Today’s Los Angeles Times brings us Xeni Jardin a remarkable serious journalist and contributor to the blog BoingBoing.
She comments on the efforts of Internet giants such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Google, and Nortel to become even bigger businesses in their quest to gain a large share of the Chinese mainland Internet market, and their claims of First Amendment rights of Freedom of the Press, and their tendency to see war news as a form of entertainment.
What they conveniently forget, she points out, is the impact that can have in a country that practices the opposite, if care is not taken. China frowns upon their home-based bloggers divulging state secrets abroad.
Yahoo published a report about an upcoming Tiananmen Square massacre put out by a Chinese resident reporter who published under a pseudonym, but whose secrecy is now irrelevant. Shi Tao is his name, and he has a family. Obviously, there was great risk to his personal safety.
China asked Yahoo officials at their Hong Kong based agency to identify the source. No problem, they did so, and now this reporter is serving a ten year jail sentence for “divulging state secrets abroad”.
Yes, war, hot or cold, is serious business. So much for the Shield Law we hear a lot about these days in Washington and at the New York Times.
Which brings me to the L.A. Times front page news reporting in the very same edition, on the war in Iraq, where the headline cries “[A] Central Pillar of Iraq Policy is Crumbling”.
The pillar here being, according to them, that Bush and the rest of the West’s argument that Iraq, under its new Constitution and with a new government in place, will be able to take over and control the running of their country. A fallacy and not so, say the contributors to this report.
My eyes opened wide and my jaw dropped when I saw the name of the news reporter assigned to The Times’ Baghdad office. None other than their precious piece of immigrant Danish pastry, the ambitious blonde Louise Roug, who was assigned to cover my divorce trial on a daily basis, whom I filled in about the true situation over lunch – see my sidebar “What’s a Pro se to do?” – and practiced her art of biased gossip, possibly under orders from the Entertainments Editor above, and refused to report on it objectively.
Here’s how she opened her report:
Sunday, April 4, 2001
Home Edition
Section: Southern California Living
Actress Lynn Redgrave was on the witness stand in Los Angeles, hating every minute of it. She was being questioned by her ex-husband in one of the nastiest Hollywood divorce trials in years. John Clark, acting as his own attorney, drew close to show her a document. Redgrave flinched. “Please, I would rather he didn’t,” she implored the judge.
“I understand that sparks fly between you and Mr. Clark,” Superior Court Judge Arnold Gold told her. “Just grit your teeth and answer his questions.”
Clark finally had his moment: “This is my big question. What happened to your attitude towards me?”
Redgrave, her clipped English voice dripping with indignation and disbelief, replied, “Not only did I discover you had fathered a child with someone I had considered my friend, you had planned it. . . . You said I was unattractive.”
Although the trial is about the mundane–the division of money, property and possessions, it’s also about something much more dramatic: the private betrayal and public humiliation of the daughter of a famous acting dynasty by a man who doesn’t feel he’s wronged her.
In court, Redgrave was demure and wore black. Clark was rumpled, often removing his jacket and complaining of the heat. Outside court, Clark explained that impregnating the friend–who later became the family’s secretary–was “an act of kindness on my part.” She was depressed, he said, and a child would “take her mind off herself.”

Times staff writers Louise Roug and Gina Piccalo contributed to this column.
All I can say here at this point in disbelief is that the shameless editors of the Los Angeles Times feel it is appropriate to place a shallow and one of their least trustworthy entertainment editors to report from this hotspot of human conflict, where people actually die for their beliefs. Readers expect spin-free fair comment.
And if Bush Bashing is their goal, better to use real, serious, and believable journalists.