Media Blog

The LA Times and Dunphy

Patterico has written a long post about LAPD officer and NRO columnist Jack Dunphy. Dunphy, who writes under a pseudonym, has published op-eds in the LA Times before, but suddenly the Times stopped accepting his submissions on the grounds that it doesn’t publish op-eds by authors using pseudonyms. Patterico called up the LA Times brass and reports:

I wrote Editorial Page Editor Andrés Martinez and Op-Ed and Current Editor Nick Goldberg, and asked them what was up. Nick Goldberg — whom I have met before and who strikes me as a very decent guy — was kind enough to speak with me about this yesterday.
Goldberg said: “We have not banned [Dunphy] from the paper.” He said, however, that he wants to be very careful about publishing pieces written under pseudonyms. It is not something that should be done lightly or often, he said, and any exceptions should be rare. The op-ed page may run pieces under a pseudonym if the subject is very important, if they can’t get a similar piece from an author using his or her own name, and if there is a good reason to protect the author’s identity.
Under the principles Goldberg articulated to me, it seems like a no-brainer that The Times should continue to publish pieces by Jack Dunphy. The LAPD is a very important topic in this city. I am not familiar with any other officer who comes close to Dunphy in his ability to articulate the views of the rank and file in highly readable and entertaining prose. And, given his history of criticizing Bratton, there is ample reason to protect Dunphy’s identity. In my opinion, applying Goldberg’s own criteria, Dunphy should continue to be published.

First, as Patterico points out, it’s not like Dunphy is an unknown entity. He’s published dozens of pieces for NRO and several pieces for the LA Times.  He’s disclosed where he works and what he does. To free himself to write openly about the LAPD and presumably to ensure his physical safety, he’s adopted a pseudonym. I think under these circumstances, the LA Times could make an exception.
Furthermore, the LA Times news pages frequently cite anonymous sources — it was one of the papers that exposed the SWIFT bank data program — about whom we know little and of whose motives we know nothing. It seems strange that the Times would apply a stricter standard to the opinion pages than to news.
I hope the LA Times sees the error in its reasoning, but if not, oh well. More Dunphy for NRO.

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