Not Too Long Ago, the LA Times Lavished Praise on Don Sterling

May 3rd, 2014 1:20 PM

And so, what many suspected is documented.

The liberals of Los Angeles loved Donald Sterling. So much so that the liberal Los Angeles Times – acknowledging the paper knew of stories alleging Sterling was a bigot – headlined and sub-headlined a loving profile of Sterling on January 3, 2010 by reporter Sandy Banks this way:

Donald Sterling is generous, impolitic and eager to be liked

The Clippers owner has one of the largest real estate empires in Southern California, gives money to charitable causes and has been accused for years of being a bigot.

And oh so much money to liberal causes did Donald Sterling give. The Los Angeles Times was thrilled. Reported Ms. Banks:

I walked into the penthouse reception prepared to skewer Donald Sterling. But I had barely gotten through the door when I wound up in a group hug with the Clippers' owner and the NBA's top draft pick, heartthrob Blake Griffin.

Sterling might be a tight-fisted egomaniac, but he's also smart enough to know that it's hard to savage a man in print when he introduces you to the crowd as the "beautiful, fabulous writer for the Los Angeles Times. Here to make life better for underprivileged kids."

That's not exactly why I was at the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation Summit, held Tuesday at his Sterling World Plaza in Beverly Hills.

You can't flip through our newspaper these days without spotting the giant ads Sterling buys promoting his awards and donations, his smiling face plastered among a jumble of names and cut-and-paste photos.

I wangled an invitation because I wanted to meet him. I was curious about the man -- and the motives -- behind the generosity. Sterling has been dogged for years by claims that he's a bigot. Was this simple image repair or true redemption, I wondered.

Banks spends a nanosecond noting that Sterling had previously had problems with a:

housing discrimination lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department for $2.7 million. Four years ago, he spent millions to settle a similar lawsuit brought by a fair housing group…. Both accused him of trying to exclude blacks, Latinos and families with children from renting apartments in buildings he owns.

But hey. What’s a little bigotry between a rich donor to liberal favorites and the Times? So….on gushed this ace reporter from the Times in the Times:

Yet there he (Sterling) was last week playing Santa, handing out $1 million from his private charitable foundation to 10 high schools in South and East Los Angeles and 20 charities across Los Angeles County.

Got that? A million Sterling bucks to ten high schools in South and East LA plus 20 charities across Los Angeles County.

Ten high schools in South and East Los Angeles? Hmmm. The Times not long ago put together a project called Mapping LA, which naturally included a look at South and East Los Angeles. The paper reported that South LA has an ethnic background that is 56.7% Latino, 38% black, 2.2% white, 1.6% Asian and the rest “other”. And East LA?  The paper ranked East LA as the least diverse in the city, with 96.7% of the population being Latino, the remainder miniscule populations of blacks, whites and Asians.

This is another way of saying, if the liberal political wisdom that minorities are all liberals is to be believed, Mr. Sterling was in fact doling out his bucks in big time fashion not just to the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. He was also handing out dollars big time to schools concentrated 100% in the heavily Latino and black areas of Los Angeles. The Times story is replete with Sterling quotes that he has donated to “another fabulous Hispanic charity”, a high school “"with all the Hispanic kids” and so on.

The now-resigned head of the local NAACP chapter, Leon Jenkins, (whose resignation was caused by the Sterling kerfuffle) makes an appearance in the 2010 Times story, notably misidentified by Sterling as "Leroy" Jenkins. The Times purrs that Sterling calls Jenkins "one of the most fabulous men ever to run a charity." The paper also reports that

Leon Jenkins' NAACP chapter honored Sterling last spring with its coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his achievements: Giving away thousands of free Clippers tickets to underprivileged children, filling rows of empty Staples Center seats.

The NAACP was not the only African-American group to be receiving Sterling’s money reported the paper.  Writes reporter Banks: “The Black Business Assn. gave Sterling its Humanitarian Award in 2008 and enlisted him to chair last year's awards dinner. "I don't feel like he's a racist," president Earl "Skip" Cooper told me Tuesday night.”

And what about those twenty charities that the Times mentioned?

Over here at the Jewish Journal a spotlight on the relationship between the leadership of LA’s liberal Jewish community and Donald Sterling has switched on, creating a deer-in-the-headlights result.

Reports the Journal:

“Recent comments attributed to Donald Sterling, the Jewish owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was banned for life from the league by the NBA's commissioner on April 29, have been denounced as racist by numerous area Jewish organizations, some of which have received donations amounting to tens of thousands of dollars from the embattled owner.

A search of public records, made available through the website, indicates that from 2010 to 2012, the Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation gave at least $10,000 to groups including The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles (JVS) and the Museum of Tolerance.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its Museum of Tolerance, supported NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s actions. The museum received three donations of $10,000 between 2010-2012, according to”

….(Jewish) Federation CEO and President Jay Sanderson made clear in an April 29 phone interview with the Journal that his organization also would not consider future donations. It received $10,000 in 2012.”

The Journal also publishes this list of recipients of Sterling money:

• Yeshiva Gedolah of Los Angeles: $50,000 (2010).

• Beit T’Shuvah: $10,000 (2010); $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Jewish Vocational Service of Los Angeles: $10,000 (2010); $10,000

2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Los Angeles Jewish Home: $10,000 (2010); $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust: $10,000 (2010); $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Museum of Tolerance: $10,000 (2010); $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Vista Del Mar: $10,000 (2010); $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home for the Aging: $10,000 (2011); $10,000 (2012).

• Creative Arts Temple: $10,000 (2012).

• The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles: $10,000 (2012).

• Temple of the Arts: $10,000 (2012).

So with all this money flowing – make that gushing – to various elements of heavily liberal Los Angeles, where was the Los Angeles Times? The Times ended that 2010 piece on Sterling by saying:

Maybe Sterling is just generous. Or this could be the sort of "make-up" call a referee makes on the basketball court when he knows he's blown a foul. I didn't press him that night for an explanation. He was having so much fun, it didn't seem right to go for a "gotcha" moment.

I can see why people like him. He has the sort of personal touch that makes it easy to buddy up. But I can also see how he gets in hot water. With his tasteless jokes and impolitic comments, Sterling is an easy target.

Thus spoke the Los Angeles Times in 2010, a mere four years ago.

And now? Today? You can’t make it up. The very same liberal paper that reported “maybe Sterling is just generous”  but that Sterling “was having so much fun, it didn't seem right to go for a ‘gotcha’ moment” at that party has taken a different tone altogether. In an editorial published April 28, a little over four years after running a glowing piece in which the Times didn’t have the heart for a “gotcha moment” with this Big Donor to all kinds of liberal causes, the Times headline and subheadline reads:

The Donald Sterling fiasco

If the Clippers owner indeed made the racist statements attributed to him, there's no place for him in the NBA.

The paper’s editorial board now says– in tones that imply they are shocked – shocked! – at what they have now learned, that there is no room for Sterling’s “strange, vile, racist comments.” His words are no longer just “impolitic.” They “are a disgrace to Sterling himself, but more than that, they are an enormous embarrassment to the NBA and the city, and a heavy burden on the talented team now battling to win round one of the playoffs in its best season ever. While we generally support the right of individuals to say and think even the most offensive things, the team is not just another of Sterling's private businesses; it is also a civic institution that plays under the banner of the city of Los Angeles.”

So if this is the way the Times feels, where was it 2010?

The real fiasco here is that the liberals of Los Angeles – beginning with its leading newspaper – couldn’t have cared less about Donald Sterling as long as liberals were getting the Sterling big bucks.

To borrow from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times’s across the continent sibling in big city liberal journalism, the LA Times had “all the news that was fit to print.”  And they didn’t print it. What they ran instead was a glowing profile of a major donor to liberal causes who had these sort of, well, kinda-sorta-really-not-such-a-big-deal side issues.

Which puts the Los Angeles Times squarely at the center of this very real liberal media fiasco.

About the Author
Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania.