Right before noon on April 16, the New York Post quietly surrendered and conceded its big scoop from the previous day, that 12 people had been killed by the Patriot's Day terrorist attack in Boston, could no longer be sustained.
The concession didn't come in the form of a correction or a clarification. (Rupert Murdoch's money-losing daily rarely bothers with such newsroom niceties). It simply appeared in a news story posted on the daily's website at 11:55 a.m., where any reference to 12 Boston victims was quietly dropped [emphasis added]:
The twin blasts killed at least three people and injured 176 -- including 17 in critical condition, authorities said today.
Four hours later, the Post reaffirmed that it had flushed its big scoop down the memory hole [emphasis added]:
A 29-year-old restaurant manager from suburban Boston and an 8-year-old boy from the city's Dorchester neighborhood were identified today as two of the three people killed in the Boston Marathon bombings.
But that wasn't all.
Right around 3 p.m. on April 16, the Post quietly conceded its other big scoop from the day before was wrong; its claim that a Saudi national student had been taken "into custody" by police, was tagged a "suspect". ("Suspect" was later amended to a "potential suspect.) That second embarrassing concession was announced on the daily's twitter feed:
Investigators rule out Saudi national as a suspect in Boston bombing after searching his apartment nyp.st/Zougoy-- New York Post (@nypost) April 16, 2013
It's not the most pressing question to ponder in the wake of the carnage that exploded in Boston, as authorities search for those responsible. But in terms of journalism and ethics and common sense, the Post's performance does make you wonder how a news organization, and even one owned by Rupert Murdoch, manages to get a story that wrong?
I understand it's the notoriously deceitful New York Post we're talking about. It's one thing to make stuff up about Democrats on behalf of the RNC while the Post proudly plays its role as cog in the Republican Noise Machine. But to completely botch, and so publicly, botch one of the biggest crime story in years?
If there's anything the Post, as a proud big-city tabloid, is supposed to be good at, it's big crime stories; working cop sources as well as sources buried deep inside the FBI and the federal government. The Post is supposed to be wired all across law enforcement, even if the breaking story unfolds in Boston.
So this debacle is bad; really bad. Even for the New York Post.
Conservative media critics have been adamant this week in accusing news organizations of ignoring the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell, who is charged with killing seven babies and a mother. According to the grand jury report, Gosnell was running a "house of horrors" in which he performed illegal late-term abortions by delivering live babies who were then killed by his staff, all under unsafe conditions. Convinced the liberal media is censoring the story because of its alleged support for abortion, critics have been lamenting the lack of coverage and demanding the disturbing local trial be treated as big national news.
On Fox News' Special Report yesterday, contributor Jonah Goldberg complained that "the media is not covering" the story. Fox News employee Kirsten Powers penned a USA Today column criticizing the country's leading newspapers for not putting the Gosnell story on "the front page." (Powers singled out the New York Times and the Washington Post for allegedly downplaying the Philadelphia trial.)
And on Thursday, Rupert Murdoch's flagship American newspaper, The New York Post, weighed in with an unsigned editorial, "Dead Silence," which condemned the supposed "media blackout" surrounding the story.
Like most of the conservative attacks, the Post's editorial saw a clear case of media bias [emphasis added]:
The trial is receiving intensive coverage in Philadelphia and across the conservative press and Web sites. But national networks and newspapers? Not so much.
The reason seems obvious: Much of our press corps skews to one side on abortion. So even though what Gosnell is charged with is closer to infanticide - an unlicensed abortionist profiting mightily by killing the newborn babies of poor, minority women - somehow it's not news.
Isn't that a scandal, too?
Here's the thing: Up until Thursday's editorial condemning the so-called liberal media for not covering the Gosnell trial, the New York Post hadn't covered the Gosnell trial. Not only hadn't the Post put the story on its front page, where Powers demanded it belonged, but Murdoch's Post hadn't covered the story at all*. Meaning, the Post had been part of the media "silence" surrounding the story; the same silence the Post yesterday condemned.
Note that Murdoch's Wall Street Journal also has not covered the Gosnell trial, according a search of the paper's archives, via the Factiva database.
Fox News figures claimed the U.S. should emulate the United Kingdom by slashing funding to federal disability programs and changing eligibility requirements, despite the fact that U.S. eligibility requirements are already stringent, that the new U.K. benefits tests were largely overturned on appeal, and that research shows changes to disability programs in the U.K. will force thousands of individuals with disabilities into poverty.
The New York Post used three examples of anti-discrimination law violations to scapegoat marriage equality as an infringement upon religious freedom.
In a Tuesday editorial, the Post suggested that marriage equality might undermine religious freedom by highlighting instances where religious institutions supposedly had to violate their beliefs in order to accommodate same-sex couples. From the Post:
The answer is that without clear conscience protections, we will see more religious institutions and individual citizens forced to violate their beliefs or be driven off the public square because their moral views have been deemed officially bigoted.
These fears are not hypothetical. In New York, Yeshiva University was forced to accept same-sex couples in its dorms for married students. In New Jersey, a Methodist association was sued after it would not allow a lesbian couple to use its boardwalk pavilion for a civil union ceremony. In Boston, the Catholic church was forced to get out of adoption because it would not place children with same-sex couples. Without clear conscience protections, we will see more, on everything from access to government facilities to licensing or accreditation.
All of these examples, however, resulted from violations of non-discrimination laws. Yeshiva University was sued on the basis that its housing policy for married couples discriminated against gay and lesbian students who at the time were denied the right to marry. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, only Yeshiva's rabbinical school is religious while the rest of the university is "a secular institution open to students of all religions." The New York Court of Appeals found that Yeshiva's policy was a threat to New York's discrimination laws because its policy of providing housing to married couples had a "disparate impact on homosexual students, because they cannot marry and thus cannot live with their partners in student housing."
The Post's second example is equally as irrelevant to marriage equality. The New Jersey Methodist Church was found to have violated the state's Law Against Discrimination when it refused to allow a same-sex couple to celebrate their civil union in a pavilion owned by the church. In doing so, the church violated the requirements of their "Green Acres" program tax exempt status. One condition of the "Green Acres" tax exemption was that a pavilion the Methodist church owned was to remain "open to the public on an equal basis." Though the church lost its tax exempt status under the "Green Acres" program, it was able to replace its "Green Acres" tax exemption with a similar religious exemption, which allowed the church to continue engaging in discriminatory practices. Currently, New Jersey does not have a marriage equality law.
Finally, the Catholic Charities of Boston were not forced out of facilitating adoptions but instead voluntarily stopped providing public adoption services after Massachusetts' four Catholic Bishops found out that gay parents had been adopting children through the service. The Catholic Charities were free to continue discriminating against same-sex couples in private adoptions, but doing so in public adoptions would have violated a 1989 anti-discrimination law because they received public funds. Even the former board chairman of the Catholic Charities, Peter Meade, spoke out against a Maine anti-equality organization's attempt to paint the Catholic Charities case a violation of religious freedom.
Discredited gun researcher John Lott claimed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) "dropped over 94 percent" of instances where an individual failed a criminal background check "after preliminary reviews" in order to discount accurate claims that the background check system has stopped over a million prohibited individuals from obtaining a firearm.
Lott's claim is a willful distortion of how the federal background check system works: once an individual is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) no gun sale occurs, regardless of whether the ATF takes further action.
On to [Senator Chuck] Schumer's second falsehood -- the claim that checks have stopped 1.7 million prohibited sales. In fact, these were only "initial denials," not people prevented from buying guns.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives dropped over 94 percent of those "initial denials" after preliminary reviews. Further review cleared at least a fifth of the other 6 percent.
Lott would have his audience believe that because ATF does not take further action after most denials that the background check system did not actually stop "1.7 million prohibited sales." This claim is blatantly false as a denial means that the sale cannot be completed.
Right-wing media figures distorted Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's congressional testimony to attack President Obama over the response to the terror attack on the Benghazi consulate. In fact, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey explained that the attack occurred in two waves separated by large blocks of time, and White House officials were engaged with military throughout the incident.
The New York Post reacted to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's January 23 congressional testimony with a front page photograph of a supposedly angry Clinton and the headline, "NO WONDER BILL'S AFRAID." The tabloid quickly drew criticism, with writers calling the cover "blatantly sexist," and "offensive sexist garbage." The Post however found a fan with fellow News Corp. employee and Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace.
Speaking on Allman in the Morning, Wallace expressed amusement at the cover, telling host Jamie Allman: "Let me tell you -- you probably haven't seen it, the front page, the big front page of The New York Post today is a picture of her looking, screaming during her answer, and the headline is, 'No Wonder Bill's Afraid.'" A laughing Allman replied: "I don't know, that's not very nice." Wallace responded: "Well no, but it's funny" and "nice can be overrated sometimes."
Listen to Wallace's comments from the January 24 edition of KFTK's Allman in the Morning:
The Post is one of several conservative outlets and figures to push sexist attacks in response to Clinton and the Benghazi attacks. In his January 24 Washington Times column, Wesley Pruden similarly tied Clinton's supposedly "angry and combative" testimony to discredited rumors about her alleged interactions with President Clinton in the White House.
Media coverage of the debt ceiling frequently claims that raising the limit without simultaneous spending cuts would give President Obama a "blank check," repeating a pattern of promoting this false narrative -- or failing to correct it -- that occurred during the unprecedented brinkmanship of 2011. The phrase implies that the debt ceiling governs additional spending desired by the White House, when in fact it is a restriction on the executive branch's ability to borrow money to pay for spending measures already enacted by Congress.
Matt Drudge, Fox News, and The New York Post misrepresented the content of a bill to provide federal aid for the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in order to claim the bill is a "scam" that is "filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage." In fact, less than 0.3 percent of the spending identified is unrelated to Sandy, and that spending is largely allocated to separate disasters.
The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on Monday on a $60.4 billion bill that provides funding for the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his Democratic colleagues in New York and Connecticut, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy, have endorsed a bill of this size, but some congressional Republicans have reportedly balked at the bill, saying it is too large or that its spending should be offset by spending cuts in other areas.
Drudge hyped a New York Post article claiming the bill is "filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage." Fox News Fox & Friends aired a graphic titled "Sandy Scam," which listing six spending items:
Aside from money for fisheries, which represents about 0.2 percent of the spending in the bill, the White House has said that each of the items identified by Fox and the Post -- $42 million for U.S. military bases, including the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, $5.2 million for the Justice Department, $4 million for the Kennedy Space Center, $3.5 million for Homeland Security, and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution in DC -- is directly related to Sandy. The fisheries money is slated to provide aid in wake of other disasters.
Following renewed interest in a proposal to raise the minimum wage in New York, the New York Post attacked the measure as a job killer, despite significant research indicating no substantial link between job losses and wage increases. In fact, studies show the proposed minimum wage increase would benefit New York workers.
Democrats have been seeking a 17% hike in the minimum wage, to $8.50 from $7.25, for a while. [Republican Senator Dean] Skelos and his fellow Republicans, who've controlled the Senate for the past two years, have blocked it.
Yet on Tuesday, the [National Federation of Independent Business] painted a sobering picture of what such a hike would do: Besides killing 22,000 jobs, some $2.5 billion in economic output would vaporize.
"Raising the minimum wage," said Mike Durant, the NFIB's New York director, "will affect the smallest businesses that can least afford higher labor costs, and they'll respond by finding ways to reduce or limit the number of jobs they create."
Depending on inflation, the group says, costs for entry-level workers would soar by as much as 66% by 2022 -- "more than many small businesses can handle."
Some 70% of the lost jobs would come from small businesses, the very engine of job creation.
The Post's assertion that small businesses would be most affected is dubious. Most workers in New York who make minimum wage are employed by larger chains, not by small businesses. According to testimony by National Employment Law Project Staff Attorney Tsedeye Gebreselassie:
Despite misconceptions, the majority of low-wage workers are, in fact, employed by large chains, not small mom-and-pop businesses. Two-thirds of all employees work in firms of at least 100 workers (and half of all employees work in firms with more than 500 workers).
In addition, the larger companies are already paying their workers less and are therefore likely to have to increase wages for their employees in light of a new minimum wage policy. A Fiscal Policy Institute study found that New York retail employers with over 500 workers paid their workers 25 percent less on average than smaller retail employers. As for the claim of massive job losses, another study by the Fiscal Policy Institute found that job growth for small businesses actually grew faster in states with higher minimum wages.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that historically, unemployment is not linked to an increase in minimum wage. A Fiscal Policy Institute study conducted after New York increased their minimum wage in 2004 found that over the next three years, "total employment in the state [had] grown by 3.0 percent." A National Employment Law Project study found that even during times of economic downturn, increases in the minimum wage did not lead to job losses among teens -- part of a group of people the Post has previously targeted as being most affected by a minimum wage increase.
Despite the fearmongering over job losses and slowed economic output, a minimum wage increase would actually have a substantial positive impact on New York workers. Raising the minimum wage would benefit about one million workers in the state, which is just over 11 percent of all New York workers. In addition, it would bring its minimum wage closer to other states in the Northeast such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont -- all which have a higher minimum wage than New York.
Unfortunately, this attack on minimum wage is not new for the Post. Earlier this year the Post editorial board wrote a similarly misinformed piece about minimum wage increases in New York.
In the wake of President Obama's re-election, right-wing media outlets and figures compared the president to a dictator, called for a revolution, and baselessly suggested impeachment.
In a remarkable lead editorial in Rupert Murdoch's New York Post today, the newspaper demands that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie inject presidential politics into the cleanup effort under way in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. The Post insists he do so immediately or run the risk of being a labeled a traitor within the Republican Party.
Murdoch's Post, at this very late state of the election run, demands Christie politicize the hurricane relief effort by basically campaigning for Mitt Romney in the context of the killer storm. (Christie hosted President Obama on Wednesday to survey the state's historic damage.) And if Christie does not, the Post warns, "the Republican Party will never forgive him."
From the Post's "Politicking matters" editorial (emphasis added):
But Christie does need to go one step further and reassure his party -- and not just his party -- that he hasn't turned coat.
Yes, Christie has forcefully avoided politicking post-Sandy -- as he noted when asked about his praise for Obama.
And he was right to do so.
But true bipartisanship includes the need to make clear his belief that the incumbent's vigorous response to the disaster would have been more than matched by Mitt Romney had he been president.
The Post's ominous threat to the Republican comes two days after News Corp. CEO Murdoch took to Twitter to announce Christie would be to blame for the "next four dire years" under Obama if the governor didn't "re-declare" his loyalty to Romney:
There's a deep irony in one of Murdoch's partisan properties now lecturing the New Jersey governor about Sandy. It's ironic because in the immediate aftermath of the epic superstorm, Murdoch's Fox News, and particularly its prime-time lineup, couldn't have cared less about the destruction up and down the East Coast, or even the historic flooding and damage in Fox's corporate hometown of New York City.
As Sandy churned inland last week, Fox was focused on its never-ending Benghazi hysteria and portraying Obama as a treasonous coward. The once-in-a-century-storm that dismantled portions of the largest metropolitan area in America? Fox talkers weren't so concerned.
But now Murdoch declares Sandy matters (perhaps he's seen the polling) and wants the governor of the ravaged Garden State to extol the virtues of Romney's disaster relief effort, even though Romney has no federal experience dealing with disaster relief, and even though candidate Romney has no authority to help the state of New Jersey today.
For Murdoch's Post, blind loyalty to the Republican Party trumps public service, even in the most dire of circumstances.
Last July, the Interior Department suspended one of its employees, Arctic biologist Charles Monnett, pending an investigation into allegations of scientific misconduct by an anonymous Interior Department employee. Monnett was best known for co-authoring a peer-reviewed paper on drowned polar bears that was cited in the 2008 decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species, along with many other papers establishing the threat that climate change poses for polar bears.
The right-wing media used the investigation not only to reject Monnett's findings, but also to dismiss all the science on polar bears and global warming. Fox Nation promoted an Investor's Business Daily editorial claiming the Monnett investigation was exposing "the global warming fraud" with the headline "Global Warming Industry Rocked by Polar Bear Fraud." Fox Nation also promoted a New York Post op-ed on the Monnett investigation with the headline "Global Warming Theory Faces Sudden Collapse."
But the Interior Department cleared Monnett of all scientific wrongdoing. Monnett was officially reprimanded for an unrelated issue: forwarding government emails to local government and university officials that "ended up being used in litigation against the government." Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which provided Monnett legal representation, said that Monnett leaked the emails under the Bush administration to expose suppression of scientists' concerns about the environmental risks of offshore drilling in the Arctic.
Steve Doocy promised last year on Fox & Friends to "keep [viewers] posted" on Monnett's case. But so far Fox News remains silent not only on Monnett's case but also on the record arctic sea ice loss this summer that portends danger for polar bears.
UPDATE (12/6/13): The reprimand has been removed from Monnett's file and he has received $100,000 in a settlement with the Department of Interior.
Dismissing evidence to the contrary, conservative media this week claimed the Obama administration is considering releasing Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as "the Blind Sheikh," who was convicted of planning terrorist attacks against the U.S. Even after administration officials denied accusations that Abdel-Rahman may be released, right-wing media continued to push the claim.
After months of berating the Associated Press over its investigation of the New York Police Department's Muslim surveillance program, the New York Post is suddenly tongue-tied. Following an article by the Associated Press which found that the six-year NYPD program has not yielded a single terrorism investigation, the paper hasn't published a single piece of coverage of the AP story.
The Associated Press uncovered the admission on August 21st:
In more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the New York Police Department's secret Demographics Unit never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation, the department acknowledged in court testimony unsealed late Monday
The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames. [...]
But in a June 28 deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, Assistant Chief Thomas Galati said none of the conversations the officers overheard ever led to a case.
"Related to Demographics," Galati testified that information that has come in "has not commenced an investigation."
It's not surprising that the NY Post is not covering the issue, given that it goes against the pro-surveillance narrative the paper has been trying to push for over a year. For example, in an editorial on November 22, 2011, the NY Post declared, "New Yorkers should be thankful that its police department has been collecting information and conducting surveillance of Muslim communities." After all, they noted on December 26, "there is very good reason why anti-terror investigations often lead to the Muslim-American community." The Post's editorial board penned pieces defending the program on February 13, March 14, March 22, March 30, and April 17.
In June, a Post editorial baselessly alleged that the Muslim surveillance program "led to the arrests of several would-be terrorists." In July, the editorial board got more specific, claiming that, "the NYPD's Intel Unit has had a sterling record since it was established in the wake of 9/11, helping disrupt 14 terrorist plots against the city in the last decade."
The commanding officer of the NYPD "Intel Unit" would seem to disagree that the Muslim surveillance tactic played a role:
"I never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I'm here since 2006," he said. "I don't recall other ones prior to my arrival. Again, that's always a possibility. I am not aware of any."
While the Post editorial board has never really been one for facts, failing to report a news piece that goes against your narrative takes pushing misinformation one step further.
UPDATE: The New York Post editorial board finally weighed in on August 26, largely utilizing semantic arguments against the Associated Press and failing entirely to rebut Galati's admissions that the surveillance program is ineffective. Many Post readers, however, were left with only one side of the story. As of August 28, a full week after the story broke, the paper's straight news sections had still not reported on Galati's testimony.