The L.A. Times — the left wing rag with Michael Ramirez as its editorial cartoonist and Max Boot as an op-ed columnist — on Monday begins picking up the conservative comic strip "Mallard Fillmore." The strip by Bruce Tinsley, which runs in more than 420 newspapers, was the subject of a feature story in today's LAT.
On the comic pages, where it runs in most papers, the strip stands out like George W. Bush at a Michael Moore movie screening. Mallard has satirized Democratic candidate John Kerry, defended the war in Iraq and railed against the strangling burdens of taxation. Conservative America celebrates him as its answer to left-wing strips such as "Doonesbury" and, most recently, "The Boondocks."
But no less a topic than politics is political correctness and what Tinsley regards as its big-footed romp across the American cultural landscape. Mallard's sensitive snout sniffs out and lampoons its influence practically everywhere, on college campuses, in society's dietary obsessions and among Hollywood celebrities, to name just a few.
The Times apparently will add another conservative strip, "Prickly City" by Scott Stantis, next month. [ * And the losers are: Franklin Avenue blogs that "Zack Hill" and "Grand Avenue" are being dropped from the LAT comics pages.] Meanwhile, the op-ed page recently added another liberal when Patt Morrison's columns were moved there. She's no longer writing the Inside Politics column in the Monday California section. She has joined Robert Scheer on the commentary page.
For those who can't get enough of the liberal bias wars — or who still think it's a simple all-or-nothing proposition — NYU journalism school chair Jay Rosen has a complex think piece on the subject up that considers LAT Editor John Carroll's recent assaults on the news values at Fox News.
Let's underline what Carroll is saying, in a speech he worked carefully on and clearly saw as his statement: The bias wars are--at least in part--the eruption into the press of the "attack" style in politics, but instead of defeating a candidate, the goal is to drive up the negatives of news organizations like the Los Angeles Times.
Fox News Channel, in Carroll's view, is a dangerous hybrid: a news and propaganda organization, with some of the codes of entertainment thrown in. Its president, Roger Ailes, is a man accustomed to "smearing politicians." He has changed industries, "but his bag of tricks remains the same." Fox gains, of course, every time the mainstream media is successfully smeared. And pseudo-journalism gains every time people choose to believe it.
Rosen looks at Carroll's campaign from several angles — and posts comments on the bias question — at his Pressthink blog.