Left blogs jump on Hiller

Nikki Finke and John Amato at Crooks and Liars have posted lengthy pieces on the past right-wing connections of new L.A. Times publisher David Hiller. He was an assistant to Attorney General William French Smith with current Chief Justice John Roberts during the Reagan Administration, plays racquetball with Donald Rumsfeld and apparently authored a Reagan-era proposal to detain Cuban and Haitian refugees in what some called concentration camps. It's juicy background, and should have been in today's Times coverage. But both posts are more than a bit overheated. Finke accuses Times editors of "covering up" Hiller's past and makes the dubious claim that the LAT editorial page was moved under the publisher last year to answer Tribune concerns about losing conservative readers. Here's another option: Times editor Dean Baquet told me last year that he insisted the editorial writers report to the publisher, as they do at most American newspapers — the Times had been the exception by having the opinion side answer to the newsroom editor. Amato, who loses some credibility up front by saying erroneously that the Tribune fired Baquet, calls Hiller a "right-wing hatchet man" and says the Times "may well become the Moonie Times of the west." Huh? Neither writer offers any data points connecting Hiller to political motives, right or left, since the Reagan years. They may exist, I don't know, but they aren't in the blogs.

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