The UFW, the LA Times, and the “liberal media”

The LA Times story about the corruption of the United Farmworkers Union is discouraging for fans of unions, but encouraging for defenders of the much-maligned “mainstream media.”

Mike’s right, of course: the LA Times UFW piece is devastating, and makes tough reading for the friends of labor.

On the bright side, the fact that the story ran illustrates the basic bogosity of the claim that the LAT, NYT, WaPo, etc., constitute a “liberal media” to which the Murdoch empire merely provides an equal and opposite spin. When the LAT sees a good news story, it runs that story, without any reference to whether it’s going to hurt Democrats or the liberal cause. (Sometimes that’s true even when the story itself turns out to be a crock, as with the phony “Chinese political contribution” story that the LAT broke just before election day of 1996, preventing the Democrats from retaking the House.)

I’m not saying that the mainstream press achieves a perfect balance, if such a thing were even definable. But by and large they’re in the journalism business, not the political-organizing business. That’s the difference between them and Fox News or the Washington Times or the New York Post.

Criticize the mainstream media when they blow it? Sure. No institution ought to be free of criticism, and the more important the institution is, the more criticism it needs. But the right-wing attack on the mainstream media, like the parallel attacks on the courts and the universities, is part of a campaign to eliminate any credible source of criticism of the Beloved Leader and the God-and-Mammon coalition he leads and serves.

Update: Stephen Kaus does a nice takedown of the Roggio nonsense that Glenn Reynolds, among others, has been pushing. Michael Hilzik, in two long posts (#1 #2) that have attracted furious denunciation but haven’t been shown to be wrong in any important particular (though I wouldn’t, myself, have made the comparison to Stalin), provides chatper-and-verse refutation of a fairly typical Red-bloggic screed against the “mainsteam media.”

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com