Friday, November 11, 2005

The Grey Lady* shows her true colors

The LA Times announces another opinion page shakeup. The major sackings: lefty columnist Robert Scheer and Pulitzer Prize-winning conservative cartoonist Michael Ramirez. (Nuts and bolts of the deal are here.) Scheer and Ramirez are both syndicated, so they'll be OK. Can't say the same for the Times's readers. This post by the LA Weekly's Marc Cooper nails it: The Times has decided to sanitize its op-ed pages and lose two major local voices. (Cooper's a lefty, and can't stand Ramirez's politics, but he did offer a SoCal-based vision that nationally synidicated toonists -- who don't live here -- will not replicate.) For metropolitan dailies to continue to survive (if not flourish) in the changing media market, they have to offer unique local commentary from recognizable voices. Saving a few thousand (or maybe even $100k) by using freelancers rather than staff writers is no way to build readership.

*of the West

Speaking of dumb, dumb, dumb

Arnold asks California for a mulligan, saying the special election was a mistake and vowing to a) buddy up with legislative Democrats and b) get more political advice from his spouse.

Wow. Dan Walters's rather morose take on the governor's mea culpa strikes the right tone:

The Republican governor has every reason to be contrite - not because he was wrong to challenge the status quo, but because he did it so incompetently. His measures were poorly drafted and even more poorly presented to voters, allowing his enemies to bury them and his public standing in an avalanche of misleading television ads. ... He's shifting back to the mode that marked the first eight months of his governorship, in which he repeatedly catered to lawmakers' demands in hopes that they would cooperate on his larger agenda. But it didn't work when he had a 65 percent public approval rating. It's even less likely to work now.
That's why all the happy talk about "governing from the center" is sheer folly. Arnold needed to rally conservatives and populists to his cause of reform. He didn't get enough of them -- but he got almost enough to beat back the establishment. And now he seems ready to toss his political base overboard. It makes no sense -- and 35 million Californians will be poorer because of Arnold's indecision.

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