@THE GUSS REPORT-The best way to read the LA Times for the past few decades is to do so with an open and fair mind, and then read between the lines to figure out its lies by omission.
Take for example its piece last week on LA politicians finally distancing themselves from their cash- and girl-grabbing colleague LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar.
In it, Times’ reporters David Zahniser, Dakota Smith and Emily Alpert Reyes, forever chummy with and protective of LA politicians, reported that the latest federal plea deal tied to City Hall corruption further exposes Huizar as ringleader of LA political graft such that some of his peers vacillate between calling for his suspension from Council meetings to calling for his immediate resignation.
Before we dig in, let’s point out that these same politicians silently sat as costly sexual harassment lawsuits and other misconduct allegations were leveled against Huizar in recent years. And they sat silently as LA Mayor Eric Garcetti kept appointing Huizar’s wife, Richelle Rios Huizar, to Commissions where she showed up late and left early if she ever appeared at all.
In other words, the City Hall clucks did nothing about Huizar’s abuses until they reached full blast: investigations by the FBI and prosecutions by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
So the Times’ reporters told of some Councilmembers, like Bob Blumenfield and Paul Krekorian, leaning toward demanding Huizar resign (even though he has not yet been arrested or charged with a crime) and others, like City Council president Nury Martinez and Garcetti, who say Huizar should stay away “until there is legal clarity” on Huizar’s latest legal troubles.
So what was missing from the Times’ coverage? Who is the Big Kahuna that the Times’ didn’t mention--whether or not he wished to answer questions? Who was the politician who saved Huizar’s career when the comparatively quaint trouble Huizar was in was humping and haranguing the office help?
Who is the guy who referred to Huizar as “my best friend?”
That would be former LA City Council president Herb Wesson. Oh – pardon me. The guy who they now refer to as LA City Council president - Emeritus! - Herb Wesson, who faces a difficult runoff later this year against California State Senator Holly Mitchell to become the next LA County Supervisor of District 2.
Why didn’t the LA Times ask Wesson about whether he felt Huizar should resign or at least stay away from the City Council until he leaves office, whether due to term limits or handcuffs?
Or did the Times’ reporters ask Wesson those questions and get no response? Because if that was the case, then that should be reported, too.
Perhaps the Times didn’t include Wesson in this story because of its ongoing hesitancy to report proactively on his controversies. Some sort of guilt complex. Or perhaps it is because while Wesson embraced Huizar despite his abuses of women, Mitchell was named vice chair of the Joint Legislative Subcommittee on Sexual Harassment Prevention and Response. Whatever the case, it is a glaring omission in the story. It is a lie by omission.
Of course, you ask the guy who until very recently wielded the most power in LA politics; the guy who is Huizar’s best friend. In failing to do so, the LA Times functions as a public relations agency and other local media parrot what it promotes. It doesn’t do what LA, SoCal and California need: probe and tell the unvarnished story.
Yet, Wesson loomed unnamed in the Times’ story. “(Huizar) was stripped of many committee assignments shortly after the raids, including the powerful panel that vets real estate developments.”
Wesson, then LA City Council president, did that stripping.
So why not ask him now where he stands on Huizar now?
The Times piece mentions FBI investigations into Martinez’s campaign fundraising and its recent raid of LA City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office. But not a single mention of Wesson, who has long been established as a grifter, repeatedly defaulting on his mortgages; defaulting on his credit cards and ignoring court judgments; using taxpayer money to vindictively silence critics; getting his kids lucrative jobs not only in his office but in other Councilmember offices too; getting one adult kid of his dubious breaks on his apartment rent as homelessness skyrocketed for the rest of LA; misusing LAPD resources for another adult kid’s wedding; and wrangling a quarter-million-dollar gig at the AQMD for his wife, Fabian Wesson, despite her lying about her education as she replaced someone with a Ph.D.
Speaking of sitting silently, LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino and LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger sit on the AQMD’s Governing Board but refuse to field this column’s questions about Wesson’s wife’s gig.
The Times won’t report on that, either. So I call B.S. on all of it.
(Daniel Guss, MBA, is a member of the Los Angeles Press Club, and has contributed to CityWatchLA, KFI AM-640, iHeartMedia, 790-KABC, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Magazine, Movieline Magazine, Emmy Magazine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Pasadena Star News, Los Angeles Downtown News, and the Los Angeles Times in its Sports, Opinion and Entertainment sections and Sunday Magazine, among other publishers. Follow him on Twitter @TheGussReport. His opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.