Does Anyone Believe New York Post's "Exclusive" About A Union Plowing Slowdown?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

It's been a week since Rupert Murdoch's New York Post splashed its "exclusive" about how "selfish" union members of New York City's Dept. of Sanitation purposefully didn't clear local streets in the wake of the recent blizzard in an effort to embarrass the city's (formerly Republican) mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Why? Because he cut the department's resources.

The Post's "exclusive" was built around anonymous sources. The key sources were a handful of nameless union workers who supposedly spilled the beans of the slowdown plan to a local Republican city councilman, Dan Halloran. It appeared the Post did not actually interview those sources, but rather interviewed Halloran, who relayed what the nameless sources supposedly told him. (Yes, that's the definition of flimsy sourcing.) The claims of a work slowdown were quickly met with universal denials from city and union officials. (The New York Times, reporting on the federal investigation that the Post story sparked, noted that evidence of a slowdown has been "scant.")

Bloomberg was widely criticized for the city's handling of the blizzard and the Post's "exclusive" provided an appealing scapegoat. The "exclusive" was quickly heralded by conservative partisans who embraced the story and derided greedy union members for putting New Yorkers at risk with an alleged work slowdown. (i.e. The storyline fit nicely with the right-wing blogosphere's never-ending orgy of union-bashing.)

What's telling though, is who has stepped forward to say they don't believe the Post story. First up was Mayor Bloomberg himself [emphasis added]:

"I don't think it took place," Bloomberg said of the slowdown.

And now this morning appearing on Morning Joe, Republican Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, also said he didn't believe the Post story:

If there was a slowdown, and I'm not sure there was, I would doubt it. Because I know the Sanitation Department. That just doesn't sound right to me, that there was some deliberate slowdown.

If the Post can't get the current or former mayor on board with its union-bashing "exclusive," I don't think there's much hope.

New York Post
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