Which is it, the Los Angeles Times or the Babylon Bee? After reading the Southern California newspaper of Records’ endorsement of L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon – a man now nationally known for his “Criminals First’ policies in the City of Angels – I asked myself this question.
He has kept his word and is he delivering on it, despite the intense and dishonest criticism from right-wing politicians, pundits, and those in his office.
The rest of their sentence is a complete sham. They are correct to say that Gascon is doing what he said despite the intense backlash and they may even be correct that he does it “well”. The backlash does not come from only right-wing politicians or pundits.
Los Angeles Times, owned by billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong five years ago, has been losing $30-50 million per year. Even in Los Angeles, where the population is liberal, people can tell when they are being misled, when they read incomplete reporting, or when someone is talking down to them.
The L.A. Times has seen a massive drop in mobile and digital traffic over the past year. Comparing this to other outlets such as the Washington Post or the New York Times, it puts the decline into perspective. When you lose readers, it’s harder to attract advertisers. A 38 percent drop in digital traffic is not good for a publication that primarily serves subscribers.
Well, that’s not good. Traffic to news sites in November, per ComScore. pic.twitter.com/yzCcDPAKVF
— Paul Farhi (@farhip) December 19, 2023
Our traffic is also in the same universe as the Los Angeles Times despite only having a fraction of their resources (equipment and writers).
The Times, which has been leaning left for decades now, has shifted further to the left ever since Soon-Shiong bought the paper. Nika, his activist daughter, is a major force in socialist politics and loudly expresses her views. Nika’s interference with the editorial process is attributed to a recent wave of resignations by senior editors, although both father and daughter deny that she has any say.
It’s hard to believe, however, that Nika soon-Shiong isn’t behind this endorsement for George Gascon’s re-election. The article even calls Jeff Chemerinsky, the son of “justice reform scholar” Erwin Chemerinsky, a reformer who lacks reform, a reformer. Incredibly, the Times editorial board believes that telling Angelenos not to believe their own experience and eyes when it comes to the increase in crime and prosecuting policies to believe the Times about Gascon’s record will lead to success. They write:
Falsehoods are spread about his policies and the apocalyptic Los Angeles that has been supposedly created by them. Voters who supported him three-and-a-half years ago may even have forgotten their reasons for doing so.
The editorial board then becomes Gascon’s communications team and lies about Gascon’s policies.
Gascon’s policy is to seek the best possible sentence, not the longest. Gascon’s smart strategy was so different from previous, failed strategies, that the MAGA-right quickly distorted it to create the false narrative that Gascon does not prosecute misdemeanors and avoids felony prosecutions.
The fairy tale has become so ingrained that his opponents have repeated it in the past on campaign trails, including former Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Hochman. Nathan Hochman told the Times editorial council about it. He couldn’t provide evidence when asked, because such a policy doesn’t exist.
It’s embarrassing. Gascon, as we reported in December 2020, issued several Special Directives on his first day of office, one of which was on misdemeanors. The policy says that “exceptions” and “factors to consider” could allow for these misdemeanors to be prosecuted. However, some of them do not have exceptions or consideration factors listed.
Certain misdemeanors are to be “declined or dismissed before arraignment and without conditions unless ‘exceptions’ or ‘factors for consideration’ exist,” including:
- Trespass – Penal Code § 602(a)-(y)
- Disturbing The Peace – Penal Code § 415(1)-(3)
- Driving Without A Valid License – Vehicle Code § 12500(a)-(e)
- Driving On A Suspended License – Vehicle Code § 14601.1(a)
- Criminal Threats – Penal Code § 422Drug & Paraphernalia Possession – Health & Safety Code §§ 11350, 11357, 11364, & 11377
- Minor in Possession of Alcohol – Business & Professions § 25662(a)
- Drinking in Public – Los Angeles County Municipal Code §13.18.010
- Under the Influence of Controlled Substance – Health & Safety Code § 11550
- Public Intoxication – Penal Code § 647(f)
- Loitering – Penal Code § 647(b),(c), (d), (e)
- Loitering To Commit Prostitution – Penal Code § 653.22(a)(1)
- Resisting Arrest – Penal Code § 148(a)
These are all quality-of-life offenses. Gascon’s policies are responsible for the ravages we see in Los Angeles: people stumbling around intoxicated and shouting threats. They also cause trespassing, disturbances of the peace, prostitution, and drug-addicted homeless setting up camps in public places. Gascon’s policies have resulted in people not being prosecuted for low-level crimes. They also don’t build up a record that judges can use when they commit more serious crimes.
Gascon, as noted in the endorsement, was a district attorney in San Francisco before returning home to Los Angeles. They give Gascon props for his “experience”, which he gained when Kamala was elected Attorney-General, and not because he had earned it. However, they do not mention that he never tried a single case in front of a jury. Ever.
Gascon is the only Los Angeles County District Attorney in the past century and possibly ever to have taken the job having learned the ropes at a similar post in another county. Gascon is a system expert. Other prosecutors might know the courtroom, but Gascon knows it.
Oh yeah, he never was a deputy district attorney. Gavin Newsom appointed him to the post of chief of the San Francisco Police Department. The Times conveniently leaves out all of this in its account of Gascon’s career.
Gascon, a former LAPD officer, rose through the ranks under William Bratton to become assistant chief. He became chief of police for Mesa, Ariz. a conservative town adjacent to Phoenix, and Arizona’s 3rd most populous municipality. He then became the chief of the San Francisco Police Department and later the San Francisco district attorney.
According to the editorial board of the LA Times, police officers are bad, except if they reform justice.
The Times editorial board did not want to tell the public, for some reason, that Gascon publicly boasted about starting the Progressive Prosecutor Project in early 2010 with George Soros and that he even convinced him to pledge a $50,000,000 seed donation to get the project started.
“We started looking at a map of the US, trying to identify strategically, what are the urban centers…one of the convos was, how do we go about creating a movement here? Which led to Open Societies Foundation, George Soros’ foundation, putting $50M in 2014 thru ACLU to begin it” pic.twitter.com/J6NyXg89cN
— Jennifer Van Laar (@jenvanlaar) August 4, 2022
Why is that? This is a great example of leadership, and it should be commended.
It’s not because Gascon was a public servant, but rather that he is an activist. This shows that Gascon’s interest is not in protecting Los Angeles County residents and making sure that those who break the laws are prosecuted appropriately, but rather in “getting the work done.”
The Los Angeles Times editorial board has shown that it is not interested in holding powerful people accountable, giving voice to those who are voiceless, or sharing “lived experience.” It’s because of this that they are losing money and their newsroom has been gutted. The paper was forced by the government to publish a report on Tuesday’s layoffs.
This move is in response to the projections of another year of heavy loss for the newspaper.
Owner Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong said that the cuts were needed because the paper couldn’t continue to lose $30 to $40 million per year without progressing in building a larger readership, which would generate advertising and subscriptions, to sustain the organization.
He said that drastic changes were required, including the appointment of new leaders to focus on improving journalism and making it more valuable to readers.
It’s not good journalism to write what you think your readers will want to read. But it’s not also good to try to ignore their experiences. The goal of good journalism is to tell the truth even if that truth may not be pretty or what we would like to hear.