The Sunday Opinion section of the Times did publish, on its front page, the "rise of pseudo-journalism" speech that the boss John Carroll gave May 6 in Oregon. It includes provocative lines such as, "If Fox News were a factory situated, say, in Minneapolis, it would be trailing a plume of rotting fish all the way to New Orleans." While Carroll appears to want the speech noticed and talked about, most of the public reaction has been from Fox fans on the right, including recently Ann Coulter. The speech has also generated dozens of posted comments on the website of the University of Oregon Daily Emerald, the student paper that was the first to report Carroll's words. * And: Stefan Kanfer, a former editor at Time writing at DuckSeason.org, endorses the message but not the messenger. ** Plus: Letters to the Times run against Carroll.
Turns out that Carroll had tried out some of his talking points in March at a talk to members of the American Copy Editors Society. According to a story posted on the web by an attendee:
"There is in America a whole galaxy of organizations that have the trappings of news, but are not news organizations because their ethical core is a whole different genre," Carroll said.
"They are into marketing. They are into politics, and a truly pernicious subset of politics that we know as attack politics. They use data when they have it. When they don't, they use falsehoods," he said.
An example of that genre, Carroll said, were the radio talk shows, attack Web sites and other "pseudo media" that picked up the "fabrications" written by a self-employed columnist regarding the series of stories the L.A. Times ran about Schwarzenegger. The Times' editors knew the stories would be controversial, they knew they would be criticized, and they knew there would be anger and angst. But Carroll said they didn't know they would face attacks that questioned the paper's integrity.
Carroll said that if he were responding to such criticism again, he wouldn't let 24 hours go by until the next news cycle; he would respond immediately by e-mail and copy it to every news Web site.
"If someone says something false that attacks your integrity, you should attack that like a lion. You have to kill these things before the attacker becomes a national celebrity," Carroll said.
The "national celebrity" line appears to be an allusion to columnist Jill Stewart, who became a frequent guest on talk shows after attacking the LAT's groping stories about Schwarzenegger. Carroll, in his Oregon speech and earlier, called Stewart's claims flat-out fabrications.