Accuracy in Media

It’s no surprise to anyone that the Los Angeles Times carries with it a certain degree of bias. But in light of recent policy decisions the second largest newspaper in the country’s reporting is just irresponsible.

Janet Hook’s most recent article on the passing of the Democrats’ stimulus package overtly paints House Republicans as partisan and divisive. She seems to characterize President Obama and congressional Democrats as victims of a bitter organization still licking its wounds from November.

The the subhead for Hook’s “House passes $819-billion stimulus bill” reads, “In a strictly party-line vote, lawmakers approve Obama’s plan that expands jobless benefits, cuts taxes and spends on infrastructure, energy and education.”

Strinctly party line? Sure, the Republicans stood in solidarity against HR 1, but the last time I checked there were 11 Democrats who thought their own party’s bill was doomed to failure. Hook does report this tidbit, but has no problem using literary spin to bolster her personal political message. The second paragraph:

Obama had worked hard to gain bipartisan support for the $819-billion stimulus package, beginning to negotiate possible compromises with Republicans even before entering the White House. But the measure passed on a strict party-line vote, 244 to 188. Not a single Republican supported the bill, and only 11 out of 255 Democrats opposed it.

So poor President Obama, despite valiant efforts to convince Republicans to abandon the fiscal policies that brought an extraordinarily low 4% unemployment rate through the Bush-43 years, was unable to re-educate a single member of the House minority. What a bummer. Those GOPers must adamantly believe in depriving Americans of good buildings, sustainable energy and an adequate education system. And those 11 Democrats who see their own party’s fiscal irresponsibility? What do they matter? There were only 11 of them. What do they know? They must have bought into that “‘tired old Republican formula'” Rep. Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) and his far-left friends believe caused the entire fiscal mess. Who would have thought someone would–or could–actually agree with a Republican? (Catch the sarcasm?)

Janet Hook is entitled to her opinions. She can talk about her assessment of HR 1 all she wants with her friends, her family, on a blog, etc. If she was an editorialist, or a columnist, or worked for an analytical magazine like Newsweek or Time she would have every right to preach away about her partisan perceptions of Republican ignorance and the Democrat godliness.

But she’s not an editorialist. She is not writing to her friends and family, or on a blog. And she does not work for Newsweek, Time, or any similar publication. She is a reporter–a reporter for the second largest, and fourth most widely distributed newspaper in the country. She has a responsibility to give an objective report–not assessment or analysis–of the facts as they happened. It is not in her job description to flower up her phrasing with buzzwords or strategic phrasing, nor should it ever be.

Hook is an irresponsible reporter, and should be called out early and often for her transgressions. The news media is often nicknamed the “fourth branch of the government” for it’s ability to check and balance the other three. But if news outlets like the LA Times are going to assume that role, and not simply become partisan propaganda machines like so many former eastern bloc papers did through the Cold War, reporters like Hook need to remove their partisan preferences from their reporting or find another job.


Send an e-mail to Janet Hook at (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), and tell her to stop the spin.

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