At The New York Times annual meeting on April 25, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Arthur Sulzberger Jr. denied that his paper was waging a war on the New York City Police Department and its commissioner, Ray Kelly. The denials are not convincing.
As I arrived in New York City for the annual meeting, the reason for the recent intensity of this campaign became apparent. Other papers were full of stories about how Kelly, who is very popular with city residents, is being pushed by New York City Republican officials to run for mayor.
The New York Daily News is reporting that Kelly’s job approval rating is at 77%, while his 63% favorability rating among city voters was “by far the highest of anyone considering a mayoral run next year.”
The Times is determined to do something about that. On the same day as the annual meeting, the Times published a puff piece on how New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the leading Democrat for the office, could become the city’s first homosexual mayor. The paper happily reported that, on May 19, Quinn will marry her girlfriend, Kim M. Catullo.
This is somehow supposed to be a qualification for higher office.
“She has joked about caterer tastings and trying on dresses. She has sent out hundreds of invitations, sprinkled with references to an early romantic getaway at the Pierre hotel and a shared affection for the Jersey Shore,” reported Times reporter Kate Taylor.
This kind of fluff is what qualifies as hard news reporting by the Times.
The paper added, “Longtime observers of the New York political scene said the wedding could benefit Ms. Quinn, as it would give her an early chance to share her story with voters and to underline the historic nature of her candidacy—if elected she would be the first woman and the first openly gay person to lead the nation’s largest city.”
It would certainly benefit Quinn at the Times headquarters, where support for homosexual rights and homosexual marriage is axiomatic. Affirming the rights of gays is almost as important to the Times as protecting the rights of Muslims to be free of police surveillance.
By contrast, in a story headlined, “After 11 Years, a Police Leader Hits Turbulence,” the Times on February 3 played down Kelly’s success in fighting crime and terrorism, and savaged him with everything but the proverbial kitchen sink. The Times assigned not one, not two, but three reporters—N. R. Kleinfield, Al Baker and Joseph Goldstein—to the story. The charges included:
- Kelly is “confronted with a steady drip of troublesome episodes,” including officers “fixing traffic tickets, running guns and disparaging civilians on Facebook,” and accusations that the Police Department “encourages officers to question minorities on the streets indiscriminately.”
- Kelly these days “seems to exude remoteness.”
- Kelly “is rarely expansive or publicly introspective.”
- “With his stubbled crew cut and muscled look, he is the picture of the prototypical police officer. Beneath his piercing eyes, a grimace appears to have been ironed onto his face.”
Kelly was even faulted for not taking vacations: “Except for a few long weekends, he has not had a vacation in years. He goes to bed knowing his security detail is under orders to wake him if an officer fires his weapon or is shot.”
This concern about public safety and his officers was portrayed as unbecoming.
The real agenda became clear later in the story. It said that government agencies, academics and reporters “complain that the department is unwilling to provide insight into its workings—even statistics on lower-level crime or Mr. Kelly’s daily schedule.”
So Kelly doesn’t spill his guts to the Times and tell them about his schedule on any given day. Perhaps he is suspicious of the press and their agenda. He should be.
Then the article moved on to one of the Times’ pet peeves—surveillance of potential terrorists, in order to keep the city safe from terrorist attack. It said, “Muslims have denounced the monitoring of their lives, as Mr. Kelly has dispatched undercover officers and informants to find radicalized youth.”
The paper added, “This year began with the revelation that a film offensive to Muslims, which included an interview with Mr. Kelly, had been shown to many officers.”
The latter reference is to the film that Rusty Weiss covered in his recent special report for AIM, “Journalism, Jihad and The New York Times.” At the annual meeting, Sulzberger defended a series of articles and an opinion piece that distorted the nature of the film “The Third Jihad” and attacked Kelly for appearing in it. The Times complained that the film, which highlights the threat posed by radical Islam, should not have been shown to police officers as part of their police training.
In fact, the film is narrated by a Muslim and is only offensive to radical Muslims, the kind that associate with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), linked to the terror group Hamas. It was CAIR and the George Soros-funded Brennan Center for Justice that ginned up the controversy over the film.
As I spoke into the microphone at the annual meeting, I reminded the Times’ executives of something that I thought would always be on the top of their minds—that while I had flown in from Washington, D.C., which got hit on 9/11, residents of New York City had suffered to a far greater extent. Nearly 3,000 died on 9/11 in New York City when the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were hit by aircraft hijacked by radical Muslims. A friend of mine near the Twin Towers had told me about people jumping to their deaths rather than be consumed by fire and debris as the buildings eventually collapsed.
The day before the annual meeting I went through and took photographs of the 9/11 Memorial and witnessed the breathtaking twin reflecting pools, each nearly an acre in size, which feature the largest man-made waterfalls in the North America. The names of those who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the pools.
Since then, the New York Police Department has prevented 14 known terrorist attacks.
As Weiss points out in his article, the Times building is only a few blocks away from where a car bomb was placed in 2010. It could have killed dozens of people, including Times executives and reporters going to and from work. It fizzled because the Pakistani bomb-maker was incompetent.
As I mentioned to Sulzberger, after failing to get any kind of apology for his war-on-cops campaign, public support for Kelly demonstrates that the efforts of the paper to undermine Kelly and the police department have not been too terribly effective.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the person who needs to go is Sulzberger, not Kelly.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at email@example.com.