More Disparate Coverage at LA Times: Barack Obama vs. Bill Cosby

On Friday (October 27, 2006), Illinois Democrat Sen. Barack Obama was in Los Angeles for a book signing and a rally for the Democratic Party. The Los Angeles Times heralded his appearances the next day with 1027 words and two photos in a glowing article entitled, "A rising star from Illinois makes some noise in L.A." The piece was displayed prominently on the front page of the 'California' section (page B1). Writer Carla Hall hailed that Obama spoke before a "rapt crowd" and that he "was sent off with a crescendo of applause." She reminded her readers that Obama had "electrified" the 2004 Democratic National Convention as a speaker.

Yesterday (Saturday, October 28, 2006), comedian Bill Cosby was in Los Angeles to speak at an education forum organized by local black leaders. Today, the Times documented the event with 580 words and zero photos in a piece tucked at the bottom of page B3. The title: "More straight talk from Cosby" (by Times staffer Deborah Schoch). (Amid the straightforward reporting that Cosby "chastised" black parents and "chided" teachers, Schoch was able to relay that Cosby was "greeted with sustained applause." But, apparently, things didn't quite reach a "crescendo.")

Unequal coverage? It sure looks like it.

Although Los Angeles is over 1500 miles away from Illinois, the Los Angeles Times appears to be continuing its love affair with Obama. In January 2005, when the freshman senator first took office, I noted in this piece that the Times trumpeted his entrance into the U.S. Senate with four flattering photos over two consecutive days. Even then, the Times was already calling Obama a "rock star." And since then, Obama has been the subject of a number of flattering pieces in the Times, like yesterday's and this one a couple of months ago.

Now you may understand why radio host Larry Elder refers to the Los Angeles Times as the "Democratic Times of Los Angeles."

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