LA Times Gets a Karma Beatdown

@THE GUSS REPORT-Big, rich crocks teeming with irony landed on the LA Times last week, and the news got worse for it by the minute. 

The paper, infamous for swooning over failed incumbents, endorsing their bad ideas (as well as their children for public office) and every nanny-state idea to cross its path despite big, bold evidence of their failures, was suddenly thrust into experiencing its consequences. 

To quote Redd Foxx on Sanford and Son, the LA Times is heading to Elsie…El Segundo. 

Grab a spoon and dig-in to the Timesnow experiencing for itself these familiar themes: 

#1 – It can’t afford the landlord’s rent increase 

When Times employees got to meet Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong last week, the richest man in LA and its prospective new owner (more on that prospective thing in a minute), it learned of the consequence of its landlord demanding $1 million more per month in rent, starting this summer; they are moving to El Segundo, which is sometimes malodorously referred to as Smell Segundo and The Deuce for its downwind issues. 

#2 – Their commutes are going to become insufferable. 

Whoever still subscribes to the Times may have laughed at its employees’ epiphany, as reported in the paper, about the move: 

“Many of our staff members expressed concerns about unfeasible commutes and about not being close to the downtown institutions we cover.” 

Unfeasibleas in the severe traffic congestion on the Sepulveda Pass and the 10 Freeway; the urine, homelessness, illegal vendors, musicians and crime on the subway; and those bicycle lanes which have replaced so many traffic lanes, is going to be experienced by one and all. Welcome to 4 miles per hour for no reason at all, folks. 

#3 – Walking through feces and other misery in downtown LA is no picnic. 

Times reporters have long-been accustomed to having offices across the streetfrom LA City Council, the LA County Supervisors, the courts and events at Grand Park, which is conveniently situated between all of them. 

Moving them to El Segundo would be ridiculous!  Instead, they will be moved to the also-costly-but-not-as-costly leased space at the Times’ printing press at 2000 East 8th Street, two miles away from the action. The irony thereis that they will have to go through the feces, needles, stray animals and homeless people-strewn Skid Row to get to the day’s meetings, trials and events. That misery should end in 2023, when the Times’ lease runs out there, assuming that printing presses won’t be obsolete by then. 

Want more? The person responsible for so much of this mess, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (who at 47 years of age has spent the last 18 years as LA City Councilmember, City Council president and Mayor) was joyfully and disingenuously celebrated with softball, snowflake questions as a possible, but long-shot presidential candidate by the Times’ Mark Barabak this weekend: 

Barabak:In a potentially large and varied Democratic field, what makes you uniquely qualified or suited to be president? 

Garcetti:I leave that to others like you to analyze. I'm proud of the record we've built in Los Angeles and its applicability to the smallest town, the biggest city, all the local communities. 

Instead of following-up with a challenge about LA’s worst-in-the-nation homelessness; the severe traffic issues; crime; affordable housing and phony animal shelter statistics, Barabak asked a predictably sycophantic question: 

Barabak: You're an accomplished jazz pianist. Your three favorites? 

That question. 

That right there shows the elitism (or cognitive dissonance) of the LA Times

Where was the challenge to Garcetti’s claims about his record, Mark? I wish upon you many hours on the Sepulveda Pass where, if you’re not on before 6 a.m. Monday through Friday, you have a sea of red tail lights ahead of you, and an ocean of white headlights behind you. 

Even a question about Garcetti’s effort, but failure, to get the Dodgers back on TV outlets not owned by Spectrum would have been a more appropriate question. It is no wonder that the Timeshas resorted to laughable, PBS-like begging for subscribers, “support quality journalism…99 cents for 4 weeks.” 

They’re begging for 3 cents a day, folks. (Note: save that 3 cents and open an incognito window in your browser for unlimited, free access) 

#4 – The Boss and his Wife Just Don’t Understand 

Things are so bad with the Timesand the remarkable three-month drop in the price of the stock of its owner, TRONC, that Dr. Soon-Shiong appears to be negotiating for a better price. That brought about a potential other suitor for all of TRONC, including the Times, as told by the NY Post.  

So, the Timesis about to move out of its forever home, due to its prospective new owner, but has no solid handle on whether he is actually going to end up owning it. 

And good luck with Dr. Soon-Shiong’s wife, former actress Michele Chan, being involved in the decision-making.   Because a couple with no experience in an industry is always a great idea, right former Dodger owners Frank and Jamie McCourt? 

#5 – The Grass Isn’t Greener 

As if that’s not bad enough, dozens of TRONC’s other local employees (several who used to work for the Times) who had moved on to new opportunities at Tribune Interactive's Los Angeles-based video and online content group, lost their jobs last week “due to a change in business strategy.” 

While there is nothing at all funny about good, regular people experiencing the misery that we have all long-endured, we can now collectively say to those who enabled the politicians and policies that allowed it to fester, welcome to the club.


(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. Verifiable tips and story ideas can be sent to him at [email protected]. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.