Why does the LAT employ an anti-Obama blogger anyway?

andrewmalcolm-lat.jpgIf you have wondered why the Los Angeles Times is the only big newspaper that pays a full-time staffer to blog partisan attacks on Obama and the Democrats — and has no one going after the the other side in a similar way — you're not alone. Top of the Ticket just marked its third anniversary. Rather than celebrate, Eric Boehlert at Media Matters posted a lengthy critique of Andrew Malcolm, the LAT's former editorial writer (and ex-Laura Bush aide) whose posts at Top of the Ticket gave up on fealty to smart analysis right about the time Obama was elected. Boehlert:

For instance, look at these insulting phrases one right-wing blogger has recently used to describe the president of the United States:

”the United States' Democratic Smoker-in-Chief”
“the Real Good Talker”
"Smoker-in-Chief"
"the community organizer"
"ex-state senator"
“The Smoker”
“the nation’s top talker”
“what's-his-name in the White House”
“Duffer-in-Chief”
“the ex-senator from Illinois”

Pretty shallow. But what do you expect from amateurish, fringe bloggers, right?

Here’s the catch: The right-wing blogger in question doesn’t post his childish put-downs at RedState or any one of other feral, Obama-hating sites. The blogger quoted above works for the Los Angeles Times, once considered to be one of the most important, prestigious newspapers in the country in terms of political coverage....

Trust me, if Malcolm wants to make his living as a human RNC talking point, and publish as much misinformation as he can, that's certainly his right. (He’s quite proficient at it, BTW.) And obviously I'm not suggesting there's anything wrong with raucous debate....What Malcolm does on top of that is routinely belittle and demean the presidency in a strange, and clearly unprofessional, manner that reflects quite poorly on the Times.

Malcolm has developed a whole second life as a conservative media pundit off his anti-Obama platform at the L.A. Times. It's easy to see what Malcolm gets out of it — he used to be pretty anonymous even within the paper — and the paper's website gets some national Republican eyeballs it wouldn't otherwise. But if you're the Times suits, why not double your pleasure with smart voices whose loyalty is to Times readers over ideological water carrying? If you're gonna go down the cheap hits route with shtick that wouldn't make the LAT's Op-Ed page, at least play the rest of the spectrum. The LAT may soon have to compete at home with the Wall Street Journal and New York Times — and they want to make a stand by boasting they're only interested in engaging the reddest of Republicans? Yeesh. Boehlert, by the way, argues the lack of balance violates published LAT guidelines: "If you look at the Times’ national political coverage, in terms of the daily partisan voices, there’s Malcolm doing his B-level, Obama-hating shtick, and that’s it. The Times’ Top of the Ticket blog has for years essentially consisted of straight news/analysis items punctuated by Malcolm’s Drudge-Lite routine." The Times' Readers' Representative reportedly replied that it's Malcolm's First Amendment right to blog for the L.A. Times. Yeesh again. Let's hope something got lost in the translation.

Noted: On days when Malcolm is offline, he now has a young fellow traveler at Top of the Ticket in former Bush flack and internet director Jimmy Orr.


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