@THE GUSS REPORT-The year 2020 is playing out as a worst-case scenario for police everywhere, including at the LAPD and its peers in neighboring communities, as nationwide George Floyd protests became riots that begot the defund the police movement.
In the LA media-sphere, no outlet seemingly relishes its anti-LAPD bias more than the struggling LA Times, most recently demonstrated by its knowingly dishonest story about a recent pro-LAPD rally outside of the agency’s headquarters in downtown LA.
That story, by Times’ law enforcement reporter Cindy Chang (who has a law degree), was titled, “Amid a national movement to defund the police, LAPD officers stage a protest of their own.”
Problem #1: The LAPD didn’t throw the event; its supporters did.
Problem #2: Chang knew this was an untruthful claim because she spoke with the event organizers – at the event and was told such – before writing the story which she knew was not thrown by the agency, its officers or their representatives.
Problem #3: Chang significantly under-represented the size of the turnout supporting the LAPD, which she describes as “. . .a crowd of about 100 officers and their supporters. . .” and “a handful of counterprotesters. . .”
The LAPD confirmed that the crowd was 500-600, including many carrying signs with supportive messages in Spanish.
After the story was published, Chang was challenged on her misleading claims by, among others, retired LAPD Detective Moses Castillo, who spent three decades with the agency and has extensive ties to LA media outlets. A text exchange between Chang and Castillo was forwarded to this column, in which Chang still defended her claims, writing to Castillo, “Hold your horses. . . I read the story again and think the text could have been clearer though the headline isn’t inaccurate. Working up a change.”
Castillo responded, “you know the headline is not accurate. You(r) picture show(s) uniformed officers who at that moment are keeping BLM folks separated from supporters of LAPD. Those officers were on duty as security. Not part of the rally.”
During a brief exchange with this column, Chang refused to answer questions about her misleading claims, saying she is on furlough, but gruffly added before abruptly hanging up, “I don’t see why you’re interested in this. It’s not a big deal.”
Perhaps Chang is right; it isn’t a big deal, except for the part about who organized the event; who attended it; who was there as security; and how many people, including those in the Spanish-speaking immigrant community, came out to express support for the LAPD. But would she say the same if her LA Times salary was randomly changed from hundreds of dollars per day to dozens, and paid in a different currency altogether?
Castillo told this column, “the LA Times has historically bashed the LAPD, always looking for an angle to cast us in the most unfavorable light, going back to my earliest years with the Department.”
What is a big deal is that the public and media outlets which re-publish LA Times stories assume that it reports honestly, which it doesn’t and didn’t. At its most innocent, it’s sloppy. At its worst, it’s anti-LAPD bias.
Josh Rubenstein, LAPD Public Information Director, emailed me to say, “While the gathering in front of LAPD headquarters was not coordinated or organized by the Los Angeles Police Department, it was a welcome change to see hundreds of Angelenos in front of the building, shouting supportive messages for our police officers.”
And that is precisely what took place at the rally.
Chang’s story on the Times’ website eventually had corrections made to it, but still misrepresents the size of the crowd among other things and fails to inform its readers that any corrections were made. To its credit, ABC-7, corrected the story on its social media (upon request by Castillo), though as of this weekend, other media outlets which follow the Times’ lead had still not done so.
The news section of the Times long ago transitioned into a public relations agency for the politicians and policies it protects and promotes while condemning those it endeavors to kill.
But isn’t that why the Times also has an opinion and editorial section?
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is nominated for a 2020 Los Angeles Press Club journalism award for Best Political Commentary, and has contributed to CityWatch, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Cumulus Media, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.