LA Observed Notes: 'Our Dishonest President'


My occasional roundup on media, politics and place from our sources and the media. For more join 24,305 followers @LAObserved on Twitter.

At the top

Everyone with a brain and a good soul, no matter their politics, is bound to reach their limit with the Donald Trump mistake at some point. For the Los Angeles Times editorial page that moment came this weekend. A full-page Sunday editorial teased on the front page kicked off four days of editorials under the banner of Our Dishonest President. The wording is strong. The Times editorial board concludes that, just 70-something days into the Trump Administration, it is already clear that any hopes he would grow up on the job, mature past all the "noise and bluster" to become a serious person and an American leader, is not happening. A sample:
It was no secret during the campaign that Donald Trump was a narcissist and a demagogue who used fear and dishonesty to appeal to the worst in American voters. The Times called him unprepared and unsuited for the job he was seeking, and said his election would be a “catastrophe.”

Still, nothing prepared us for the magnitude of this train wreck....

In a matter of weeks, President Trump has taken dozens of real-life steps that, if they are not reversed, will rip families apart, foul rivers and pollute the air, intensify the calamitous effects of climate change and profoundly weaken the system of American public education for all.


What is most worrisome about Trump is Trump himself. He is a man so unpredictable, so reckless, so petulant, so full of blind self-regard, so untethered to reality that it is impossible to know where his presidency will lead or how much damage he will do to our nation.

The Times concludes that the nation survived Andrew Jackson and Richard Nixon, slavery and "devastating wars. Most likely, it will survive again." But California's biggest newspaper says that "those who oppose the new president’s reckless and heartless agenda must make their voices heard," via protests and other means. The bold approach has its critics in the Times' online letters, though the Times' opinion department also posted a story on how unpopular that pro-Trump comments are on the paper's website. That website, by the way, has rolled out a new comments engine that appears to encourage some form of buying-in by readers and gets rid of years of old comments.

Media notes

paul-magers-grab.jpgCBS 2 anchor Paul Magers last week announced his immediate retirement from Channel 2 after 13 years on the news here. He explained in a recorded segment that the reason he has been off the air since January was to seek treatment for alcoholism. "I needed help," he tells co-anchor Pat Harvey. in the release from CBS LA, Magers said "“By retiring now while I’m relatively young and healthy, I look forward to doing all the things with family and friends that are hard to schedule when you have a fulltime job that includes odd hours. I definitely won’t miss putting on a suit, tie and make-up, except on Halloween. And I am excited to now have the time to pursue my longtime passion, amateur puppeteering. All kidding aside, I want to say how thankful I am to have been blessed many times over by working for and with such incredibly talented, gracious and generous people. I am especially grateful to CBS for these past 13 years."

Public radio funding: Southern California Public Radio president Bill Davis says the proposed Trump cut in funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting would take $1.3 million from KPCC, "the equivalent of 780 hours of locally produced programming, or more than a dozen staff positions." KPCC's rise into a news and public affairs powerhouse began with a $500,000 CPB grant in the 1990s, when it was "one of the least-listened-to public radio stations in the country." Now, says Davis, KPCC "has the second-largest newsroom in Los Angeles and the third-largest newsroom in Southern California, and we produce more regional news and public affairs programming than any public radio station in the US." He has a piece in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

mollyhfiniraq.jpgIn Mosul: Middle East bureau chief Molly Hennessy-Fiske and photographer Marcus Yam are covering the hell out of the war and civilian deaths in Iraq for the Los Angeles Times. Their latest: Take Ahmed and let me die, Yam's photos on Twitter, MHF on Twitter.

Patrick Soon-Shiong continues his push for control of Tronc and, possibly, ownership of the LA Times. Stories last week in the New York Times, LAT, and elsewhere are following the contest for power between Soon-Shiong, one of LA's richest billionaires, and Tronc head Michael Ferro. The fight is the LA Business Journal print cover. The newest blow to Ferro is the departure of Bill Adee, the company's head of digital development. "Bill Adee is the smartest guy in Tronc's C-suite," says Politico Media. "Tronc Chairman Michael Ferro is striving to save journalism, but he suddenly has a much more immediate challenge: retaining control of the newspaper company," writes Crain's Chicago. And Ken Doctor wonders, "what’s the connection between this week’s FCC’s twin deregulation moves and Rupert Murdoch buying the L.A. Times?"

Riots +25: The LA Weekly is getting a jump on this month's 25th anniversary of the riots that swept Los Angeles and other cities after the Simi Valley acquittal of the LAPD officers who beat motorist Rodney King. They have talked to former AP photographer Craig Fujii, who was beaten by the mob at Florence and Normandie and stripped of his cameras, and then-Councilman Mike Woo.

Reality check: OC Weekly reporters, photographers and editor Gustavo Arellano talk about the violence directed at Weekly journalists during that Trump protest in Huntington Beach last month. OCW

Covering Mexico: Norte, a newspaper in Juarez, is closing down due to the dangers faced by journalists in Mexico. AP

LA Obit: Gary Austin, founder of The Groundling Theatre in Los Angeles in 1974, died on Saturday at Cedars-Sinai after having cancer. He was 75. The Groundlings, of course, launched numerous SNL careers, beginning with Laraine Newman, and also was the place where the Elvira and Pee-wee Herman characters were born.

Unrandom media notes: Mike Allen of Axios writes "It's Day 72 of President Trump, and he hasn't had a good day since his address to Congress. That was over a month ago." Start-up Axios has good access to the Trump White House and has been plenty patient with the fumbles and foibles, but Allen's March 31 sum-up says that Trump "now realizes this approach has flopped, and feels baffled and paralyzed by how to fix it, numerous friends and advisers tell us."... The Washington Post profiles young Trump aide Julia Hahn, Steve Bannon's right-hand by way of Beverly Hills and Harvard-Westlake... Fox News and star host Bill O'Reilly have paid about $13 million over the years to address complaints from women about O’Reilly’s behavior, including to former Fox News anchor Laurie Dhue, the New York Times reported. CNN's Brian Stelter says Fox execs expect more to come: If Bill O'Reilly weren't the biggest star at Fox News, would he still have a job at Fox News?... O'Reilly's crisis communications rep is Mark Fabiani, the former LA City Hall operative who also advised the Clintons about the Lewinsky scandal. WashPost opinion blogger Erik Wemple calls O'Reilly "an awful, awful man."... Does Rex Tillerson look his underlings in the eye? The Washington Post and the Associated Press don’t agree... A note from Register publisher Ron Hasse one year since the creation of the Southern California News Group... New owner American Media Inc is closing the West Coast office of Us Weekly and laying off some of the staff... Inside The Guardian’s sinking US expansion, and also from Digiday Inside the Atlantic’s plans for European expansion... Former LAT correspondent Dean Murphy is moving from editor of the New York Times BizDay section to be an associate editor working on “enterprise journalism across the newsroom, with a focus on investigative and enterprise reporting driven by the new administration." Read the memo. Also political reporter Nick Confessore moves to writer at large at the NYT Magazine... NPR West in Culver City is advertising to hire a deputy managing editor... The LA Times is looking for a lead digital designer and developer for special projects in the newsroom... BuzzFeed is closing its San Francisco-based Open Lab for Journalism, Technology, and the Arts.

2017-Book-Prize-LEAD-by-Louis-Wheatley-e1490921403457.jpgBook note: Mitchell Duneier, author of "Ghetto: The Invention of a Place, the History of an Idea" and a sociologist at Princeton University, has won the seventh annual Zócalo Book Prize

ICYMI: Some good reads

• How Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi became one of the most coveted minds in baseball, by Andy McCullough in the LA Times.
• pbj-espn-grab.jpgThe NBA's Secret Addiction, by Baxter Holmes for ESPN.
• Philip Baker Hall is your favorite actor whose name you can't quite place, by Karen Heller in the Washington Post.
• What Does It Mean to Become Californian, D.J. Waldie in Boom
• The Hollywood Exec and the Hand Transplant That Changed His Life, by Amy Wallace in Los Angeles Magazine.
• Arturo Alva-Moreno Was World Trade Center Victim #2,754. Or Was He? Kirk Pepi for Mel Magazine.

Media people doing stuff

nick-ut-retires-iris.jpgNick Ut had a final round of retirement fetes and has turned in his laptop and cameras to AP. He is now officially retired after 51 years with the wire service, most of them in the Los Angeles bureau. Our Iris Schneider was at one of the parties.

Incoming USC Annenberg dean Willow Bay talks with Patt Morrison about the state of news and journalism education... Former Paramount chief Sherry Lansing on her new memoir, talking to the Hollywood Reporter... Science and environmental journalist Marla Cone, ex of the LA Times, is joining the Center for Investigative Reporting and Reveal as a senior editor to investigate conflicts between science and government... adapt-cover.jpgLAT science writer Amina Kahn has a book out this month: Adapt: How Humans Are Tapping into Nature's Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future... LA Times business reporter Shan Li left the staff on Friday, reportedly to travel the world... Kurt Streeter on his dad being the only black player on the Oregon Ducks basketball team in 1951... Former Clipper, Bruin and Crossroads School star Baron Davis and his Black Santa Company have put out the Historic Icons Coloring Book... KTLA anchor Frank Buckley's latest podcast guest is Jim Avila, the ABC News senior national correspondent and former White House correspondent. They talk about Trump's truthfulness... Stop Blaming California for Donald Trump, writes Joe Mathews for Zocalo: "It's Not the Golden State's Fault That Its Diversity and Success Sparked a Backlash."... Andrew Gumbel covers the Hollywood Sign access controversy for the Guardian... Lynne Rossetto Kasper retires from public radio's Splendid Table.

ICYMI: Alex Tizon, the former Seattle bureau chief for the LA Times, died in his sleep last month at home in Eugene, Oregon. He was 57 and a University of Oregon assistant professor. LA Times obit... Daniel Hernandez, formerly of Vice, LA Times and LA Weekly, is now the head of Raze News... Variety hired Shirley Halperin to be Executive Editor, Music... Ventura County Star Editor John Moore retired. Darrin Peschka takes over under the new title of news director.

Also this:

Politics and governing

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, is having his moment in the national spotlight. He's become a leading Dem critic of Trump, a force to reckon with on the investigations into Russia and Michael Flynn, and a favorite of some California Democrats to run for the Senate. Axios reports on his recent visit to the White House. "He has become President Trump’s public prosecutor," the LAT's Sarah Wire writes. Larry Wilson in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on how Schiff is handling fame. George Skelton columnizes that Schiff and Republican Devin Nunes "couldn't be less alike — just like the two Californias they come from." In the Daily News story on Schiff, USC's Dan Schnur says: “Schiff is on a rocketship right now. He’s becoming a Democratic Party folk hero for the way he’s been taking on the White House, and he’s developed a tremendous national profile with a lot of voters and a lot of media who didn’t know much about him not too long ago.”

South Bay and Westside Dem Ted Lieu is also getting attention for his resistance to Trump. Out-tweeting Trump is making Lieu a political star, the Washington Post says. Reporter Chris Cadelago of the Sacramento Bee quips: "A lesson for the kids out there: Relentless trolling will get you somewhere. Just ask @tedlieu."

CD34: The election is Tuesday for the central city congressional seat vacated by Xavier Becerra. Former Speaker John Perez, who dropped out citing his health, predicts to Politico's California Playbook that Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez leads coming into the runoff but then has real challenges from a second-place finisher such as Alejandra Campoverdi, Wendy Carrillo, Robert Lee Ahn, Maria Cabildo or Sara Hernandez. Regarding Campoverdi, Perez says "quite frankly, she’d be the one I’d be the most concerned about running against in a runoff if I was the leading candidate.” Also: KPCC's Human Voter Guide.

They cover the school board runoffs so this former school board reporter doesn't have to: LA School Report's Sarah Favot on Imelda Padilla vs. Kelly Gonez in district 6.

Notes: Maybe it’s time to stop underestimating Eric Garcetti, says Jon Regardie in the Downtown News... Tailgate, tire and wheel thefts are climbing in the San Fernando Valley DN... How Trump adviser Stephen Miller divided a Santa Monica synagogue THR... Claremont McKenna is the academic home of Trumpism, in the Chronicle of Higher Education... Wayne Spindler, the City Hall gadfly who last year submitted a City Council comment card containing Ku Klux Klan imagery and a racial slur, faces a criminal charge of illegally possessing an assault rifle... The NYT's Upshot blog re-ran all the numbers and concludes that defecting white voters, not turnout, won the 2016 election for Donald Trump.


"Zoot Suit" closed Sunday at the Mark Taper Forum but not before the New York Times' Jennifer Medina observed, "Some of the shows most devoted fans are showing up to the performances dressed in their own zoot suits and vintage attire." NYT. Previously at LA Observed

The Little Knittery, home of the pink pussy hats popular at the January women's marches, is being priced out of Atwater Village. The Eastsider LA

American Sriracha sauce is finding a market in Vietnam. LA Times

California and Los Angeles, the state and county with the most people looking skyward, report the most UFOs. Hard to believe right? San Diego U-T

The Shasta Pack of gray wolves "missing" from Northern California looks to be in Nevada these days. Sierra Sun

Opening Day

The baseball season began on Sunday. The Dodgers open at home against the Padres on Monday afternoon with former Giants nemesis Sergio Romo now in the bullpen and Yasiel Puig still on the team — and without Vin Scully in the booth for the time since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. Time passes on. Still no Dodgers on TV for most people in Southern California but the team will throw a bone by putting a few more games on the air during the season. Joe Davis talks to Tom Hoffarth about succeeding Scully.

The Angels and Mike Trout open their season Monday evening in Oakland.

The Giants' Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher to ever hit two home runs on Opening Day — for now he is the league leader in homers. But the Giants blew the save, just as they did 30 times last year, and SF lost.

Katy Feeney, the former PR director for major league baseball whose family brought the Giants to San Francisco and whose father was president of the National League, died on Saturday, one day ahead of what would have been her first opening day outside of baseball in 39 years., Dodgers, Giants, Peter Gammons

Selected tweets


More by Kevin Roderick:
'In on merit' at USC
Read the memo: LA Times hires again
Read the memo: LA Times losing big on search traffic
Google taking over LA's deadest shopping mall
Gustavo Arellano, many others join LA Times staff
Recent Notes stories on LA Observed:
LA Observed Notes: Clippers hire big-time writer, unfunny Emmys, editor memo at the Times and more
LA Observed Notes: Media notes, homeless ruling, scooters and lion cubs
LA Observed Notes: Times hiring binge, LA Weekly investor sues, media tidbits
LA Observed Notes: Editor moves, NYT steps on JGold turf, jobs and more
LA Observed Notes: Long Beach, LAist, Soon-Shiong and much more
LA Observed Notes: Soon-Shiong era at LA Times begins
LA Observed Notes: Bourdain's LA, Villaraigosa fades to black
LA Observed Notes: After the holiday weekend edition