An on-line journal of articles and musings forbidden by the mainstream media.
Monday, August 18, 2003
A Different Drummer
The New York Times: Another Day, Another Editor, Another Scandal
On July 14, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. named a new executive editor, Bill Keller; made a point of insulting Keller’s predecessor, Howell Raines, whom Sulzberger had rewarded for his loyal service, by pushing him out the door; and found himself mired in yet another affirmative action scandal. Don’t it just break your heart?!
In introducing Times veteran Keller in his new capacity, Sulzberger went out of his way to take a potshot at Raines, who had been on the Charlie Rose Show only three days earlier, where he’d spoken of the Times suffering from a “lethargic culture of complacency.” Sulzberger insisted, "There's no complacency here. Never has been. Never will be." Of course, this is the same man who would have you believe that Raines “resigned” on June 5, based on a “mutual” understanding.
There are no “mutual understandings” between an owner and an employee, unless they are binding legal agreements hammered out by the respective parties’ attorneys.
Of course, there was a complacency at the Times when Raines came over from the op-ed section; otherwise, Sulzberger would never have named Raines to shake things up. The hardline socialist Sulzberger wanted what Raines had to offer: An abrasive, go-go management style, and an ideological rigidity that would erase the slight difference then remaining between the editorial and news departments. Raines gave Sulzberger the correct politics, and a cartload of Pulitzers, to boot. And now, Raines had to take the fall for the boss’ diversity politics.
Keller gave a folksy – or at least what passes for folksy on 43rd Street – talk, in which he told staffers to spend more time with their families, and in art museums. Now, I suppose, multi-tasking feature writers will bundle up the kids and their nannies, and spend days in the Metropolitan Museum, writing essays on how New York professional families spend edifying quality time together.
Bill Keller’s ascent, finally, to the executive editorship – he competed with Raines for the job in 2001, and had previously been managing editor for four years – will change little at the Gray Lady, as long as Sulzberger remains publisher. Sulzberger runs the paper at the sufferance of a group of relatives who together own it. In the first quarter of the year -- even before May’s Jayson Blair scandal, the Times made news for all the wrong reasons – for losing 5% of its reader base. I can hardly wait to see the losses from its second quarter!
Mind you, I’m not complaining, because as long as Sulzberger retains control of the broadsheet, we can count on a steady march of journalistic scandals through Timesville.
Actually, as my previous column and many others have showed, the scandals had been going on all the time, but the media kept them quiet. With the Jayson Blair case, some sort of indeterminate critical mass was reached, even though the same media that reported breathlessly on the Blair case, misrepresented it, by denying its quintessentially racial character, and the history out of which it arose.
Indeed, one of the mainstream journalists who most obsessively misrepresented the Blair case, New York magazine’s Michael Wolff, got himself quoted on a local TV news broadcast on July 14, opining, “We are going back to the original fork [actually, it sounded like he said “cork”] in the road,” before the “disaster” of Howell Raines. While Wolff was chronologically correct, I’m at a loss to find any significance in his statement.
On the same day as Bill Keller’s installation as executive editor, the Times published two extraordinarily blunt corrections of a story from seven days earlier. One correction was an editorial statement, and the other was an entire, corrective article by reporter Diana B. Henriques, with the unheard of length of 2217 words.
In a July 7 story on hiphop content provider, TVT Records, reporter Lynette Holloway, who for the past six months has covered the hip-hop business, got a few things wrong. Among other things, she said that since TVT President Steven Gottlieb had defaulted on a loan from Prudential Securities, Prudential now controlled TVT, and was looking for a buyer for TVT.
“While battling Def Jam [a competitor, in a successful, $132 million lawsuit], Mr. Gottlieb lost control of his company to Prudential Securities, which took over TVT Records in February after Mr. Gottlieb defaulted on loans totaling $23.5 million, court records show. Two weeks ago, Prudential began looking for buyers, people close to the case said.
“But even if TVT is not sold, Mr. Gottlieb may have trouble regaining control over his label. If his award is substantially reduced when the case is heard on appeal this fall, his ability to finance his business could be imperiled.”
Holloway also described TVT president Steven Gottlieb as sue-happy (“litigious”), as if Gottlieb went around shaking down competitors with strategic lawsuits.
Reaction wasn’t long in coming.
On Friday, July 11, in a Fox News story, Roger Friedman reported that,
“Monday's Times article by business reporter Lynette Holloway spins TVT as a loser outfit and gives a lopsided look at the company's financial situation. The story was also riddled with errors, according to a press release issued by TVT.
“The problems stem from the Times reporting on a $23 million loan TVT obtained in 1999. Owner Steve Gottlieb used 5 percent of the company's back catalog as collateral in what was then called a securitization or a ‘Bowie Bond.’ Prudential Securities put up the money. But Prudential claims TVT has defaulted on the loan, and has been trying to foreclose on it for about a year. Just the loan, not the whole of TVT.
“Just the 5 percent. Got it?
“Apparently the Times didn't. In Monday's paper, Holloway declared that Gottlieb had lost control of TVT and that Prudential was now shopping TVT to new buyers. This was in the New York Times, so maybe people believed it. It is, however, untrue.
“In fact, Gottlieb is very much in control of TVT. Prudential does not own it, isn't in charge of it, and isn't selling it. A Prudential source said to me yesterday: ‘When I saw that story in the Times, I thought, 'That's interesting. How can we sell something we don't own?’
“In fact, in February, Prudential was denied the right by a judge even to foreclose on the assets that had been used as collateral by TVT. And that was just a few soundtracks, etc, all from 1999 and earlier. Somehow the Times missed that.”
Friedman’s story – perhaps helped along by TVT’s PR and legal departments -- apparently motivated the dramatic Times corrections, which appeared on July 14. First, the unsigned, house correction, which follows in its entirety.
“An article in Business Day last Monday about Steven Gottlieb, founder and president of TVT Records, discussed his involvement in a number of lawsuits and assessed the financial status of his company. The article's main premises — that Mr. Gottlieb had lost control of his company and had a reputation for being litigious — were based on fundamental misunderstandings of the subject, scope and status of the legal proceedings discussed.
“A review of the legal cases and the facts indicates that it was not fair to describe Mr. Gottlieb as litigious, and it shows that Mr. Gottlieb remains in control of TVT Records. A corrective article, which appears today in the business section, is linked here.
“Beyond the inaccuracies arising from the article's mistaken premises, there were other factual errors. Mr. Gottlieb graduated from Harvard Law School in 1984, not 1985, and his office is in Manhattan north of Houston Street, not in SoHo. He started his company with $125,000, not $250,000. The theme song from ‘The Brady Bunch’ was part of the second volume of Mr. Gottlieb's album ‘Television's Greatest Hits,’ not the first.”
“Fundamental misunderstandings,” indeed!
Not only that, but on the same day, the Times ran an extraordinary, 2217-word corrective story by reporter Diana B. Henriques, that did everything but call Holloway a dithering incompetent.
“In a profile of Mr. Gottlieb last Monday, The New York Times reported incorrectly that Mr. Gottlieb had defaulted on a $23.5 million loan and that as a result, in February he had lost control of his company, officially called TeeVee Toons Inc., to Prudential.
“In fact Mr. Gottlieb was never personally responsible for the defaulted loan and remains in full control of his company…. Prudential has no claim to TVT Records itself and therefore would not be in a position to sell the company, as the article reported.
“The article also cast a negative light on Mr. Gottlieb's history of involvement in lawsuits …
“It also referred inaccurately to his relationships with certain prominent performing artists, and several important aspects of his recent courtroom victory in which a jury awarded him $132 million in a contract dispute with the Island Def Jam Music Group …
“Beyond the inaccuracies arising from the article's mistaken premises, there were also several other factual errors …
On Tuesday, July 15, writing for Fox News’ sister company, the New York Post, media business reporter Keith Kelly added some background, and listed some of Holloway’s previous bloopers, such as reporting in March, that Madonna’s lifetime worldwide record sales were $200 million, as opposed to the correct figure of over $2 billion.
“Times staffers are holding their collective breath, hoping another Jayson Blair scandal is not about to erupt….
“Early indications point to sloppy reporting and factual errors in Holloway's stories….
“The Blair scandal led to criticism that Raines had protected Blair despite a poor record because Blair is African-American and Raines was trying to improve diversity in the newsroom.
“Halloway's [sic] problems could lead to similar questions, since she is also African-American.
“Like Blair, she had caught the attention of Raines, who put her in the media section of the paper, insiders said.
“Investigators at The Times will find Holloway has had other problems with her reporting. She has worked the media beat for about six months, and was at the paper for about 10 years before that….
“Holloway referred calls to the Times and said that she has not been fired or suspended or otherwise forced out as a result of the correction.”
Apparently, Raines had moved Holloway, who had previously covered education and the media, to cover hip-hip, because she is black. Some observers denounced the thinking behind such a transfer as “racist,” but if it is racist, it is a racism with which the vast majority of black reporters and editors concur.
In the news business today, black “journalists” demand to be given control of any stories or departments that deal with black folks, and as William McGowan (in 2001 in Coloring the News) and Ruth Shalit (in a 1995 New Republic expose, on race relations among Washington Post writers and editors) have revealed, they routinely do everything in their considerable powers, to sabotage work by white reporters working the same territory. And when whites still manage to write any unflattering stories on black public figures, black journalists cry “racism,” as former Washington Post staffer Jill Nelson did in her memoir, Volunteer Slavery, and their white supporters, such as Queens College political scientist Andrew Hacker (in Two Nations), insinuate the existence of a white conspiracy to harm high-profile black men.
Just so we’re clear, Andrew Hacker was talking about a white conspiracy against the likes of corrupt, Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry, murderer O.J. Simpson, and boxer Mike Tyson, who was accused of rape by a black woman, and convicted, no thanks to any white reporters or editors.
Such racial gangsterism is a big reason why Mayor Marion Barry was able to destroy Washington, D.C. In Volunteer Slavery, Jill Nelson, who felt a similar protectiveness toward Barry, and corresponding hatred toward white journalists who lacked such feelings, brags of her success in manipulating an unflattering story on the mayor. A black woman had charged Barry with having raped her. Nelson got the word “rape” dropped from the story, in favor of “forced,” so that readers ultimately would not know what the woman said Barry had done to her. “Woman Says Barry Forced Her Into Sex; Mayor Calls Testimony ‘Not Believable.’” Nelson later exulted, “Now that’s spin control.”
In a spirit of patronizing generosity, permit me to point out that Lynette Holloway has previously gotten stories right, and that a white Times reporter botched a story just as badly three years ago, without getting fired.
The story Holloway got right, was on so-called bilingual education. She observed that many Hispanic children were “languish[ing]” for as many as nine years in bilingual education. For this attack of honesty, Holloway was roundly attacked by the bilingual ed lobby. Who ever said, “honesty is the best policy”? In journalism, as in academia and the public schools, nothing will get a person in more trouble, than telling the truth. (Actually, things were much worse than Holloway reported. Hispanic children often languish for thirteen years in bilingual ed, and graduate from high school illiterate in both Spanish and English.)
The Times white, alleged reporter who dramatically botched a story, was Kate Zernike; the story was on the reaction, or lack thereof, to the June, 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Boys Scouts of America’s ban on gay scout leaders. Kate Zernike’s August 29, 2000 front page story, reported that “corporate and governmental support for the organization had slipped markedly,” citing the withdrawal of monetary support by Chase Manhattan, Merill Lynch and Textron. As William McGowan chronicles in Coloring the News, Zernike was found to have written one falsehood after another, including her suggestion that many parents of boy scouts were opposed to the policy, and that, as McGowan put it, “a grassroots rebellion … could be in the offing.”
“Not a week later, though, the Times was forced to run a mortifying, five-paragraph correction undercutting almost every one of Zernike’s contentions.”
Was Kate Zernike fired? Not at all. Was she reprimanded? Of course not. On the contrary, if anything, in supporting the campaign against Boy Scouts of America led by the mainstream media’s “gay mafia,” Zernike’s lies enhanced her standing at the Times.
As Accuracy in Media founder Reed Irvine reported in News Max in 2001, at the 2001 convention of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, New York Times national political correspondent, Richard Berke, celebrated that, "Now, there are times when you look at the [Times'] front-page meeting and ... literally three-quarters of the people deciding what’s on the front page are not-so-closeted homosexuals."
It’s thus no accident, that after having published hundreds of stories on the 1998 murder of openly gay, Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard by two heterosexual men, the Times refused to report on the savage, 1999 torture-rape-murder of Jesse Dirkhising in Arkansas by two gay pedophiles.
As I will show in a later column, the Holloway corrections notwithstanding, since the departure of Jayson Blair, and the dismissal of Howell Raines and managing editor Gerald Boyd, the paper has not changed its corrupt ways at all.
This column originally appeared in Toogood Reports on July 24, while I was away on vacation.