LAT Blog's Laura Richardson Write-up Omits 'D' Label

Yes, the "Name That Party" exercise is getting old.

But somebody has to do it, or 10-20 years from now we'll have people searching the web and concluding that only Republicans had ethical problems during the 21st Century's first decade.

The latest example of convenient party omission also involves a couple of other items that bear mentioning.

The story concerns the now somewhat well-known Laura Richardson (D-CA). It is at the LA Times's "L.A. Now" blog, in a Monday post by Jesus Sanchez:

Laura Richardson's driving for dollars

She may have defaulted on mortgages and lost a home in foreclosure, but that hasn't stopped Long Beach Rep. Laura Richardson from driving in style and at great expense, courtesy of the taxpayer. The lease on Richardson's 2007 Lincoln Town Car costs about $1,300 a month -- the most expensive lease of any member of the House of Representatives, reports the Daily Breeze. Richardson's monthly lease, paid by the federal government, is much larger than the $400 to $800 a month that other House members pay, according to a taxpayer group.

The underlying Daily Breeze story identified Richardson as a Democrat in its third paragraph, and had other additional tidbits, including these:

A protege of Rep. Maxine Waters - she calls Waters "Big Mama" and herself "Little Mama" - Richardson has worked to cultivate an image of success since arriving in Congress last fall. That effort evidently included a major upgrade of her publicly funded car.

..... Rep. Diane Watson, D-Los Angeles, also leases a 2007 Lincoln Town Car, but she pays only $686 per month for it.

According to a former staff member, Richardson insisted that her Lincoln be specially customized, which may explain the high cost.

Richardson's spokesman, William Marshall, initially stated that Richardson is paying only $940 per month for her Town Car, but gave no documentation of that. After he was presented with the expense report showing the $1,300 lease amount, he declined to answer further questions.

"No comment," he said.

Richardson got the car from a local Enterprise Rent-a-Car office for her use when she needed to travel around her congressional district.

Given that Enterprise is the provider, I'm wondering if the reason for the high cost is that it is really a month-to-month "rental" and not a true "lease" (usually 2, 3, or 4 years through a dealer). Information later in the Daily Breeze story indicates that the police characterized the vehicle as a "rental" when it was in accident while being driven by someone else.

Regardless, there are three points to be made, one obvious, two a bit less so:

  1. The obvious point is that Sanchez's failure to include Richardson's party is journalistic malpractice.
  2. The first less-obvious point is that the financially-strapped, headcount-cutting Times seems to be relying on the Daily Breeze to do its dirty work, and then simply regurgitating it, at an increasing rate.
  3. The second less-obvious point is that the story, especially one so brief (just under 200 words), probably also belonged in the Times's print edition. Based on the results of this search on "Laura Richardson" (in quotes), it didn't make it.

It is worth asking whether this episode in the ongoing Laura Richardson saga is an example of an Old Media outfit using its blogs to minimize exposure of certain stories harmful to politicians it favors. Does anyone thing that a story about an LA-area Republican with a similar opulent lease would have stayed out of the Times's print edition?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.