Newton on LAT's Obama endorsement

In a long blog post at Opinion L.A., editorial page editor Jim Newton says the paper's editorial supporting Barack Obama has gotten a near-record response and was written wholly without influence from Sam Zell or Chicago. "I do not know who Sam Zell supports for president," he writes. Newton also explains that some reader comments got deleted.

A couple readers complained that their replies were not posted. I can’t answer for all of those because different people monitored the message board at different times through the weekend, but I was at the helm of that process through the first wave on Friday, and I can tell you that yes, I did delete some responses. Some were profane. Some were racist. Some were threatening to me, the board or to readers who submitted comments. I did not delete any message because it criticized the editorial itself unless the same message was objectionable for those other reasons. I know some people will think that we select replies because they agree with us. All I can tell you is the opposite is true: We especially like to give space to opposing views. No comment was edited, and nothing was rejected because of the position it took on the editorial or the candidates.

Our determination to allow wide latitude on our message boards does produce some disquieting results. Many readers lobbed false charges – notably, the allegation that Obama is a Muslim – and a few were rough on each other. That’s a shame, but to be expected, I suppose, in a campaign that has become as testy as this one. Free speech can be ennobling or destructive, but we’re hardly ones to squelch it; instead, we enforce broad guidelines of decency and allow within them a lot of opportunity for nastiness.

I do hope that as readers continue to argue over this editorial, and over the issues and people in the campaign, they will reach for the ideal of disagreeing over ideas without pillorying opponents.

The endorsement has received 1,165 comments so far.

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