning did do a fairly superficial segment on the filibuster.  Let’s hope it was better than CNN’s coverage.  Ed Driscoll caught the fact that, while CNN did provide some reporting the filibuster, including commentary from Reason’s Mike Rig, it still let its bias shine through.  Check out the chyron CNN applied to the tape of Paul talking:

Media Bias

Although subtle, Ed notes that these things matter: “[T]he Chyron is likely the only thing the now-proverbial low-information voter will take from Paul’s historic filibuster.”

Los Angeles Times columnist proves that there are zombies

If you’ve been trolling the internet at all the lost couple of days, you’re aware by now that Christopher Knight, who has what is apparently a paying gig at the Los Angeles Times, has taken umbrage at a political cartoon likening the profligate Mrs. Obama to Marie Antoinette, who was herself no slouch at spending other people’s money.  If you haven’t heard about this kerfuffle, let me lead you through it.

First, here’s the original Marie Antoinette portrait and the companion political cartoon:

Michelle Antoinette

And second, Christopher Knight’s fevered fulminations:

A baldly racist depiction of First Lady Michelle Obama that appeared Tuesday on a right-wing website is based on a 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty (1740-1786). The full-length painting hangs outside Paris in the Palace of Versailles.

The Internet image grafts Obama’s face onto Gautier-Dagoty’s lavish depiction of the French queen, dressed in full regalia. It also replaces the draped left arm of the young monarch, then barely 20, with a muscular black arm and shifts the position of the right hand to place it in front of a world globe.

The caricature of Obama as a profligate queen relies on the racist stereotype of an “uppity Negro,” which emerged among slave masters in an earlier American era. Obama, born into a working-class Chicago family whose roots are traced to the pre-Civil War South, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, prior to holding several high-level positions in the academic and private sectors.

The racist image appeared Tuesday on the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit; the slur was later called out by Media Matters for America. A post by Gateway blogger Jim Hoft paired the picture with a clip of the first lady’s guest appearance on a forthcoming episode of “iCarly,” a Nickelodeon sit-com. In the script, Obama commends the cast for their support of military families. Responding to a cast member who mistakenly addresses her as “your excellency,” the script has Obama jokingly reply, “I kinda like it.”

The doctored painting also turned up in August 2010 on the right-wing Instapundit website, where it apparently originated.

You can read the rest here, if you want a laugh and have a strong stomach.

I’m not usually moved to comment on MSM articles (too many comments mean mine get buried, a dreadful fate for an egotist), but this time I couldn’t resist.  Here, in its entirety, is my comment:

Dear Mr. Knight: I’ve pretty much ignored the whole zombie phenomenon, thinking it’s kind of stupid to fear the living dead. (I find the actual living much more frightening.) Your post, however, is causing me to rethink my rejection of the zombie trope, because you have just provided living (or, rather, undead) proof that zombies are actually sucking people’s brains out.

Is it possible that you’re unaware of Marie Antoinette’s reputation for living extravagantly while the ordinary people around her starved in the street? And are you unable to make the connection between Marie Antoinette’s reputation (and she was Austrian, by the way, not African American) and the fact that Michelle Obama just recently went on a $4 million tax payer funded vacation, while wearing $1,200 sundresses, even as Americans have been struggling desperately with unemployment and rising prices? For the informed mind (or just the living mind), the comparisons are inevitable, appropriate and non-racist.

Sherlock Holmes famously said that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Since it must be impossible for a major publication such as the Los Angeles Times to have hired an idiot, the improbable truth we are dealing with is that, since being hired, you have had your brain sucked out by zombies.

Contact information for companies that advertise in the LA Times *CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED*

Ymarsakar is right — contacting the editors at the LA Times to get them to release the video showing Obama cheerfully consorting with radical Islamists is pointless.  They don’t care what you and I think.  However, as he said, the advertisers and owners do (or, at least, should) care.

With that in mind, here is a list of contact information for some of the advertisers in the LA Times.*  Please be civil.  We don’t want to look bad.  Our goal is to make the LA Times look like a failed journalistic institution that will inevitably be abandoned by thoughtful, informed (and polite) readers.

City National Banka commenter says that City National states that it has no ads running in the LA Times, although I found this contact page by clicking through their ad in the Times. To keep civility alive, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

Cars.com, and here is some executive contact info

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (sadly, I could only find multiple phone numbers, not an email form)

Estrella (again, only a phone number — 1.877.386.6100)

ING Direct or, better yet: ombudsman@ingdirect.com

CapitalOne (pick a department, any department, because it’s impossible to find a contact for corporate headquarters — although I’m still looking)

Windemere (again, another phone number site: 925.556.6000).

CIT (lots of phone numbers).  This is the corporate fact sheet for CIT Group, which may be the umbrella organization, but I don’t guarantee that.

Air France. Here’s the corporate fact sheet, with executive email addresses, so I hope your French is up to snuff.

Kaiser Permanente (good luck figuring this one out and, since it’s a medical care provider as well as a business, you may want to approach this with caution, so that you don’t tie up resources dedicated to patient care).  Here’s the umbrella Kaiser organization corporate fact sheet, with executive email addresses.

Verizon. This is probably the umbrella corporation, and there are executive contact emails here.

British Petroleum (which had a very nice website when it came to figuring out how to contact the company).  Here are some executive emails too.

Levi.com (not a great contact form, since it’s geared to purchasers, not members of the public).  Got it!  Here’s the corporate headquarters fact sheet, with executive email addresses.

Weight Watchers (no email, but telephone contact info).  Here’s the corporate fact sheet, with executive email addresses.

Netflix (again, phone numbers, since the website is geared towards advertisers, customers and the media).  Here’s the corporate fact sheet, with executive email addresses.

GMC. Here’s general GM contact information (including executive emails)

Lexus (a nice contact page)

The Venetian Hotel in Vegas

Bank of America. Here’s the corporate fact sheet, with executive email addresses.

Treasure Island Hotel in Vegas

Go Hawaii (the State’s official tourism site)

Citibank (a miserable website for finding useful contact information for our purposes, but they promise at this link that “No matter what you need help with, no matter where you are, you can always reach us.” I took them at their word when I provided this link.)  This is probably the correct corporate fact sheet, but there are so many “Citi” entities, I really don’t guarantee it.

Loma Linda University Medical Center

UC Berkeley Haas Business School/Columbia Business School — although I suspect that, given their known campus politics, both schools may be on board with the Times’ approach to “reporting”.

American Express customer service (and corporate info)

Southern California Chevy Dealers — who don’t have a direct contact, so here’s general GM contact information (including executive emails)

Cabo San Lucas Luxury Real Estate (snail mail and phone contact only)

Time Warner Cable — corporate fact sheet with executive email addresses

Virgin Mobile USA — corporate fact sheet with executive email addresses

Solar City

Medifast

La Quinta Inns and Suites

Also, you may want to contact the LA Times’ parent organization:

Tribune Company and some executive contact info too.

The principle involved here is an important one. Americans, who have the great blessing to live in a free state with free speech, are entitled to support radical Palestinians and fellow-travelers, so long as they’re not active terrorists. However, it would seem to me, naïve though I am, that Americans also have a right to know that their Presidential candidate is consorting with radical Palestinians and fellow-travelers. Despite (or, one could say, because of) the fact that it might not reflect well on Obama in the minds of many Americans, it is news.

Here’s the letter I’m currently sending out.  Any suggestions for or improvements to this letter are welcome:

I noticed that your company advertises in the LA Times.  The LA Times has admitted that it is withholding from the public a newsworthy video of Barack Obama consorting with known terrorists as well as representatives of the American Muslim community who have expressed violent hostility to Jews and to Israel.  This is media malfeasance of the highest order.

Until the LA Times begins to practice journalism and not partisan politics, I will refrain from reading it, and I will refrain from doing business with companies that advertise in it.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

By the way, for those who may fear that the tape’s existence is a myth, it’s not. In April 2008, the LA Times was already writing glowing words about the get-together, and boasting about the tape’s existence: “The event was videotaped, and a copy of the tape was obtained by The Times.”

UPDATE:  Welcome, Little Green Football readers.

________________________________
*You’ll notice a certain haphazard quality in the contact info: some links are for generic contact forms, some are for the corporation’s fact sheet, and some are for both. The problem is that it’s not always easy to figure out by following an advertising link which umbrella corporation actually matches up with the website I’m viewing (as, for example, with Capitol One or ING Direct).  In those cases, it’s easier and safer to use the linked website’s own contact form. My goal has been to give you as much information as possible, without inadvertently deluging with email an entity that has a name similar to that of an LA Times advertiser.

LA Times hides damaging video of Obama

The LA Times has admitted that it possesses a video of Barack Obama cheerfully attending a radical Muslim meeting at which the speakers hurled the usual violent and threatening invective at Jews and at Israel.  Also attending were Ayers and Dohrn.

One might think that, given next week’s election, the LA Times, which is another failing old media outlet, would have a scoop here and publish it, both to increase its circulation and so that people could make up their own minds about Obama’s beliefs and affiliations.  The Times, however, has refused to do so, apparently for fear that it could harm Obama’s chances in the upcoming election.

As Charles Johnson says, if this is true, “this is media malfeasance of an almost astounding degree. They have a video that could change the stakes in this election and they’re hiding it. And they’ve been hiding it since last April.”  The fact that the Times is standing there doing nothing even as it holds actual news (not just the usual puff pieces) is shocking and should change immediately.

Since we know, though, that the LA Times will do nothing, rather than see the Obamessiah go down in well-deserved, it’s up to us to do something:  If you’re a blogger, blog.  If you’re an emailer, email.  And whatever else you do, let the Times know what you think.

Nobody here but us biased chickens *UPDATED*

The LA Times has mounted a spirited defense against the ever increasing volume of reader complaints the Times is getting about its loving coverage of Obama, especially when contrasted with the fact that its McCain coverage is minimal and fairly hostile.  Here’s the key part of its defense:

[I]t’s the string of Page 1 stories and photos that has brought the most recent protests: On Sunday, July 20, the Campaign ’08 banner was over a story about the Iraqi prime minister’s endorsement of Obama’s plan for withdrawing U.S. troops; on Monday the article was about the political furor triggered by that withdrawal plan. On Tuesday the front-page story was “Obama’s views resonate in Iraq.” (That was the headline in print; headlines on the online versions are often different.) Each story included an above-the-fold photograph. There were front-page stories, too, last week, on July 15 (“Obama re-admonishes blacks“), 16 (“Obama stands by his plan to end war“), and 17 (a profile of Obama and his father headlined “So alike and yet so different”).

[snip]

The news itself dictates the amount of coverage, editors point out. Times reporters are on the trail with both McCain and Obama. In recent days, coverage of McCain has included two front-page pieces (“Housing crisis is a test for McCain” on July 19 and “McCain takes a risk on Social Security,” July 14), several brief stories as well as two longer ones inside the main section (“McCain wins some respect,” about his address before the NAACP convention, Page A14 on July 17; “McCain’s turn before La Raza in San Diego,” Page A11, July 15).

Aaron Zitner, who edits campaign coverage from The Times’ Washington bureau, summarizes the events that made for more news about Obama’s overseas trip: “First,” Zitner wrote in an e-mail, “the Iraqi government decided to announce during Obama’s trip that it agreed, more or less, with his timeline for U.S. troop withdrawals. This was significant news, because it suggested that the Iraqi government is not on the same page with President Bush on this important issue — and the Bush administration is actively negotiating with the Iraqis just now over the role of U.S. forces there.

“Second, the Iraqi government turned Obama’s trip into a three-day news event. The Iraqis said that they agreed with Obama’s timeline for troop withdrawals, then the next day suggested that they disagreed with him, and then seemed to agree with him again on the third day. This kept Obama’s visit in the news.

“Finally, Obama’s reception in the Mideast was significant. At home, his opponents are trying to portray him as naive on foreign policy, particularly in his proposals to withdraw U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months and to sit down at the table with Iran. The fact that Iraqi leaders agreed with him on the first point, and that Israeli leaders accepted his views on Iran, made for substantive news stories.”

Earlier in the month, readers who protested the story of McCain’s first marriage received a note from National Editor Scott Kraft: “The piece on John McCain’s first marriage was one of a number of stories we have done — and will continue to do — on the two candidates for president. In those pieces, we are looking at every aspect of the candidates’ lives. We are looking at what they said about their past and what others say about their past.

“This was a story that looked at that period in McCain’s life when his marriage broke up, he met his current wife and when his personal relationship soured with the Reagans, among others. We also looked at the discrepancy between what the candidate said in his autobiography and what he said in court documents that he signed. I think voters themselves can determine whether such discrepancies are relevant or irrelevant. But they can’t make those decisions without all the facts. McCain and Obama have put themselves up for the highest elected office in the land. We think their background is not only fair game — it’s something every thinking voter would want to know more about.”

A few comments about the above defense — and I’ll note right up front that, while I’ve generally followed the media coverage of the two candidates, I haven’t been tracking the LA Times at all. Nevertheless, its pretty clear from the defense itself that the Times‘ coverage is completely consistent with that coming from the rest of the American media.

What immediately leaps out of the above series of excuses is the nature of the stories about the two candidate: The personal story about Obama is about his yearning for his father; the personal story about McCain is about how he screwed his first wife. The McCain headlines are consistent with that theme.  Without reading the articles themselves, the headlines tell a story of McCain’s trial’s and tribulations — the risks he’s running and the head-barely-above-water status of his campaign.  On their face, an objective observer can see that they’re less than adulatory.

The Obama headlines strike a very different tone.  (Again, I’m just riffing off the defense, and am reading their underlines, not their underlying stories.)  These headlines are about leadership.  They hit upon Obama’s firm stance on the war (no indication in the headline that his position was wrong and his defense is now duplicitous), about his leadership in the black community, and about the way Iraqis love his viewpoint.

It’s this last that’s especially interesting.  As you notice, the Times goes on and on in defense of its coverage by pointing out what a great reception Obama’s gotten in Iraq and how his brilliance is proven by the fact that Maliki currently concurs with Obama’s position du jour.

The problem with this excuse for prObama coverage is that we’ve got nothing against which to compare it.  Unlike Obama, who has reached all his pre-July 20 positions regarding Iraq in a perfect vacuum of factual ignorance, John McCain has made repeated trips to Iraq — and these trips got scant coverage from the MSM, including the Times.

At the time McCain went to Iraq, he advocated the Surge — as did high and low level Iraqis, who desperately needed America there to restore order and prevent a blood bath. Indeed, let me give McCain’s own version of his principled stand, taken from his speech today in Denver:

We both knew the politically safe choice was to support some form of retreat. All the polls said the “surge” was unpopular. Many pundits, experts and policymakers opposed it and advocated withdrawing our troops and accepting the consequences. I chose to support the new counterinsurgency strategy backed by additional troops — which I had advocated since 2003, after my first trip to Iraq. Many observers said my position would end my hopes of becoming president. I said I would rather lose a campaign than see America lose a war. My choice was not smart politics. It didn’t test well in focus groups. It ignored all the polls. It also didn’t matter. The country I love had one final chance to succeed in Iraq. The new strategy was it. So I supported it. Today, the effects of the new strategy are obvious. The surge has succeeded, and we are, at long last, finally winning this war.

That is historically accurate.  And here’s McCain’s equally accurate summation of Obama’s Iraq position:

Senator Obama made a different choice. He not only opposed the new strategy, but actually tried to prevent us from implementing it. He didn’t just advocate defeat, he tried to legislate it. When his efforts failed, he continued to predict the failure of our troops. As our soldiers and Marines prepared to move into Baghdad neighborhoods and Anbari villages, Senator Obama predicted that their efforts would make the sectarian violence in Iraq worse, not better.

In other words, what the LA Times doesn’t acknowledge as it tries to explain why Obama gets all the Iraq love this July is that the only reason the ObaMessiah can look good right now is because John McCain was right over and over again, not in July 2008, but in 2003 and 2004 and 2005 and 2006 and 2007.  It was McCain’s drive and vision that helped create the scenario that now enables Obama to feel the media’s unending love.

So, while it’s news today that Obama is well-received, the Times must be faulted — vigorously and loudly — for missing all of yesterday’s news about McCain’s fact-finding, vision, and principled stand.  Even more importantly, the media must be faulted for ignoring the fact that, while the Iraqi leadership might, for pragmatic reasons agree with Obama today, the history it shoved to the back and bottom of its papers shows that for years, not just for a week or two, the Iraqi people were in complete accord with McCain’s defense of their lives and safety.

Iraq aside, there’s also no excuse for the press’s gaga response to Obama’s European junket — and, significantly, the LA Times doesn’t even try to defend it.  Last I saw, Obama was the putative Democratic candidate for an American presidential election.  The rock star treatment accorded him in Europe, an agglomeration of states that does not have America’s interests at heart, did not give me any greater sense of his leadership abilities than I had before.  And the fact that the media uncritically reported every step and breath he took, without bothering to point out errors or inconsistencies again indicates that the Times‘ editorial team, whatever else you can say about it, is singularly lacking in insight.  And when you think about it, that makes this editorial group the perfect match for the approval-craving narcissist in chief of the Democratic party.

UPDATELaer has more about the LA Times delicate sensibilities when it comes to determining what’s newsworthy about Democrats.