The Life Of O'Reilly

Fox News Channel maven Bill O'Reilly is never shy with opinions, but not always hip to the nuances of the journalism business, to say the least. So last week, he brought on Steve Burgard, director of Northeastern's School of Journalism, to discuss the sudden resignation of Los Angeles Times editor John Carroll. Going on the "Factor" is not for the faint of heart since the often bombastic O'Reilly is a master at controlling the tone and intensity of the discussion. So I asked Burgard to describe his experience on the show as he tried to combat an O'Reilly misconception and here's the email he sent me...

"Bill O'Reilly noticed that a buried element in the John Carroll departure story from the Los Angeles Times was that the editorial pages would now report directly to the publisher. It was an important observation, not featured in news accounts. He decided this was unprecedented and invited me, a former Times editorial board writer and editor, on "The O'Reilly Factor" last Thursday (July 21).

He suggested this was Tribune Co.'s way of pulling the plug on the lefty slant of the opinion pages, by not allowing them to report to the new editor, Dean Baquet. I explained that this story was a sidebar to the main event of Carroll's departure over budget cuts. In my view, while this new reporting arrangement was not uncommon, it was indeed significant for the LA Times, which in recent years has had a report to the top editor, not the publisher. My view: the page has been destabilized by the mismanagement of the transition to the internet under Michael Kinsley, and that a change of top editors provided an opening for Chicago to exercise tighter discipline through its local publisher, and maybe even reposition the page. That might mean that, as happened at the Chicago Tribune in 2004, an endorsement of someone like George W. Bush would not be unthinkable for the LA Times.

Basically, I was saying, "Bill you're warm, but you don't quite have it." O'Reilly challenged me to "name one other newspaper" where this direct report exists. I named both New York Times and Boston Globe as examples. O'Reilly asserted he believed Gail Collins reports to Bill Keller, and would check on it. Today, I sent him this link:" Times

Thanks for that dispatch Steve. It's always tricky when you confuse O'Reilly with the facts. And in a related matter, it looks like Kinsley's days running the opinion pages are numbers.
LA Observed
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