December 31, 2010

As NY Post Builds on Snow Removal Slowdown Story, NYT Calls It All ‘Rumored’

The dictionary says that a rumor is:

- a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts.
- gossip; hearsay

The dictionaries in use at the offices of the New York Times must include the following backup definition: “Any set of facts and/or allegations reported by the New York Post.”

After yesterday’s blockbuster report (“Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest”) Reporters at the Post piled on today, so to speak, with additional news relating to the snow removal slowdown in which New York City’s unionized sanitation workers allegedly engaged:

Sanitation workers targeted specific neighborhoods

There was a method to their madness.

The selfish Sanitation bosses who sabotaged the blizzard cleanup to fire a salvo at City Hall targeted politically connected and well-heeled neighborhoods in Queens and Brooklyn to get their twisted message across loud and clear, The Post has learned.

Their motives emerged yesterday as the city’s Department of Investigation admitted it began a probe earlier this week after hearing rumblings of a coordinated job action.

Sources told The Post several neighborhoods were on the workers’ hit list — including Borough Park and Dyker Heights in Brooklyn and Middle Village in Queens — because residents there have more money and their politicians carry big sticks.

“It was more targeted than people actually think,” said a labor source. “Borough Park was specifically targeted [because of] . . . its ability to sort of gin up the p.r. machine.”

The plan worked. Residents of those neighborhoods — who, after three days, were still trying to dig out their cars — are apoplectic.

… The revelation came as:
* A Queens baby was brain dead last night after poorly plowed roads hampered efforts to rescue him.
* Sources said Sanitation bosses issued verbal directives during the clean-up to give priority to streets near the homes of agency heads and other city bigwigs.
* … Even as streets in the outer boroughs waited for a single plow to arrive, crews were clearing bicycle lanes on the Upper West Side.

Yesterday (covered at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Times played defense for the Mayor and the union and relayed gratuitous shots at private contractors who weren’t there to help primarily because the city didn’t ask for it quickly enough. Today, the Times decided that it would be a great idea to produce a glowing report on the city’s sanitation commissioner, and to dismiss what the Post has reported as “rumored” — without having the guts to name where these so-called rumors were reported, or even originated (bolds are mine):

For City’s Sanitation Chief, Fighting Snow and Taking Heat

… Since the snow stopped falling on Monday morning, local politicians have competed to see who could condemn his department most harshly, with the City Council scheduling hearings to investigate what went wrong. Hours after Mr. Doherty got his car out of the snow (the story indicates that Doherty had to hire “two men with shovels” to dig out his own stuck vehicle –Ed.), Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he was “extremely dissatisfied” with the cleanup effort and vowed to conduct a review of his own — with Mr. Doherty at his side. Newspapers have railed against Mr. Doherty’s street crews and published photographs of his well-plowed block on Staten Island.

“I keep waiting for the picture to be in the paper with the goat’s horns sticking out of my head, like I’m the goat of the storm,” Mr. Doherty said. “We got a black eye. I think my reputation, and the reputation of the department, has been seriously tarnished.”

Mr. Doherty said it was too soon to tell why so many streets remained unplowed days after the snow ended. Faulty equipment, insufficient training and poor communication are all possibilities.

He vowed to investigate whether the rank-and-file deliberately slowed down work to protest budget cuts, as has been rumored, but said he doubted it.

“The only time you’re going to be a hero in this department is when there’s a snowstorm,” he said. “This is the battle we have to win. It didn’t work out.”

“We’ve got to go out there and work hard and get our reputation back,” he added.

I’d be more impressed if Mr. Doherty didn’t seem to be giving hints of a pre-ordained conclusion even before the investigation begins.

As to the Times, there was a period in the history of journalism when reporters, their editors, and publishers would be upset about being scooped on a big story like this. The Times’s behavior during the past two days would seem to indicate that journalism is something the paper no longer practices, and that it really hasn’t been doing so for a long, long time.

Cross-posted at



  1. What a way to say thanks to your community for your paycheck….dont expect it next year.

    Comment by oldman — January 1, 2011 @ 12:26 am

  2. [...] by fact-free defenses of the indefensible at the New York Times, in BizzyBlog posts here, here, and [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — January 15, 2011 @ 7:26 am

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