The Los Angeles Times is an embarrassment, an insult to lifelong Angelenos and people like me who have put down roots in the City of Angels. To be clear, the Times technically isn’t a Los Angeles publication because it is headquartered in El Segundo, an industrial city abutting LAX that I liken to the northern New Jersey of Southern California. I sense the newsroom of the Times is chock full of East Coast transplants who regard the publication as a weigh station to the New York Times or Washington Post.
In March of last year, I published this post headlined, “Why the L.A. Times Deserves to Fail.” Sadly, the publication has deteriorated further since then, despite the onboarding of Kevin Merida, yet another hotshot editor lured from the East Coast. Hiring editors with no ties to Los Angeles is the reason why the Times, once decidedly among the best local publications in North America, has become the local embarrassment it is today. Norm Pearlstine, Merida’s predecessor, commuted from New York City.
An example of The Times’ lightweight journalism is this story the publication posted Saturday about Karen Bass, a California Democratic Congresswoman running for mayor and frighteningly is leading in the polls. The Times reported that Bass returned home Friday night “to find signs of a break-in” and called police. Bass claimed that the thief left behind cash, electronics, and other valuables. L.A.’s finest in less than 24 hours fingered a suspect, who was described as Hispanic, standing 5 feet 9 inches, and weighing 200 pounds.
Bass’ story doesn’t ring right, and even if it’s credible, it’s alarming that an aspiring mayor of Los Angeles kept a stash of guns in her home. I’ve previously wrestled with buying a gun for home protection, but decided against it after learning about the meaningful risks. Bass’ claims beg many questions, but despite assigning three reporters to the story, the Times didn’t address any of them.
For starters, how many guns did Bass own and what kind were they? It’s a legitimate question relating to how the firearms were stored. Bass’ communication director Sarah Leonard Sheahan said the guns were secured in a Brinks lock box.
It’s comical that Bass claimed her guns were “safely and securely stored” when in fact they were stolen. The Times didn’t address whether the guns were removed from the lock box or whether the thief took off with the device. Brinks lock boxes apparently aren’t all that secure; here’s a YouTube video from 2015 ostensibly showing how easy it is to pick the locks.
The Times also didn’t address whether the lock box itself was secured to anything. Here’s a YouTube video by Jarrod Needs, listed as the lead instructor of Trigger Time Ohio, an organization offering firearms training focused on defensive use, explaining how it’s possible to secure a lock box with a gun even in a vehicle. Presumably, there are even easier ways to secure a lock box in a home.
In the video, Needs admonishes: “Of all the rules for gun safety, after the rules of safe gun safety where we are actually physically touching the firearm, securing your firearm so that it’s inaccessible to unauthorized access is the most important.”
What also strikes me as unusual is Bass’ claim the thief left behind cash and other valuables. I’ve gained some expertise about break ins, having had my home damaged twice by thieves. What I’ve learned from the LAPD is that house thieves typically do their business within seven minutes as they know that it will take the police at least that long to respond to a crime in progress.
In my most recent break in when thieves smashed a side bedroom window to gain access, they opened drawers in my living room and then made their way to my bedroom where they took a pillowcase and loaded almost everything from my bedroom dresser, including two bags with sets of leather boxes and straps known as tefillin used for Jewish morning religious services. I suspect the thieves didn’t covet the religious items but didn’t want to waste time checking out what was in the bags.
The thieves didn’t take my iPad or my MacPro; the LAPD said that’s because the items can easily be traced.
I say thieves because my video cameras caught my initial intruders and there were three of them, their faces covered by the hoodies they were wearing. Based on my discussions with the investigating police officers, I assumed most break ins involved multiple persons, but I’m possibly mistaken.
Regardless, it’s a wonder why the LAPD posted a photo of Bass’ suspected intruder. Even if they catch him, he’ll likely be back on the streets within hours of his arrest. If the value of Bass’ guns didn’t exceed $950, the intruder will be charged with a misdemeanor, which is no biggie in California. Most firearms today cost between $400 and $800.
I’d welcome knowing why Bass owned multiple guns, particularly since Democrats are supposedly all gung-ho about gun control and confiscation. The Times didn’t mention Bass’ positions on gun control; Bass’ website said that last year she voted for “lifesaving, commonsense gun violence prevention bills” requiring background checks on all gun sales.
In 1983, when the Times was still a credible newspaper, it reported that Bass said an LAPD officer trained her how to use a gun in the late 1970s when she was a California organizer for the Vencermos Brigade, a group founded by young Americans to show solidarity with the Cuban revolution. Bass said the officer “encouraged many different folks who had leadership responsibilities in the L.A. progressive community to learn how to use weapons.”
I’d possibly be more charitable towards Bass if the Times hadn’t reported last week that a $95,000 social work scholarship University of Southern California gave Bass in 2011 without her even applying was “critical” to federal prosecutors in their investigation of alleged corruption within the controversial university’s social work program. USC is in Bass’ Congressional district.
Marilyn Flynn, the former dean of USC’s social work program, and former L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, have both been indicted on bribery and fraud charges related to a scholarship like the one awarded to Bass. The Times did a poor job explaining why the feds haven’t also targeted Bass, who remains defiant about the propriety of her scholarship.
“Everybody knows that the welfare of children and families has been a passion and policy focus of mine for decades,” Bass told the Times. “The only reason I studied nights and weekends for a master’s degree was to become a better advocate for children and families – period.”
Using that justification, GM and Ford CEOs Mary Barra and Jim Farley should have comped the Democrats who supported the Inflation Reduction Act electric vehicles so they can become better advocates for the generous subsidies Congress gave to help the automakers sell their EVs and mitigate climate change – period.
Bass is a professional politician, having served six terms in Congress and prior to that served in the California State Assembly. In my mind, there is nothing in her background that suggests she can solve L.A.’s out of control crime and homeless problems, particularly if she can’t even properly secure her questionable firearms.
It should come as no surprise that the L.A. Times endorsed Bass for mayor. The only opinion I’d value from the Times is a good place to hang out in El Segundo the next time I’m killing time waiting to pick someone up at LAX.