Last week the Los Angeles Times announced it was laying off 115 news staff, in the middle of labor negotiations no less. While I take no joy in seeing people lose their jobs, a part of me thinks that the demise of the Times and other California papers may be for the best, at least for the State’s readers.
Of course, such tactics aren’t all that new at the Times. Harrison Gray Otis, one of the founding executives of the paper, was well known for his anti-union crusading. In fact, his hostility to unions made the Times a target of a bombing campaign that killed 20 employees at the newspaper’s headquarters in 1910.
Yes, hard to believe, but there once was a time when California’s major news outlets were conservative—or at least not uniformly Left. In addition to Otis, there was William Randolph Hearst, a fervent America-Firster and anti-communist, who built a publishing empire from the San Francisco Examiner. Herb Klein, a longtime Nixon aide, was executive editor at the San Diego Union (now Union-Tribune). And the Orange County Register was known for its libertarian editorial stances.
Even into the early 2000s the Union-Tribune, the Orange County Times, and others could be relied on for sensible, right-of-center news coverage and editorials—at least some of the time. But all that has changed. Up and down California, a state the size of Italy with a population almost as large, readers are fed one, uniform, orthodox, progressive-Left perspective day after day. It’s no wonder its politics are so one-sided.
And it’s not just the newspapers. Local television news has long stopped caring about ratings and instead embraced a “public interest” ethos. Long gone are the live televised car chases and the sensational “ratings week” stories. Local TV news is now just a long Public Service Announcement “informing” viewers of one government program, handout, health program (overwhelmingly “mental”), 1-800 number, or Lefty community event after another. Local TV news has simply become an extension of the government’s public information efforts.
Speaking of which, we come to National Public Radio (NPR)—the official state media organ. Much more the PBS, NPR has carved out a space (with the assistance of government subsidy) as the Ministry of Truth. Going by the testimonials of loyal listeners on my local station, NPR is not only a reliable source of news but something of a religious movement. During these plugs, listeners speak of the station in reverential tones as a source of truth, solace, healing, sanity, and inspiration. Can I get a Halleluiah!?
In addition to news, NPR has placed itself at the nexus of art and politics. Based on my listening, the last quarter of every news hour (maybe more on weekends) is devoted to some author, actor, musician or other spreading the DEI/CRT gospel under cover of entertainment, in addition to other programs devoted to the “Arts.”
Again, conservative talk radio used to provide a counterbalance to NPR. It’s hard to believe that Rush Limbaugh exploded onto the national airwaves not from a station in Texas or Alabama, but Sacramento of all places. Sadly, with the rise of podcasts and a younger generation that has had no exposure to AM radio, talk radio is not what is once was.
But back to the Los Angeles Times. I can’t help but notice that most of the staff let go appear to be working journalists, in other words the people charged with gathering the news. Still on the payroll are George Skelton, Robin Abcarian, Jackie Calmes, and Mark Barabak who combined haven’t had an original thought in decades but can be relied on to churn out reliably progressive “think pieces,” thus proving that the purpose of the Times is influencing public opinion, not providing useful information.
Sure, something has been lost with the demise of the local newspaper, especially those with ample resources and wide coverage. But in the end, they–along with most other media outlets—have ceased to serve any function other than advancing a political agenda.