The top headline on today’s print edition of the Los Angeles Times reads “McCain Doesn’t Seal the Deal”. That same story is also the lead on LATimes.com but with a different, more appropriate headline: “McCain Deals no Lethal Blows in Final Debate With Obama.”
First, the headline on the print edition is wildly misleading. Stating “McCain Doesn’t Seal the Deal” [obviously] suggests he was in a position to “seal the deal,” which isn’t the case. McCain is and was losing to Obama in every national poll. McCain was no more likely to “seal the deal” in the third and final debate than he was to levitate or feed the audience with a couple sardines and a piece of toast. No McCain didn’t seal the deal but he also didn’t turn invisible or ride in on a unicorn.
The next question is why did the Times change the headline for the internet? Did they realize their error after the print edition had gone to press? It’s possible but I have a very hard time believing the headline for the top story of the day was a simple mistake.
The current editor of the Los Angeles times is Russ Stanton, he has held the position since February of this year. His reputation is of a business man first, a journalist second. It’s possible the headline is a result of his personal right wing political preferences. Regardless, the bottom line is Stanton is ultimately responsible for what is printed by the LA Times and today’s headline is disingenuous at best. Thus, the headline is either the result of a (fairly large) oversight by Stanton or an underlying political agenda.
Dishonesty or incompetence – I’m not sure which is worse.