The formerly doggedly liberal LA Weekly is likely in the hands of a genuine zealot.
You may have heard that Brian Calle, the public face of Semanal Media, the organization that recently acquired the LA Weekly, has conservative tendencies. His stint as the head of the editorial board for the Orange County Register pushed the paper’s editorial voice to the right, and his time as a VP at the notoriously right-wing Claremont Institute suggested that he had conservative aims when it comes to the editorial future of LA Weekly.
But hey, here’s some bad news: we have every reason to believe he’s somehow MORE conservative than all that would suggest. The formerly doggedly liberal LA Weekly is likely in the hands of a genuine zealot.
Before Calle joined the Southern California News Group (the organization that operates the Register among other papers including the Daily News) he was the Editor-in-Chief of CalWatchdog.com, a non-profit and theoretically non-partisan organization whose stated mission is “reporting on the state Capitol, state agencies and on significant government-related stories from across California that are of statewide importance.”
To read CalWatchdog is to dive into a site that feels anything but non-partisan. It is an extremely right-wing publication, that pushes an avidly anti-union, anti-tax line that could not be less in line with the history of the LA Weekly. Why bring this up? Because reading about Calle’s conservatives bonafides is one thing. Seeing him in action teeing up softball questions to some of the most ardently conservative people on Earth is another. So, let’s watch Calle’s series of interviews with these people!
(Remember with these videos that Calle was the editor of the site. Decisions like titles, and editorial bent probably fell directly under his purview. He wanted these interviews to appear the way they do.)
Let’s start with Dinesh D’Souza, whom Calle lets spiral off unchecked on the cultural decay of California, before letting him defend himself for two solid minutes on his felonious history of violating campaign law:
You like anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist? No? Well, Brian Calle sure seems to! And even more than that, he also seems to like the idea of Uber leading the way to destroy the left in California:
Here’s one with a libertarian school administrator from Colorado entitled More Students, Less Funding, Happy Teachers. Seriously, that’s the title. Who loves overcrowded, underfunded schools? Let’s watch!
These are all awful. And there’s dozens more if you want to see Calle treat Steve Forbes, Darrell Issa, an editor of the National Review, Scott Walker, Rand Paul or any number of other less well known villains with the journalistic scrutiny that Ryan Seacrest would give the cast of Stranger Things. But I think you get the idea.
LA Weekly has a long history of doing largely great journalistic work with a political bent that generally matches Los Angeles’. It’s vacillated some through the years, but it’s never looked anything like this.
From these interviews and the rest of his body of work, Calle’s politics do not seem like a match for this city’s. I do not trust what any press release he may issue says; Calle’s (and his silent partners) appropriation of the paper’s history and readership can be seen as an attempt to not only destroy what the LA Weekly was, but use it to hurt our city’s workers with an anti-union, anti-regulatory editorial stance that is absolutely incongruous with decades of the paper’s history.