I went to the NY Times website on Tuesday night. I was looking for what I figured was the inevitable pre-Belmont front page article by Joe Drape and his partner-in-crime Walt Bogdanich; with their latest exposé in a continuing and, at least in Drape's case, long-running series of similar exposés on drugs, cheating trainers, and dead horses. But there was nothing there. Scrolled down and noticed down in the sports section nestled about 2/3rds down the home page this story here. A little more on Doug O'Neill, but mostly about J. Paul Reddam, the owner of I'll Have Another as well as Cash Call, the predatory loan company with a shady record both ethically and in the eyes of regulators in some states. Nothing new here to be sure, and I've made allusions to it on this site in the past.
So, I have to say that I was utterly flabbergasted when I saw the piece, by Richard Sandomir, who does a fine job commenting on TV sports coverage in his usual role at the paper, right there on the front page. The article is perfectly legitimate and timely as a background piece about an owner of the Triple Crown prospect with a record of unsavory business practices. But it's only front page news here because the editorial staff of the paper determined that it fits with its agenda of portraying the sport in the most negative light possible. And the Times sure has no hesitation to make that agenda clear. It's almost laughable at this point when you see a story like this hogging front page space.
Saw another article posted on the site on Wednesday night, this one in the City Room section and entitled At Belmont Park, a Clinic's Doctor Gets Track Workers Back on Their Feet. And I thought, oh good, there's a positive, feel-good article, about a tireless doctor working arduously around the clock to help out people in need. But it's not; it's really less about the doctor and far more about the miserable conditions that cause people to go see him - rat bites, bed bugs, bad air, bad food ("possibly from eating food left for hours in barns swarming with flies"), the flies, giant dung heaps, broken jaws from horses swinging their heads. It's a bleak and depressing piece that paints a horrifying picture of conditions on the backstretch, and should I have expected anything else? Figured it might even land on the front page (it didn't).
Profoundly worse in my view though is the way the paper is reporting on the revelation, first reported as the lead front page headline story on Tuesday and mentioned in the prior post, that the New York Gaming Association (NYGA) contributed $2 million to the Committee to Save New York, a pro-business group closely associated with Governor Cuomo, right around the time that he officially made expanded gaming a priority; within days in fact of a op-ed piece in favor of casinos that he wrote for the Times. The paper followed that up with an article by Nicholas Confessore on Wednesday in which the Cuomo administration, and Mayor Bloomberg, defended the governor's ties to the group.
And today, Danny Hakim writes (based on a report in the Wall Street Journal) that three Genting executives personally pitched Cuomo on the now-dead Big A convention center at a fund raiser.
The event was attended by real estate and gambling executives, as well as Jennifer Cunningham, a communications strategist who consults for Genting. The convention proposal was made by K. T. Lim, the chairman of Genting, and Christian Goode, the company’s lobbyist.
This is all well and good. However, the Times fails, in any of these articles, to mention Cuomo's comments at his Monday news conference, which I imagine that Hakim and/or Confessore probably attended (and if they didn't, they surely are aware of what he said). To repeat, the governor said of NYGA's hopes to gain exclusive rights for expanded casinos at its existing racetrack racinos:The fund-raiser was not originally disclosed on the governor’s public schedules, The Journal reported; the omission, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo told the newspaper, was “inadvertent.” [NYT]
“I 100 percent oppose that. One hundred percent. I believe it should be an open competition where we bring in the best companies and I believe we should get the best deal for the taxpayer that we can get....I don’t believe the racinos have any claim for primacy.And then he went on to call the current racino arrangement a "scandal," implying that taxpayers are not getting their fair share of the proceeds.
However, it's clear that NYGA was formed for one purpose, and one purpose only - to get casino gambling for themselves. On Monday....prior to the publication of the original article....Cuomo made it entirely clear that this is not going to happen on his watch. To me, that changes the entire context of this story....and not in a way that the Times particularly wanted to see I'm sure, as it runs squarely counter to the point that they are obviously trying to make - that the governor is under the sway of groups donating to his cause.