In one of its many books of guidelines, the Los Angeles Times instructs employees to write so that a reader "cannot detect" the political views of the reporter. If there's any place where you'd expect this iron-age rule to be followed, it's in an A1, top-right-column story, which is traditionally considered the leading news story of the day.
So it's not Shane Goldmacher's opinion, just straight news, that the lame-duck governor of California is sending a "gubernatorial ransom note" and "holding the state hostage" in his budget negotiations, thus repeating a "shameful chapter in California's history" and alienating cooperative Democrats with his "ultimatums." It is furthermore objectively true that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing this not just from an honest desire to fix Sacramento's chronic budgeting problems but out of personal pique, that he is trying to retrofit a "fiscal system that has bedeviled California -- and him -- for years."
And when Goldmacher looks down on the former Mr. Olympia's shriveled, sysiphean form, it's just, you know, Crom laughing at your four winds. Here's the lede:
With fewer than 140 days left in office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is making a final stand for goals that have eluded him for nearly seven years, clinging to an overdue state budget for a last bit of leverage before he fades from relevancy.
It goes on from there, and while some public comments from the governor are included, first-sourcing is given over to such flyblown warhorses as state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco).
Speaking of forgettable faces, Goldmacher is so churlish he even tries to hit Schwarzenegger in his Q rating. In Goldmacher's fanciful telling, "the showdown between fellow Republican Meg Whitman and Democratic state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown" is "increasingly sucking up the political oxygen in Sacramento, much as Schwarzenegger's celebrity did in his first years in office."
Hey, all you folks out there in Televisionland. To the extent that you can even fake an interest in California politics, who do you think is most likely to hold your attention: Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, or Arnold Schwarzenegger? Put it another way: It's Friday night and your only options at the triplex are Jerry in the Hollywood remake of Monsieur Hire, Meg in an arthouse Annie Oakley biopic, or Arnold as the first male grandmother in Junior, Is That You? Which one might actually entertain you?
If there's a news story here, it is about how little oxygen the Meg and Jerry show has sucked up, and how much CO2 it has generated. As Goldmacher's colleague Anthony York explains, Whitman had to purchase six tables for her own fundraiser at the Hyatt Manchester Ballroom Friday night. And she's doing better than Brown.
Is Schwarzenegger so evil he would actually beggar widows and orphans? He is! Back to Goldmacher:
Schwarzenegger wants more cuts: elimination of California's welfare program and daycare for 142,000 children of low-income families, further paring of education funds and deep cuts in money for home health aides to help the elderly, blind and disabled.
Fair balance: The LAT did give Schwarzenegger space for an op-ed recently. But that was officially labeled as opinion.