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L.A. editor blasts pro-abortion article that proved "our critics right"

Issue: "Tyranny of the minority," June 7, 2003

A Los Angeles Times internal memorandum last week triggered a wave of surprise that pinballed through the paper's newsroom, bounced off an Internet blog site, and rolled all the way to the East Coast. The memo, written by Times editor John Carroll to the newspaper's section editors, blasted a front-page Times story for its blatantly pro-abortion bias.

"I'm concerned about the perception-and the occasional reality-that the Times is a liberal, 'politically correct' newspaper," Mr. Carroll wrote in a memo a Times spokesman confirmed as authentic. "Generally speaking, this is an inaccurate view, but occasionally we prove our critics right. We did so today with the front-page story on the bill in Texas that would require abortion doctors to counsel patients that they may be risking breast cancer."

The weblog laobserved.com last week posted Mr. Carroll's entire May 22 memo, saying the missive had "third floor editors ... buzzing" at the paper. It was unclear how laobserved.com obtained the memo, but Kevin Roderick, a former Times senior editor, runs the site.

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Houston-based Times correspondent Scott Gold wrote the offending story, which touched on the broad requirements of a Texas pre-abortion counseling bill, but zoomed in the bill's proviso that abortionists tell patients about the research linking abortion and breast cancer. As Mr. Carroll's memo pointed out, the "apparent bias of the writer and/or the desk reveals itself" in Mr. Gold's use of such phrases as the "so-called counseling of patients."

"I don't think people on the anti-abortion side would consider it 'so-called,' a phrase that is loaded with derision," Mr. Carroll wrote. The Times chief also noted that Mr. Gold took a cheap shot at one pro-life source, and quoted many sources who slammed the abortion-breast cancer (ABC) link, but failed to quote any opposing scientific views.

Joel Brind, a City University of New York professor and ABC researcher, said 13 of 16 studies on post-abortive American women show increased breast-cancer risk; eight are "statistically significant." He told WORLD that groups like the National Cancer Institute say there is no ABC link, but cite flawed studies to support that view.

Times PR man David Garcia told WORLD that laobserved.com's characterization of reaction at the paper was mere "editorializing." But one Times reporter told WORLD that "people here are talking about it." The reporter said he and two colleagues agreed that the Gold story was politically biased, and applauded Mr. Carroll's strong stand. "We may happen to live in a political atmosphere that is suffused with liberal values (and is unreflective of the nation as a whole)," the editor wrote, "but we are not going to push a liberal agenda in the news pages of the Times."

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