Nearly every weekday, for the last thirty some years, I have acquired three or four papers and read them at lunch time. I do this in order to relax and in some cases discover something. Among the ‘papers’ I purchase is the Los Angeles Times and I am going to use that ‘newspaper’ as my example for this post. In my viewpoint the Los Angeles Times has actually constantly been a somewhat liberal paper. I never minded that as a few of my views were likewise rather liberal. A while back, however, the paper was acquired by the Tribune Business and the paper went from taking a slightly liberal slant to taking a very liberal slant and it went from reporting the news to attempting to affect the news. Now, the paper appears to have gone off the deep end and is trying to control the news and persuade it’s readers.
As long as I can remember, papers have used their front page to report tough news, news that they considered to be of terrific value to their readers. The Los Angeles Times and many other papers now appear to be using their front pages to influence their readers. Now, in addition to slanting their stories to the left or right, many newspapers are slipping op-ed pieces (I am all for op-ed pieces as long as they are printed in the op-ed area of the paper and listed as viewpoints or editorials. I like checking out other people’s perspectives. After all, I may discover something new.) into the news sections of the paper and even onto the front page.
Today, December 23, 2005, the paper ran, on the front page, above the fold, near the center, a piece headlined “GOP Hitting Limitations of Agressive Tactics”. To be fair the paper did insert in smaller sized type, above the headline, the words “News Analysis” (I wonder the number of readers know that ‘news analysis’ is just another method of saying editorial viewpoint. I likewise wonder how many individuals even check out the words ‘Think piece’.). This piece was composed by a ‘Times Personnel Writer’ who as far as I can inform, has actually never written a difficult news item in his life. The only pieces, written by this writer, that I have actually ever read have actually been anti Republican, anti Bush and anti anyone and everybody who is not to the far left, opinion pieces. This piece slams the Republican Party and the Administration, praises the Democratic Party, provides a few partial statistics, lists a number of half truths and offers the authors viewpoint as to how the Republican Celebration is out to hurt the environment, ruin the poor, overrun the Democratic Party and destroy this nation. It does everything but report news, yet it is made to appear as a tough news piece. I would incline this piece if it were published in the op-ed area of the paper (Everyone deserves to his/her opinion.) but, it upsets me that it was released on the front page where news products belong.
Right (pardon the pun) listed below that piece is a piece headlined “U.N. Struck by a Bolt From the Right”. This piece about, John Bolton, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, seems to be innocuous, however if you read the whole piece you come away with the impression that Ambassador Bolton is a bullying extreme right problem maker who is destroying our relationships with our allies and with the U.N. This piece is again a viewpoint or editorial. It is not tough news or even news. It would have been okay in the op-ed section, however it did not belong on the front page.
Neither of those pieces belonged on the front page. The only factor to have them there, is to try to influence the thinking about the paper’s readers.
The foregoing are just two examples of how the paper is trying to manage public opinion. Whenever the paper publishes something excellent that has actually taken place in Iraq or Afganistan the insert, into the piece, a number of bad things. Everytime they release something great about a Republican, and even a moderate Democrat, they place something unfavorable. Unfavorable pieces about Moderates and Conservatives are released on the front page or near the front and positive pieces are released near the back. Positive pieces about the left are published on the front page or near the front and negative pieces about the left are released near the back. In today’s paper they released a piece about the President defending our spy program. Where did they publish it? On the last page, page 32, of the national news area. They likewise released a piece about the President okaying troop cuts in Iraq. This piece was released on page 3 of the national news section, however, in the piece they also mention that there have actually been 2,150 U.S. deaths in Iraq, that a soldier was killed by a bomb and that the President “is under growing pressure to pare back U.S. soldiers in Iraq”. Again, the paper can’t print something positive without printing something unfavorable, when it concerns the President.
By the method, who is putting pressure, on the President, to ‘pare back the soldiers in Iraq’? I know that I’m not. I don’t understand enough about what is required in Iraq to make that kind of tip. As far as I can tell, most of the ‘pressure’ is coming from the far left, their spokespeople, the people that have actually purchased into their ranting and the ‘talking heads’ that love to go on talk programs and show everyone how ‘in the loop’ they are, although they normally turn out to understand less than we do. Perhaps we ought to draw back soldiers and after that again possibly we must not. The only individuals that the President should be listening to are his Generals and specific individuals in the intelligence neighborhood, the Department Of Defense and the State Department. He must not be listening to his opponents (They have their own program.), reporters, publishers or the Hollywood Elite. They might believe they know everything, however they don’t.
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