The Los Angeles Times is moving Tim Rutten from the Calendar section to the Op-Ed pages beginning in the new year. This is a promotion that is long overdue for one of the paper’s best columnists. While I’ve had a disagreement of two with Rutten, he is the most consistently honest and insightful writer the paper employs – particularly since they traded the brilliant Robert Scheer for the brain-dead Jonah Goldberg.
Rutten is unafraid of taking on the powerful, even if that means his own bosses. His last “Regarding Media” column for Calendar is a good example of this. While he has a much more optimistic view of the Times’ future under new owner Sam Zell than I do, he is also unambiguous in his contempt for corporate media:
“The era of corporate accumulation has been an unmitigated disaster for American journalism. Money has flowed like a fiscal Mississippi into the pockets of investors and fund managers, draining one newspaper and TV station after another of the resources necessary to serve their communities’ common good.”
There are a couple of unanswered questions surrounding Rutten’s promotion. Is some other progressive opinion columnist being let go to make room for Rutten’s op-eds? Will a less courageous writer, or a worse, a Big Media apologist, replace Rutten as author of “Regarding Media”? Time will tell. But all in all, I will be looking forward to Rutten’s work in the section of the paper where it really belongs. Two years ago I wrote an article praising Rutten’s criticism of a speech by Dick Cheney. I closed by noting the difference between Rutten’s substantive analysis and the relative intellectual vacancy of the Times’ Opinion writers:
“Perhaps I should turn first to the Calendar for insight into the news, then pick up the opinion pages for entertainment, where their newest columnist, Jonah Goldberg, is best known for his fiction.”
Beginning next year, it may be safe to read the Opinion section again.
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