Jewish Journal


July 30, 2008

Fake L.A. Times: Polygamists pen TV deal


This is Not the Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Times has already become a parody of itself, but in case you hadn’t gotten the joke, check out Roy Rivenburg’s new faux-news site, Fake L.A. Times.

The site reports that San Diego has been sold to ease the state budget woes, that the Times has fired the rest of the staff, though Steve Lopez remains amused with his own superior columnizing (he is good) and that Texas’ real-life Big Love Mormons have penned a deal with HBO, tentatively called “Sect and the City” Rivenburg also reports that social conservatives were right: Allowing gays to marry did indeed open the floodgates, and the courts since determined Paris Hilton and a dolphin could wed.

The site also includes a handful of blogs, including one from Crazy Lee Abrams, who looks strikingly like Borat. I don’t think the site is much of a money maker—that’s not really satire—but there are ads promoting “iCoffin” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Cathedral.” And, also like the real Times, there is an apology to P. Diddy:

Oops, they did it again. For the second time this year, the Los Angeles Times has retracted a story that connected hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs to a high-profile shooting.

In April, the newspaper apologized for hinting that Combs ordered an attack on rap artist Tupac Shakur in 1994. The mea culpa was issued after TheSmokingGun.com pointed out that a key document in the article should have been spotted as a hoax.

Now, the newspaper is backtracking again, this time on its claim that Combs met with Lee Harvey Oswald two hours before President John F. Kennedy was gunned down in 1963. The Times based its story on data retrieved from Oswald’s PalmPilot.

After The Smoking Gun pointed out that PalmPilots weren’t invented until the 1990s – and that, technically speaking, Combs wasn’t alive in 1963 – the Times launched an internal investigation. Two days later, the paper retracted the article.

Rivenburg, who spent 15 years at the Times and got out before things got really, really, really bad, either isn’t suffering from survivor guilt or does a good job appearing otherwise. He is, however, a very funny guy and remains the author of one very memorable and controversial profile disputing the incredible tales of speech-coach-to-the-stars Michel Thomas.

In other L.A. Times news, Sam Zell, the newish owner of the parent Tribune Co., isn’t denying that the LA Times is in hell. He tells BusinessWeek, which like the Times now piles up by my front door: “It will continue to be the deal from hell until we turn it around.”

To be clear, Zell’s idea of “turning it around” has thus far proven unpalatable to concerned Angelenos.

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