'Journalism': LA Times does another dishonest photo manipulation against Larry Elder

What's going on with the Los Angeles Times? 

Was it bad enough that the paper downplayed a racist assault on a leading California gubernatorial candidate, Larry Elder, where a white leftist wearing a gorilla mask hurled an egg at the head of Elder, a black man, expressing a common trope among racists who compare black people to apes? Recall that Roseanne Barr was fired from her popular television show for that one after she compared White House advisor Valerie Jarrett to an ape on Twitter.

Nooo, not at all to these practitioners of "journalism." They had to keep manufacturing the lies and omissions, their latest a pictorial lie that looks like a fresh bid to smear Elder:

It follows from their low-reasoned endorsement for Elder's rival, Gov. Gavin Newsom, their op-ed calling Elder 'the black face of white supremacy', and their latest suggestion that Elder isn't really black. They've also put out what appear to be push-polls against Elder, not quite in line with other polls. While the Times has a generally good record on its polling, according to Five Thirty-Eight, its methodology in the past has been phone polls. This latest Berkeley IGS poll that it paid for, signaling that all is over for Larry, was done by email on registered voters, which, close to election time, isn't as historically useful. The sum message of all these little things is that they have it in for Elder.

Now we move on to the late-day dirty tricks.

In the first photo, they the racist attack on Elder "a hostile reception." By their logic, this comparable picture from Norman Rockwell, painted in 1964, complete with flung tomatoes at a black girl, would also be called "a hostile reception" by the Times, too, rather than what Rockwell called it, which was "The Problem We All Live With." To the Los Angeles Times, Elder, not the racist leftist who committed the actual assault, was the problem, with Elder's ideas just naturally drawing "a hostile reception," even as the ape mask goes unaddressed.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff certainly thinks it's a problem. And so does the LAPD, which is investigating the assault as a racist hate crime and looking for the assailant.

Being forced to report the matter or else look like utter newsroom losers who are out of the loop, the Times then cooked up a photo manipulation to go with its headline, which is where the second photo came up:

 Notice how it called the matter an "altercation" rather than an unprovoked assault, suggesting that Elder was somehow involved in the matter as if it were a he-said, she-said event, and boys will be boys. Fact is, Elder was assaulted, an aide was punched, and the entourage was hustled out of that area without retaliation. That's no altercation, that's an unprovoked attack.

Then it gets worse: Notice how the photo, positioned under the misleading headline, has a carefully chosen frame making it appear as though Elder was slapping the woman. He was in fact embracing her as a supporter, but a casual headline-reader, which the LA Times knows most readers are likely to be, would think that Elder was the one who launched some kind of assault.

How many frames did they have to go through in an automatically clicking photographer's camera, or else photographer's video, to come up with that one? The photo was obviously carefully selected, and someone took quite a bit of time to go through the footage, frame by frame, until he had just the right photo to mislead readers. 

The lady in the picture, whose face was being warmly touched by Elder, and not being slapped, had some choice words about the matter.

Who is she? She's apparently an Elder supporter, not someone she's got into an "altercation" with. Fox News notes that her Twitter account was unverified, which is true as it is of most people, but it's interesting that there's an impressive LinkedIn page with the same unusual name (Basque origin, with a typically Cuban first name, same as Soledad O'Brien), from Venice, California, showing a longtime neighborhood community leader in Venice who has supported the Elder recall in other matters, and it would make it quite likely that she is the same person. She is protesting the use of her image to cast a false light on what was happening as the fallout from the racist hate attack on Elder continued.

In the news industry, under the heading of libel and its four privacy torts, there is a category called 'false light' reporting which is actually actionable. According to the Digital Media Law Center:

False light is one of the four categories of "privacy torts" (the others being misappropriationintrusion, and publication of private facts). While the nature of false light claims vary by state, they generally protect people from offensive and false facts stated about them to the public.

Not all states recognize claims for false light [California does]. In the states that do recognize a cause of action for false light, the specific requirements to raise a claim vary. Accordingly, you should review your individual state section listed at the bottom of this page for specific information about your state.

Generally speaking, a false light claim requires the following:

  1. The defendant published the information widely (i.e., not to just a single person, as in defamation);
  2. the publication identifies the plaintiff;
  3. it places the plaintiff in a "false light" that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person; and
  4. the defendant was at fault in publishing the information.

See Restatement (Second) of Torts § 652E.

It adds:

Some states, including California, hold that unlike defamation, false light concerns untrue implications rather than directly false statements. For instance, an article about sex offenders illustrated with a stock photograph of an individual who is not, in fact, a sex offender could give rise to a false light claim, even if the article and photo caption never make the explicit false statement (i.e., identifying the person in the photo as a sex offender) that would support a defamation claim.

She could have some grounds for a case, although not every condition has been met -- the Times didn't identify her by name even though she's pretty easy to find on LinkedIn and it's pretty likely that the reporters knew who she was, given her prominence as a community leader. One wonders if that omission was intentional as a means of avoiding such a suit. Everything else in that choice of pictures was. Ursua appears to have plenty of money to pay for lawyers so it would be interesting to see if that happens. Already she's filed hate crime charges with another woman, stating that the incident did not make her feel safe. The LA Times, after more than 20 hours of the manipulative photo on its site, has replaced it.

The final question, though, is this:

Why is the Los Angeles Times doing this? Poll after poll is showing that Newsom has the recall in the bag. The Hoover Institution and its formidable scholars, citing various megatrends, think this recall may not make it. While the Los Angeles Times-financed Berkeley IGS poll shows Newsom winning by a very large margin, other polls, including the pretty reliable Trafalgar polls, and others with good reputations, show that Newsom is winning, too. Here is the RealClearPolitics lineup. Dirty tricks are typically done by utterly desperate creatures making a last stand before they go down in flames. We don't see that here. All we see are efforts to take down Elder which revolve around racist attacks. This is strange stuff. Joel Pollak at Breitbart noted that the Los Angeles Times apologized recently for its racist history. All a reader can conclude from this behavior is that when people tell you who they are, believe them. 

Image: Make a Meme / shareable meme, public domain

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