November 21, 2011 · 0 Comments
By Yves Smith:
A longstanding [Naked Capitalism] reader and lower Manhattan resident e-mailed me:
I was curious about the first couple of pictures in this set from the NY Times. How were they able to get pictures of the NYPD gathering by South Street Seaport, before the raid?
I was following the events closely on Twitter last night. the first notice of the pending love came from a tweet by the muscian Questo, who announced he had just driven by thousands of police in riot gear by South Street.
Various tweets among #OWS folks debated the significance of this and then the NYPD was spotted moving, the emergency #OWS tweet went out and I also got an email on it. At that point, no press were anywhere near Zuccotti Park nor were any covering it on Twitter. After the #OWS emergency notice, all sorts of people rushed to the scene, including the press.
Seems strange, then, that the NY Times photographer knew to be at this secret location.
Also strange, this article by the NY Times on the chain of events leading up to the raid includes a number of factual details that don’t appear to come from any quotes or press conferences, such as the secret planning that only the top brass knew about. This article has details about where the NYPD gathered pre-raid and details about the status of the park as the raid was beginning. How did the report get this information? Was he or she there? Were they tipped off before any of the other press?
If so, what does this say about the relationship between the NY Times and the Bloomberg administration, as well as the independence of the NY Times reporting?
In the photo series, the high resolution image from South Street Seaport is indeed a bit sus, unless the NYPD has started memorializing its operations for the benefit of posterity and favored media outlets. And in the background story on the raid, I was troubled by how fawning it was, a classic example of stenography masquerading as reporting. The brilliant tactical execution by New York’s finest! And the only people who were manhandled clearly deserved it! This characterization of a raid deliberately staged well out of public view, where there have been reports of the use of tear gas, pepper spray, and unnecessary roughing up, was indirectly confirmed by the punching of a woman on camera today whose offense seemed to be demanding access to the park loudly and having court papers to back her stance.
There are other signs of an overly cozy relationship between the Times and the mayor. The editorial today criticizes Bloomberg mildly, but most papers maintain a church and state separation between their editorial pages and the news sections (the split in the Wall Street Journal is occasionally schizophrenic). A November 3 piece, “Demonstrators Test Mayor, a Backer of Wall St. and Free Speech,” at a minimum shows that access journalisms works. It depicts Bloomberg as well intentioned and struggling to balance the needs of various constituencies. Key extracts:
Mr. Bloomberg’s evolving response to the protest has come to embody a central tension in his third term, between his celebration of free, and at times cacophonous, speech as a hallmark of New York, and his emphasis on bolstering the city’s economy by improving its appeal to residents, employers and tourists. Mr. Bloomberg, who is generally known for his decisiveness, at first emphasized his disagreements with the protesters, then began describing them as peaceful dissenters exercising a fundamental liberty. In the last several days, he has sounded increasingly exasperated, a reflection of complaints from neighbors and accusations of criminal activity in Zuccotti Park…
Mr. Bloomberg has managed simultaneously to be less sympathetic to the protesters’ point of view, and more sympathetic to their right to protest, than some other elected officials around the nation. “There’s nobody that’s more of a defender of the First Amendment than I am,” he has often said
Note that the “accusations of criminal activity” as of that date were drug use and I believe a petty theft. Given how often I smell marijuana in my near geriatric neighborhood and that in front of Bloomingdales is the biggest site for purse snatchings in the city, the mayor seems to be pursuing a double standard for enforcement. Similarly, the headlines on the front page of the New York Times are more downbeat about the future of the movement than, say, those in Wall Street Journal or the Guardian.
I’m curious to get reader reactions. Do you see the New York Times’ coverage as its typical not-as-liberal-as-it-pretends-to-be positioning, or do you also see the corrupting signs of special access leading to more favorable coverage of the officialdom?