The Daily Mirror

Larry Harnisch reflects on Los Angeles history

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Chavez Ravine Circus

May 15, 1959, Editorial Cartoon

May 15, 1959, Editorial The coverage of the Chavez Ravine evictions introduced Times readers to a new villain: television.

"The television pictures -- wonderful action pictures -- were the answer to a demagogue's prayer," The Times wrote in a May 15 editorial. "With such pictures facts would only spoil the effect."

Mayor Norris Poulson roundly criticized TV, and The Times picked up the issue. A few highlights:

May 12: Poulson spoke at a City Council meeting only after Councilman Karl Rundberg suggested getting a subpoena for the mayor, who didn't want to show up. Poulson denied any knowledge of plans to evict the Arechiga family, then walked out of the meeting when the Channel 5 film of the eviction was shown in the council chambers.

May 13: In an editorial, The Times charged that "television people were invited to the eviction and the cameras were a strong temptation to dramatics. The glosses of the commentators on the televised film made it appear as if somebody had wantonly pulled the hair of Our Lady of the Angels."

May 14: Poulson reacted to news that the Arechigas owned 11 homes in Los Angeles by slamming the TV coverage, referring to "some of our unfortunate ham actors on television."

-- Keith Thursby

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