PRINT vs. TALK….This is sort of funny. Every week the LA Times runs a column called “Outside the Tent,” where they invite their critics to, um, criticize them. I’ve been wondering how long it would take until they finally got one they refused to run, and today’s the day.

Today’s column was supposed to be by John Ziegler, a local talk show host I had never heard of until David Foster Wallace profiled him in the Atlantic earlier this month. (Yes, I learned about a talk radio host in my own city from an article by a midwestern writer in a magazine based in Boston. Go figure.) Why was it turned down? Sunday Opinion editor Bob Sipchen thought its accuracy was debatable:

But those weren’t my reasons for rejecting the column. I spurned it because it reads more like a self-infatuated valentine to KFI than the sort of pointed, specific criticism of The Times that we demand in Outside the Tent.

….Just for the fun of it, we’re giving readers a chance to decide for themselves: Did I spare you from several hundred words of pointless blather or deprive you of the opportunity to read a trenchant critique of a Southern California newspaper? Ziegler’s submission follows below. Decide for yourself and vote.

Click here to read the whole thing and then vote.

My opinion? Ziegler’s column was surprisingly turgid and poorly written, but they should have run it anyway. Sure, his point was that talk radio gets to the truth better than the Times, but what else did they expect from one of the self-promoting lunatic hordes at KFI? If you commission a column from a swamp, don’t act surprised when you get swamp water in return.

POSTSCRIPT: The funniest line in the piece comes in an editor’s note at the end that contains the following lament from one of Ziegler’s guests: “I went there thinking it’s a reputable station because Rush Limbaugh’s on it. When I got there I found a station of clowns.” The multiple levels of self-delusion on display there are remarkable.

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