Editorial: If Santa made a list this year, there’d be a lot of stockings with lumps of coal

Pro-Trump protesters clash with police.
No doubt the hundreds who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to thwart the certification of the 2020 presidential election would be on Santa’s coal-distribution list this year.
(Los Angeles Times)

If Santa was really taking names for his 2021 naughty and nice list, surely the Jan. 6 insurrectionists would fill the top, along with former President Trump and other Republican politicians who have attacked our democracy and continue to peddle the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen.

But regrettably, there are plenty of others who also deserve to be added to the dishonorable side of the ledger. Those disappointments are tempered by the heartwarming actions of those who populate the “nice” side of the compilation. Here is our annual tally of the people — and, in some cases, the things — that deserve special recognition this year.



Fox News host Tucker Carlson, for using his enormous media platform to promulgate conspiracy theories and misinformation about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, the “deep state,” COVID-19 vaccines and too many other topics to mention here.

The countless conspiracy peddlers on social media whose lies and sophistry have made it harder to end the pandemic, leading to preventable illness and death.

From the Capitol riot to vaccines and climate change, a look at what dominated the news and conversation in 2021 as the world began to move past the pandemic.

The world leaders and billionaires with secret offshore accounts designed to hide their wealth and dodge taxes who were exposed in the Pandora Papers published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, for numerous offenses. Among them: He failed to show up to the Civilian Oversight Commission meetings despite being subpoenaed; organized an off-the-books investigative unit to look into his political rivals; and sent deputies to patrol Venice Beach despite it being under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, whose opposition may have doomed President Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill and its historic investment to fight climate change. We’d say give him a lump of coal, but that would only add to the mountain of profits he makes from the coal industry.

The Los Angeles firefighters and police officers who not only refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19 but sued the city to stop the mandate. What happened to “protect and serve”?

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who equated wearing masks to protect against COVID-19 to the Holocaust, compared Democrats to Nazis, called for the execution of various elected officials and spread an antisemitic conspiracy theory that the deadly 2018 Camp fire was caused by space lasers owned by the Rothschilds.

The UC Board of Regents for eliminating all college admissions tests despite a thoughtful faculty report that called for retaining them.

Mayor Eric Garcetti for looking to bail on Los Angeles early to become ambassador to India.

Andrew Cuomo, the disgraced former Democratic governor of New York who resigned while under investigation for sexual harassment, and his brother Chris Cuomo, the disgraced former CNN host who was fired by the network after it was revealed that he used his job to help his brother fight the sexual harassment accusations.

When will powerful men finally realize that making advances, even in jest, to staffers is never OK?

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who slunk off to Cancun after a winter storm in his home state of Texas overwhelmed the state’s electrical grid and cut off power to millions of his constituents, and caused the deaths of more than 200 people.

The recall supporters who abused the state’s direct democracy system by pushing politically motivated campaigns to oust Gov. Gavin Newsom and other local government officials because they didn’t like their policies.

The captain of the Ever Given for bringing global trade to a halt after his container ship got wedged in the Suez Canal and blocked shipping traffic for a week.


Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, for diverting Jan. 6 rioters away from the U.S. Senate chamber, giving senators time to get out of harm’s way.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), for having the courage to reject Trump’s lies about the presidential election being stolen, condemning the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, supporting the second impeachment of Trump, and standing up for truth in the face of craven attacks by Republican leaders, death threats and loss of her position as House Republican conference chair.

The Bruce family, for keeping up the fight to regain the Manhattan Beach property wrongly taken from a previous generation and righting one of many wrongs done to Black property owners in the service of white supremacy and racial exclusion.

The Derek Chauvin jury, which did its work amid enormous scrutiny and found the defendant guilty of killing George Floyd in 2020.

Vanessa Nakate of Uganda and other youth activists at the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, for calling out world leaders’ hollow promises and demanding real action.

Scientists, for developing the first vaccine for malaria, a disease that kills hundreds of thousands a year in Africa, most of them children.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover and its robotic helicopter, Ingenuity, for an inspiring and successful mission that included the first powered, controlled flight on another planet.

Perseverance, NASA’s newest rover, completes its 7-minute descent and lands safely on Mars to begin a mission that will last at least one Martian year.

California’s top state and county elections officials for smoothly pulling off the recall election amid tight deadlines, piqued emotions and lots of unexpected turns of events.

Public school teachers for largely getting on board with the vaccine mandate, making campuses safer and allowing children to get back to the classroom.

Britney Spears — yes, really — for standing up to her father and others in control of her life by way of a probate conservatorship, winning back her independence and in the process revealing serious problems in California’s conservatorship system.

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles and tennis star Naomi Osaka, for their courage and frankness in discussing their mental health and bringing attention to the immense pressure felt by female athletes.

The L.A. school board for hiring an experienced, promising new superintendent, Alberto Carvalho.

Larry Elder, whose reactionary conservative views as a candidate for governor scared Californians enough for them to overwhelmingly reject the recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom.