Monday, 30 March 1998
The Editors, Los Angeles Times
Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
re: Front Page, "GOP Holds Fast Against Pressure to Slash Taxes," Janet Hook, Monday, March 30, 1998
In the headline, subtitle, and lead paragraph to your front page story, "GOP Holds Fast Against Pressure to Slash Taxes" (Janet Hook, Monday, March 30, 1998), the Los Angeles Times once again gives us an excellent object lesson in how to practice politically biased journalism.
The headline starts off suspiciously enough. The expression "holds fast" implies moral fortitude, which already implies that cutting taxes is a weak or immoral thing to do. But then the slant of the story comes out unmistakably in the subtitle: "Hard-liners, however, see leaders reneging on signature Republican issues." Now why is it that those who wish to cut taxes are the "hard-liners"? Since taxes have done little but increase for decades, why are not the defenders of these high taxes the "hard-liners"? But the term "hard-liners" is hardly ever used except for bad guys; and so we are subtly, or not so subtly, given to understand that the desire to cut taxes is bad.
The lead paragraph solidly confirms the slant of the story. Despite "election year pressures," i.e. a desire to pander to voters wanting more of their own money, and "GOP promises of tax reductions as far as the eye can see," i.e. careless and irresponsible campaign promises to reduce the size, cost, and power of government, "Republicans in Congress are doing a remarkable thing," i.e. they are betraying the voters and opting for even bigger, costlier, and more powerful government. There is, of course, nothing "remarkable" about that. It is a way of life for politicians. The Republicans have simply gotten with the same old Washington program.
On an editorial page, the political preferences expressed in this piece are only to be expected. But as a news story on the front page, concealing its preferences behind loaded expressions and slanted language, it is a disgrace. It only confirms the LA Times, not so much as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, which it certainly is anyway, but as a willing accomplice of a political class whose every action tends to the growth of government and so to the augmentation of the power of that class.
If your reporters are going to do this kind of thing, at least be fashionable by proclaiming your bias and "subjective position" explicitly, so people simply looking for news and straight reporting will not bother to waste their money on you.
Kelley L. Ross,
Instructor of Philosophy, Los Angeles Valley College;
Candidate, Libertarian Party, State Assembly District 40