David Whiting: The Register's New Bootlicker

[Moxley Confidential] Gordon Dillow may have left the building, but his cop-loving spirit lives on

For 14 years, Gordon Dillow served as the lead columnist at The Orange County Register, where he happily upended the old journalism adage about comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. If you were a rich businessman, a self-styled patriot or a Christian conservative bigot, in Dillow's world, you were automatically right, no matter what horrific act you might have perpetrated. He yearned for a return to the America of yesteryear, when "We never had any trouble figuring out who to root for; all we had to do was look at the color of their [cowboy] hat."

Dillow shamelessly fetishized no group more than cops, earning my permanent moniker "bootlicker." He espoused that if police kill you—even if you're unarmed and guilty of, say, a minor infraction—the fault was yours because law enforcement can't be wrong. It wasn't an accident that some of OC's most deranged, violent cops got hailed as noble saints in his columns. Criticize the police for corruption and cover-ups, and he claimed you must also believe "the CIA toppled the World Trade Center" and "Elvis still walks among us."

In 1999, Dillow defended white, redneck Little Saigon cops who, while on duty, dismissively called Vietnamese immigrants "gooks." After admitting that for years he used the racist term "without so much as a second thought," he wrote that it was "not so easy for me" to take the side of offended Vietnamese. Instead, he advised the public to empathize with the cops' feelings. Perhaps, he explained, the officers who uttered the slur were justified because they had been "frustrated, fearful, angry" by something the immigrant had done.

With his journalism career already discredited after he championed Sheriff Mike Carona, now a convicted felon, and dirty jail deputies, Dillow argued in 2007 that cops still weren't being compensated adequately after they were allowed to retire at 50, and then collect from taxpayers as much as 100 percent of their highest salary for the rest of their lives. Shortly thereafter, a Southern California police group handed him a "Humanitarian of the Year" award.

The Dillow era whimpered out in 2008, and Register editor Ken Brusic, a piece of work himself, eventually filled the slot with David Whiting, an "outdoor" columnist. But Whiting hasn't turned out to be a breath of fresh air. Incredibly, he's determined to be the new Dillow.

After I wrote a May column criticizing jail deputies for knowingly locking a murder-happy street gangster in a cell with a suspected (but later proven innocent) sex offender, walking away, and then acting shocked by the near-fatal beating that occurred, Whiting weighed in. He spent part of one Saturday with jail deputies and, in ghost-of-Dillow fashion, concluded the officers perform their duties "with a lot of patience and a touch of grace." Imagine that: In front of a reporter for a couple of hours, the deputies were "respectful" of incoming arrestees.

Days after I hailed Fullerton businessman and blogger Tony Bushala for publicizing the savage, unwarranted killing of Kelly Thomas in July and inspiring impressive anti-police brutality protests from a cross-section of the community, Whiting weighed in. He opined that Bushala had gone too far and created a "mob mentality" against cops. As if Dillow's fingers pounded his computer keyboard, Whiting asserted that instead of being outraged, citizens should empathize with the cops who kicked, punched, stomped and beat an already-subdued Thomas.

"Unfortunately, most of the public's dealings with police are not during our best moments," Whiting rationalized. "The reality is we're all pro-cop. . . . We agree that we need law enforcement. But few of us want the job. It's just too darn difficult."

That's the tired, old Dillow canard straight from the pages of the cop-union handbook: Police excesses must be excused, and anyone who speaks up against excessive force must be anti-law enforcement. Such a mentality helps explain why, in the early weeks of the scandal, Register news articles dismissively portrayed the vicious Thomas killing as a "scuffle," "tussle" and "fight." Those ridiculous descriptions certainly didn't describe what happened when six fully armed, supposedly highly trained and physically dominant cops attacked a 135-pound fellow who ended up with his head gruesomely battered for the unforgivable crime of taking discarded junk mail from trash bins.

In his Aug. 9 column, Whiting celebrated Mike Sellers, Fullerton's police chief, as a superb public servant, but he forgot to mention that the department brazenly lied from the outset to justify killing Thomas and convince the public to ignore the death. The columnist also lectured the community that the "constructive" thing to do was to stop "speculating" that cops were guilty of any wrongdoing. Wait, he said, to see if District Attorney Tony Rackauckas came to the same conclusion following a thorough investigation.

One guess what Whiting did after Rackauckas completed his probe and charged two of Thomas' killers—officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli—with felonies. That's right: There was not a single sentence of outrage, despite the DA's revelation the cops taunted Thomas before beating him, and then laughed as his bloody, mutilated body fell into unconsciousness. Whiting found something else more worthy for ridicule. He penned his most anti-Bushala, anti-protesters column to date.

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19 comments
Goldeboy7
Goldeboy7

I'm not sure why my earlier comment was deleted...Come on OC Weekly, let's see you do some coverage on the implications of Tony Bushala funding a recall. Normally you guys would be all over this.

Guest
Guest

I have to say, why hasn't OC Weekly investigated how Tony Bushala is singlehandedly financing a recall effort ($30,000 out of pocket I believe...) to buy a city council of his choosing. The guy has a history with RDA's and interesting real estate choices. I would think OC Weekly would look more closely at this side of the issue.

Ricardo Cabeza
Ricardo Cabeza

The OC Register has been a rag for a few decades now. Your column highlights the shallow and superficial editorial content of that daily tabloid.

DubV
DubV

That's how we see those uniforms behind the Orange Curtain..

Joe
Joe

OC Weekly is enjoyable to read with all the investigative reports and unbiased stories. Nobody read OC Register any more. Most of their good reporters at OC Register were gone because all the "Sr. Bootlickers" and shamelessly promote the advertisers or enteprise criminals whoever willing to pay for a price or gaining power.

Joe
Joe

It takes you this long to know about David Whiting "Boot Licker" Mr. Whiting is Kiss Up and Kick Down for a price. All the powerful cop union and DA are his friends in Orange County. Mr. Whiting has a new invincible friends from China and some big names from Chinese community.Be careful and hope you don't cross him.

Joel Beers
Joel Beers

R. Scott Moxley: When an Orange County Journalism Hall of Fame is created (probably by Freedom newspapers) if you're not in the inaugural class it will be a travesty!

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

what is an OC Register? Is it one of those machines that stores put your hard earned money into when you buy something from them?

Frank
Frank

Well written article. I say "boycott the register". The register has one sided reporting.

busta nut
busta nut

OC Register comments are a ghost town with their new system.They can fuck off.

TheDude
TheDude

I could not stand Dillow, the guy was a major idiot, always defending cops and their beating ways, and now we have whiting, another kiss ass!

When I was an MP in the Marine Corps, one of the first things we learned was accountability, if you do something wrong, you're going to get punished for it, not covered up. It's about time, these civilian cops start having some form of accountability!!!

Lap Band Dan
Lap Band Dan

Come on Mox. The register is a fine publication, did'nt you see the kiss ass piece I wrote about the editor leaving at MY BLOG.

I am cub reporter, with a sherriffs card, so I know journalism when I see it (I also how how to be a whore for hits to my site!).

Even though I am democrat, I support the police, can't you tell how I avoided the Kelley Thomas story, until I had to send some love to Sharron Quirk-Silva (who really did NOTHING until the other shoe was dropping). Man that was close, when she was so concerned about the Thomas incident that she flew to Washing DC for Loretta's wedding and then had to rush back leaving her husband behind. Wheew! She almost got labeled out of touch and uncaring. But, now that she's getting ocks for the homeless, she's all good.

So anyway, quit picking on the OCR guys, I already anm 69'ing with Galvan, "Hat Tip", so things can get better.

BTW - did you see these assholes on the lawn in Irvine.

Zzyzxblvd
Zzyzxblvd

Whiting is a tool who gets paid six figures to do nothing while his underlings do all his work for him. Also, back when he edited the Reg's entertainment section, he was by far the most self-centered pompous ass in the newsroom. One time he wrote about a show that ran in print with four major fact/typo errors in it ...

20ftJesus
20ftJesus

I gave up on Whiting after he reported on the OC Jail experience. I agree -- he's a kiss-ass.

DonWill58
DonWill58

Very well written Scott, I still remember your articles on the Ashley MacDonald murder, You are a man of common sense! :)

De Collins
De Collins

Very nice article, well written and so sad that its all so true.

Darrell  G.  Bezet
Darrell G. Bezet

FRIST COME,S OUTRAGE THEN COME,S CRURAGE.TO STAND UP AND BE COUNTED.POOR KELLY; HIS BLOOD CRIE,S OUT FROM THE GRAVE!!! AND WE THE GOOD PEOPLE OF FULLERTON HEAR HIM AND SAY TO EACH OTHER WELL WHAT CAN WE DO,I HAVE A FLY. TO CARE FOR I CAN,T GET INVOLED TO MUCH.ARE I JUST MIGHT BE THE NEXT GUY BEATED TO DEATH OR HANGED IN THE FPD JAIL.!!! WELL I SAY NO GUT,S NO GLORY SPITE IN THE FACE OF ALL THE SO CALLED FPD FACE;: DAM MURDERER,S ALL OF THEM ARE DRITY PIG,S DIE DIE AND TO HELL WITH YOU.!!!!!!!

 
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