The harm wrecked upon victims of sexual abuse is real and damaging. That is not an excuse, however, for reckless, false, and misleading reporting about Catholic Church officials. Take the egregiously wobbly op-ed from Monday's Los Angeles Times, "O.C.'s wayward bishop" (10/1/07). (For those of you outside California and unfamiliar with the TV show a couple of years back, "O.C." stands for Orange County.)
Contributing editor Gustavo Arellano goes after Bishop Tod Brown of the Diocese of Orange in California. Arellano perceives a lack of openness by Brown in reporting about sexual abuse in the diocese. But Arellano's premise falls completely flat in light of a flagrant disregard for honest facts and fairness.
On Tuesday (5/29/07), we published this post. We wrote how a recent book review in the Los Angeles Times didn't bother to disclose that the author of the reviewed book, Gustavo Arellano, happens to be a contributing editor to the Times.
This morning I opened the Times to find this on page A2:
For the Record May 31, 2007
Mexican book: A review in Friday's Calendar section of Gustavo Arellano's book "¡Ask a Mexican!," a compilation of his columns by the same name for OC Weekly, should have added that Arellano is also a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times' Opinion page.
Well! I guess the Times's "Readers' Representative" received my e-mail and read our article!
Kudos to the Times for acknowledging their lack of proper disclosure.
Gustavo Arellano got a book review in the Los Angeles Times that every writer dreams of. With glowing prose they dubbed his book ¡Ask a Mexican! as "hilarious and testy," "insightful," and "witty and fearless." "Arellano ... offer[s] much-needed common sense," added the Times. A nice color photo of Arellano accompanies the review. (See an image of the article here.) Sounds great, doesn't it?
So ... What's the problem? Nowhere in the review does the paper bother to disclose that Arellano is a contributing editor to the Times. For the paper he has penned no less than ten columns in the last 11 months, including a book review that was published only a couple of weeks ago.
In other words, Arellano had about as much chance of receiving a negative review as it snowing in Santa Monica this week.