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Atty. Gen. Campaign

November 03, 1994

The Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times has apparently adopted a style of headline writing commonly found in grocery store tabloids and in the process has revealed a lack of objectivity unbefitting the state's largest newspaper. (Your) editors placed the headline "Lungren 'Sleaze' Is Assailed" (Oct. 26) over a story about a sick political commercial being aired by Tom Umberg, which accuses me, as attorney general, of being responsible for the death of Polly Klaas.

Let me get this straight: A candidate for attorney general--Tom Umberg--who is badly trailing in every independent poll decides the only way he can improve his situation is to put a desperate attack ad on the air which accuses me as attorney general of being responsible for a young girl's death. The ad has been condemned by, among others, the Polly Klaas Foundation (which asked Umberg to take it off the air--Umberg refused); the Los Angeles Times (which also called on Umberg to pull the ad immediately, and labeled the ad "a vicious low blow"), the Sacramento Bee ("His (Umberg's) campaign ethics leave much to be desired"), the San Jose Mercury News ("Cheap shot"), and Sonoma Sheriff Mark Ihde, whose deputies encountered the man suspected of killing Polly Klaas (the ad "distorts the truth").

Yet the editors of The Times' Orange County edition fell for Tom Umberg's late October desperation and gave credibility to his sleazy ad. Headline writers are supposed to be immune from political spin, at least more so than tabloid papers.

DAN LUNGREN

California attorney general

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