"It seems long past time for reputable news sites to clamp down on the gutter talk."
That is James Rainey, the "On the Media" critic at the Los Angeles Times, fretting in an article today (Sun., 2/27/11) about the tone of readers' comments that are posted on news web sites.
If Rainey wants to "clamp down on the gutter talk" by readers, he needs to take a closer look at his own employer's site, latimes.com.
Less than 48 hours ago, one of Rainey’s colleagues, columnist Tim Rutten, published an article about the outgoing archbishop of Los Angeles, Roger Cardinal Mahony.
Here is a small sampling of some of the comments that readers posted about the Catholic leader. All of them are still publicly viewable (as of this posting).
maximusb30 at 8:54 PM February 26, 2011
Dirtbag Mahony -
You ruined the church and the city of Los Angeles … Go rot somewhere, in a cesspool of your own filth …
EAGDSD at 4:10 AM February 26, 2011
Let's tar and feather this ped-pleaser and run him out of town.
RobertNewrock at 3:51 PM February 26, 2011
Mahoney (sic) and the church are guilty of racketeering, plain and simple, a criminal enterprise … Mahoney (sic) should commit suicide.
dbanks1024 at 3:49 PM February 26, 2011
I hope that this protector of child predators ROTS IN HELL like he so rightly deserves. Its (sic) anybody's guess how many children he may have also sexually preyed upon.
What prompted Rainey's article were comments left in response to the news story about the brutal attack on CBS' Lara Logan. Rainey is troubled that some commenters "sought to mete out their digital revenge by blaming all Muslims for the attack on Logan."
Fair enough. But as we see above, ugly comments are nothing new at the Los Angeles Times.
Where was Rainey a couple of years ago when readers of the Times posted sick and tasteless comments after an article about the death of Fox News Channel reporter and White House spokesperson Tony Snow? LA Times watchdog Patterico authored not one - but two (!) - articles about this awful episode at the paper. (Warning: Read at your own risk. The comments are vile.)
Commenters at latimes.com have recklessly and maliciously attacked conservatives and Catholics with impunity for years.
Yes, readers' comments need to be better regulated and moderated. But it is somewhat disturbing that it took the twisted attacks on Lara Logan for Rainey to finally realize that readers can get inappropriately nasty on the comment board.
-- Dave Pierre is the author of the book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. Dave is also the creator of TheMediaReport.com and is a contributing writer to NewsBusters.