October 12, 2001
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An article in the metro section of today's New York Times mentions a Mark Green campaign commercial that called Fernando Ferrer "borderline irresponsible." The article quotes one politician referring to the commercial as "distortion and lies," and it says Mr. Ferrer called the commercial "ugly and divisive." But the Times doesn't mention today that the "borderline irresponsible" phrase was a quotation from a description of Mr. Ferrer in a New York Times editorial.
"Powerful": The same article in today's New York Times metro section reports that Mr. Ferrer conceded "at the headquarters of 1199, the city's powerful health care workers union." Some editor would have done well to delete the word "powerful"; the union doesn't look too powerful this morning, with the candidate it backed defeated. In fact, the greatly underplayed angle in this morning's Times coverage is that 1199, the United Federation of Teachers and DC 37, the municipal workers' union, all backed Mr. Ferrer, who lost. It's an amazing display of the political impotence of the city's unions, and it could have implications for how Mr. Green negotiates with those unions if he becomes mayor. Who knows how many voters cast ballots for Mr. Green yesterday partly because they thought his opponent was too closely aligned with the unions?
Endorsements: In its analysis of the race ahead between Mr. Green and Michael Bloomberg, the Times notes that Mr. Green was "endorsed by The Daily News, The New York Post and The New York Times." It doesn't mention that Mr. Bloomberg was also endorsed by the Post and the News.
Lost on 242: A dispatch from Jerusalem in today's New York Times reports, "Mr. Arafat wants all the land taken by Israel in 1967 to be placed under Palestinian control. But Mr. Sharon's advisers contend that a 1967 United Nations resolution calling on Israel to surrender West Bank territory does not require a complete withdrawal."
This isn't just a contention of Mr. Sharon's advisers. It's a checkable fact. Go look at the resolution and the history of the debate in the U.N. over it. The British and American ambassadors to the U.N. at the time are both on the record noting that the resolution does not call on Israel to withdraw from "all the" territories. Such language was proposed at the time and rejected. In addition to calling on Israel to withdraw from territory, the resolution recognizes the right of every state in the area "to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries." For these reasons, among others, the PLO rejected U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 at the time, while Israel accepted it.
The Times has run at least four corrections on the matter in the past year and a half, and the newspaper's then-executive editor, Joseph Lelyveld, mentioned the issue in a speech last year to his top editors, saying, "Three times in recent months we've had to run corrections on the actual provisions of U.N. Resolution 242, providing great cheer and sustenance to those readers who are convinced we are opinionated and not well informed on Middle East issues." In fact, at this point what the repetition of this error by the Times is provoking is not great cheer and sustenance but annoyance and disbelief.
Friedman's Folly: New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes today, "Stalin and Mao killed a lot of their own people, but even these thugs had a plan for their society." His point seems to be that Osama Bin Laden is somehow worse than those two because Mr. Bin Laden has "no vision," "no plan." But merely having a plan is not a redeeming quality if the plan is as diabolical as were Stalin's and Mao's. It's a clumsy comparison.
Park Plans: An article in the metro section of today's Times reports on the proposed demolition of an attractive building beneath the Brooklyn Bridge. The demolition is part of an effort to build a new park on the Brooklyn waterfront. "The demolition of the building is considered critical because it bisects the land to be used for the park, and removing it will allow planners to prepare a design for it," the Times says. This doesn't make much sense. For one thing, as the Times itself has reported in earlier articles, planners have already prepared a design for this park. For another thing, if, as a general rule, planners had to wait for demolition of buildings on a site before preparing their designs, the new New York Times headquarters tower being planned for near Times Square would be pretty far behind schedule.
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