When the press is lied to, shouldn't it fight back? With politics, that's started, but with Atlantic Yards, stenography too often rules
After 14 years at National Public Radio, Andrea Seabrook left in July and, to hear her talk about her experience covering Capitol Hill, it’s clear that she had one takeaway: It’s damn frustrating.The press is getting better, right? See this overview by PressThink blogger and media theorist Jay Rosen of NYU, which cites, among other things, the notably bold news headline from the Times's 8/31/12 article Facts Take a Beating in Acceptance Speeches:
“I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you’re doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say,” Seabrook told POLITICO. “And I feel like the real story of Congress right now is very much removed from any of that, from the sort of theater of the policy debate in Congress, and it has become such a complete theater that none of it is real. … I feel like I am, as a reporter in the Capitol, lied to every day, all day. There is so little genuine discussion going on with the reporters. … To me, as a reporter, everything is spin.
Representative Paul D. Ryan used his convention speech on Wednesday to fault President Obama for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he himself had helped kill. He chided Democrats for seeking $716 billion in Medicare cuts that he too had sought. And he lamented the nation’s credit rating — which was downgraded after a debt-ceiling standoff that he and other House Republicans helped instigate.
And Mitt Romney, in his acceptance speech on Thursday night, asserted that President Obama’s policies had “not helped create jobs” and that Mr. Obama had gone on an “apology tour” for America. He also warned that the president’s Medicare cuts would “hurt today’s seniors,” claims that have already been labeled false or misleading.
The two speeches — peppered with statements that were incorrect or incomplete — seemed to signal the arrival of a new kind of presidential campaign, one in which concerns about fact-checking have been largely set aside.
In recent weeks, the Romney campaign has broadcast television advertisements leveling the widely debunked assertion that Mr. Obama had gutted the work requirements for welfare recipients. The Obama campaign, for its part, ran a deceptive ad saying that Mitt Romney had “backed a bill that outlaws all abortion, even in case of rape and incest,” although he currently supports exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at risk.
The growing number of misrepresentations appear to reflect a calculation in both parties that shame is overrated, and that no independent arbiters command the stature or the platform to hold the campaigns to account in the increasingly polarized and balkanized media firmament. Any unmasking of the lies or distortions, the thinking goes, rarely seeps into the public consciousness.
Yet the press not infrequently stenographically reports, without corrective comment, misleading, deceptive, or self-servingly incomplete statements about Atlantic Yards from developer Forest City Ratner. (Yes, this is part of the Culture of Cheating.)
Take, for example this claim, from a 4/11/12 Times Sports section article headlined Owner Says the Nets and New Arena Remain Hard-Hat Zones:
But Bruce C. Ratner, the developer who sold [Mikhail] Prokhorov 80 percent of the team and 45 percent of the arena, said that construction should be completed a month ahead of schedule, leading to a Sept. 28 opening with a Jay-Z concert.Of course it won't be completed a month ahead of schedule, just a month ahead of opening.
Or this comment last week to the New York Daily News from a Forest City Ratner spokesman:
A Forest City Ratner spokesman tried to minimize the company’s disappointment at losing the 2 a.m. witching hour.“We’re very sensitive to the community’s concerns,” said Joe DePlasco. “The Liquor Authority recommended 1 a.m. and that’s something we’re fine with.”As I reported, arena backers protested that request from the State Liquor Authority before relenting.
For Forest City Ratner, the developer of the project, which was strongly backed by many city leaders, the changes are evidence that the arena has already met its goal of transforming a dreary section of Brooklyn — the Long Island Rail Road’s rail yards and surrounding industrial buildings, which the company’s spokesman described as “ a scar that divided the neighborhood.”However, as I wrote, Forest City hasn't transformed the rail yards because it hasn't purchased development rights. And it has demolished industrial buildings. The scars remain.
“That’s a sign of economic vitality, something that’s good for the borough,” said Joe DePlasco, the Ratner spokesman.