Thursday, February 03, 2005

The LAT Opinion Section Goes Downhill Under Michael Kinsley

Ken Reich has a very lucid article regarding the Los Angeles Times:

Under the inept, unqualified Michael Kinsley, the Los Angeles Times Opinion section has hit the skids, going way way downhill very fast. There's only one word for it these days: Terrible.

For some simpleminded reason, Kinsley seems to think the readers want cartoons on Page 1 of Opinion, where they have not been before. And then there are more cartoons inside. There are fewer articles, and they are for the most part less distinguished.

It's a microcosm of what Tribune Co. ownership has meant for the Times. It's in many ways a weaker newspaper that does not take Los Angeles seriously. It is down several hundred thousand in daily circulation in five years. Its TV guide is slimmer, as is its Sports and Business sections. Its Outdoor section is a joke. Only section A has maintained its quality. Even the California section is too filled with regional news as compared with state and local news.

But nothing in the new Times is as lousy as Kinsley. And we see it in the lead editorial today, on the Los Angeles mayor's race. It is very disappointing. Far from the endorsement of a mayoral candidate that the Times should be moving toward, it basically just says there are a few candidates and it makes rather inane remarks about them. It calls for more interest in the election and makes the point that the interest is higher in New York in their municipal election. It does not promise there will ever be an endorsement here, just as in the presidential contest there was no endorsement.

Los Angeles citizens do not want to see a Los Angeles newspaper compare this city unfavorably with New York. The great preponderant majority here does not envy New York and would not want to live there. Such remarks reflect the dismissive view of Los Angeles taken by the strangers who have assumed control over the newspaper.

Today, meanwhile, is election day in Iraq, a hopeful step toward democracy that more than 1,400 American soldiers and dozens of American civilians have given their lives to help the Iraqi people make. There is an article about democracy in general in Opinion today by the able Walter Russell Mead, there's a primer right below it, and there's an article by the cutesy, usually meaningless editorial writer Andrew Malcolm, who at least can engender a nice turn of phrase occasionally.

But there is no editorial today on the Iraqi election. In the whole run-up toward the election, in the sacrifices being made in Iraq by our fellow-citizens, Kinsley has been running the other way. He should run back to Washington state, where he lives half the time and votes. We do not need him running the Times editorial page.

Tell Kinsley to take a hike! And I don't care where he goes......

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