Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The LA Mayor's 'Lifetime Record'

One of the journalism's most egregious sins are sins of omission -- reporting on an event or person and, for example, acting like a stenographer. Failing to call a person in power to account when he tells a blatant lie. That happened back on Feb. 10, in a New York Times story on race riots at the Los Angeles County jail.

The article blandly reported Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa saying as follows:
"I feel, as someone who has dedicated his life to trying to bridge communities and promote understanding between racial groups, we obviously all should be concerned about the level of violence and racial nature of the conflicts,'' he said.
This may seem like a politician's bland pap, and it sailed right by me when I read it at the time. But an eagle-eyed reader knew better -- and dashed off an email to the reporter who wrote the story, Randal C. Archibold.

The reader pointed out to Archibold that far from being an advocate of peace and light between the races all his life, that he had once been a member of MEChA. He noted that this is "a racist Chicano separatist organization which advocates the cession of the Southwest from the US to create Aztlan, an entity where all non-Chicanos would be forcibly removed. This flatly contradicts his statement about lifelong commitments to racial harmony."

MEChA's extremist agenda is certainly no secret -- and neither is the mayor's former role in that group.

However, though raising a valid point, this reader received no response to repeated, polite (though forceful) emails -- until March 1, when Archibold finally sent him a snippy response to his question as to whether his association with MEChA should have been mentioned. "No," he said, "Thanks for reading."

This is more than just typical Times arrogance or even bad journalism. It is an example of bad journalism from an arrogant hack who hasn't a clue of how bad he is. Just another day in the life of a once-great newspaper.


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