Count Gary Andrew Poole of Time Magazine among the hacks like Adam Nagourney of the New York Times who mix myth with fantasy to spin a public relations narrative without truth for the benefit of the status quo at a time when the winds of change are blowing at hurricane force.
Here’s how he starts his story this week called “The Resurrection of Antonio Villaraigosa,” a headline you might recall was used here two weeks ago with a considerable degree of irony or even sarcasm.
But not so in Time Magazine
When he was a young man Antonio Villaraigosa, dropped out of school, was in numerous street fights, and had a tattoo inked on his right arm that read: Born to Raise Hell. In 2005 he became the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since 1872. It was practically scripted: the inspirational tale of a troubled boy from the gang-infested Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA who makes good, goes to City Hall, and turns Los Angeles into a “city of purpose.”
But, until last week, the mayoral tale of Antonio Villaraigosa was starting to look like a box office bomb. In 2007 came revelations of an extramarital affair with a Telemundo newscaster, which seriously hurt his popularity, particularly in the Latino community. His ambitious but ultimately misguided plan for a school district takeover was defeated in court. A weakening economy and his unsystematic management style led to even more political stasis.
While he will be trumpeted for his Latino roots in the coming months, he says the “Latino politician” tag frustrates him. He takes pride that he represents all Angelenos “even though half of the people hate me,” he laughs. “I am a coalition builder. I think that’s the best way to serve the president. Will I also talk to Latinos? Of course! I speak Spanish. But I am comfortable in any community.” He looks at this reporter, an Anglo, in the eye, smiles, and says, “I am comfortable with you, my brother.”
Quite apart from the perverse delight of having a laugh at Mainstream Media heavyweights being seduced at this late date by the charms of the mayor, there is something larger at stake worth a brief comment or two in light of the audacity of the LA Times to start charging $3.99 a month to access their product online.
The MSM isn’t what it used to be. Circulation and revenue have dramatically fallen and staff cuts — almost a third what it once was at the LA Times — have taken their toll in talent as well as numbers.
The advent of television wiped out half the newspapers in the country, replacing a competitive independently-owned industry with highly profitable corporate monopolies.
Now the Internet has wiped out their profitably and what the public is being offered is the soup of the soup of the soup of journalism, thin gruel indeed.
So the question is: At this late date, will charging $3.99 a month for the LA Times online really make a difference to the bottom line or accelerate the decline by turning off readers and reducing traffic?