In her syndicated column today (which is not yet up on her website), Susan Estrich comments on Kinsley’s departure. (Estrich and Kinsley are, of course, old friends who recently had a public spat). She argues that Kinsley’s termination is a sign that the LAT is paying more attention to its community:
In Washington, everyone understood my quarrel with Michael as both a personal fight and a fight about gender — the debate was all about why women are lagging, and whether to recognize it and deal with it explicitly.
In Los Angeles, it was completely different. The big issue wasn’t me, and it wasn’t women — it was the Los Angeles Times and its arrogance. They don’t care about anybody, one after another of my callers told me. They don’t think they have to deal with anyone, respect anyone, listen to anyone. They couldn’t care less what anyone in this town thinks. They don’t think they’re of this community, they think they’re above it.
And who were these people calling me? Only the mayor’s top aide. Only the former mayor. Only the leading members of this community, the leading donors to every cause, the people who make this community work, the richest, smartest, most successful people in town, who had been similarly ignored, slimed or stepped on as part of the brilliant content of our award-winning, much-hated and derided local paper, which generally has refused to recognize that it is located here. The whole thing was unbelievably depressing.
No one suggests that the press get in bed with the community, but it should reflect it. The new leadership of the Times seems to have gotten that message. That’s reason to celebrate, not gloat.
By the way, Estrich states that in the past three months, 24 percent of LAT opinion columns have been by women– higher, actually, than the paltry 16 percent at the NYT, and about on par with the numbers Estrich cites for nationally syndicated columns. But still, obviously, low.
Mickey Kaus, another long-time Kinsley buddy, takes a contrasting view:
The hope Kinsley brought to Los Angeles wasn’t that he’d improve the Times. It was that by improving the Times he’d help give L.A. the lively, East-coast style political culture it desperately needs–a culture the city’s stolid monopoly newspaper has suffocated for decades. The idea that Kinsley could do this by leveraging the Times’ unfindable and largely unread editorial pages was always a longshot. But to have any hope of success in a bloated GM-like institution filled with stuffy veteran editors who’d have to lose their current positions (but who have families and mortgages) Kinsley would need solid long-term backing–no, more like actual encouragement–from the top. It’s now obvious he didn’t have this. Pulitzer-addled editor John Carroll vamoosed, for unspecified reasons, over the summer, and incoming publisher Johnson has now made it clear he heeds the voices of Timesenklatura. The most promising strategy for revitalizing Southern California remains the Times’ bankruptcy and disappearance. Johnson is off to a good start in that respect. Go craigslist! …