Friday, May 04, 2007

Who are the real criminals?

Teachers know very well that the press is totally biased, controlled and worse, action against the best interests of the public. Fair and balanced, ha! But it isn’t often the proof is laying right out there in front of us. Here is an example of how Giuliani, Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman and Christie Todd Whitman are pretty much out an out criminals.

Posted by Leonie Haimson on nyceducationnews listserve:

Lots of NYers, including children and students, were called back to ground zero before it was safe, as a result of a concerted effort by govt. officials at both the city and federal level to minimize the potential hazards to health. The news media also participated in this coverup – with one notable exception.

Juan Gonzalez of the Daily news was on the story early, but Mort Zuckerman, publisher of the Daily news blacked out many of his later columns. The NY Times ran a series of reports on this issue – parroting the official govt. line and underestimating the concerns of legitimate environmental and health experts.

Recently the editorial staff of the News won a Pulitzer Prize– five years later – for pointing out many of the same health issues that Gonzalez had identified at the time. Yet he was never mentioned, either by the Pulitzer committee, Zuckerman, or other Daily news staff who won the prize.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the Voice about how Gonzalez was treated at the time:

“City officials, trying to discredit Gonzalez's scoop, called a press conference, at which Mayor Rudy Giuliani declared that "the problems created . . . are not health-threatening." In the back channels, as Gonzalez himself later wrote in his book Fallout: The Environmental Consequences of the World Trade Center Collapse, "one of Giuliani's deputy mayors called a top editor at the News to complain." The head of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce fired off a letter calling Gonzalez's column "a sick Halloween prank." EPA director Christie Whitman immediately wrote Zuckerman, accusing Gonzalez of trying to "alarm" people, and her complaint ran on the op-ed page days later. Its opening could scarcely have been more patronizing: "Those of us in government and the media share an obligation to provide members of the public, in a responsible and calm manner . . . " Gonzalez's attempts to follow up his scoop were met with the "obvious displeasure of the paper's top editors," who delayed and sometimes killed his columns, he wrote in his book. What stories he did get published were relegated to the back of the paper—"behind a refrigerator ad," as his Democracy Now co-host Amy Goodman put it….

“Reached at home, where he is on book leave, Gonzalez is clearly magnanimous, congratulating his colleagues and adding: "My only concern is that, if more journalists, not just at the News but in the rest of the New York media, had had the courage to follow the story back then, maybe there wouldn't be as many people getting sick or dying now."

Leonie Haimson
Class Size Matters

For more on this see,hagey,76442,15.html and El Diario editorial below.

Tarnished award at Daily News
EDITORIAL - 05/04/2007

Good journalism is built on the pillars of fairness and accuracy, a fundamental principle the New York Daily News swept under the rug when it failed to pay tribute to muckraker Juan González.

The News received a Pulitzer Prize last month for an editorial campaign seeking redress for sick and dying workers affected during the Ground Zero response. It was a critical campaign—one that had its seeds sown several years before by González.

In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attack, González raised questions about the air quality around the World Trade Center and the environmental and health impacts. Critics—from then Environmental Protection Agency head Christine Todd Whitman to former Mayor Rudy Giuliani—dismissed González, who has alleged that officials knowingly downplayed health threats.

Any serious journalist knows you not only have to ask tough questions, but also get real answers. That mission was undermined when follow up columns by González were killed, according to the Village Voice.

News Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman says that González fired his volleys and that Whitman re-assured the public that it could breathe easy. And that was it. The recent series on the health consequences was a “different story.”

Zuckerman also said he called González to give him credit, although he could not recall whether it was before or after the Pulitzer was awarded.

Could the treatment of González simply be a case of bad manners? Rather, it sounds like a paper disgracefully not following its best lead: a hard-nose journalist pursuing the truth for New Yorkers – in 2001, not five years later.

The News owes González a big apology. It’s González’s investigative skills that have helped maintain an iota of respect left for the News as it chases New York Post readers.

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