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Thursday, June 07, 2012

All the News That's Fit to Manipulate

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.
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]
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: 
“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.

Now, the Times is clearly raising fair and important points here.  It's surely disturbing that a company like Genting can get face time with the governor by virtue of their campaign donations.  And the idea of an advocacy group like NYGA donating unlimited and unregulated sums to a group closely allied with Cuomo reeks of the kind of same-old/same-old special interest influence that has ruled New York politics and that the governor has pledged to distance himself from.  It's only because of the Times' reporting that we even know about the donation, as they are not required by law to be attributed to the donator. 

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.

So, the Times has apparently decided to simply ignore the governor's remarks.  And that is just wrong on many levels.  This just HAS to be reported - it's an integral part of the story, whether they like it or not.  To not report it is either incompetence, or, even worse but far more likely in my view, a case of the Times manipulating the news so that it better fits with its agenda.  Without trying to be too over-dramatic here, that's something I'd expect to find, for example, in the state-controlled Syrian press rather than in the most prominent newspaper in our country of unfettered free press and expression.  It's unfathomable and unconscionable.  In my opinion.

And now, enough of that.  13 races on Saturday, full fields galore, and you know me, I'm as excited (or more) for those restricted claimers on the grass as for the supporting stakes.  So, time to get to work.


Anonymous said...

Alan said...
"The Times manipulating the news so that it better fits with its agenda".

Alan,this stuff with has been going on forever.You haven't wanted to notice because you have the same political presuasion as the Times.

Welcome to the party.

SaratogaSpa said...

The paper should be called the NY Agenda Times.

Just go back and read their articles on the Duke Lacrosse players alleged rape scan if you want to see an agenda.

Alan Mann said...

@10:34 - Well, I suppose that's a fair comment! :)

jk said...

You can make the case the backstretch workers should be part of the NY Public Employees Union with appropriate medical & pension benefits. These people work on what is now State owned land and Cuomo has taken over the NYRA board.

Thee is plenty of money for slots and purse increases, time to treat the workers right as well.

The State threw the NYC OTB workers under the bus so I do not hold out much hope the State will make things better on the backstretch.

Anonymous said...

The NYT had another excellent and riveting piece on manipulation the other day...

Alan Mann said...

^^ lol, thanks for that. Man, I hate when that happens....

steve in nc said...

I'm not opposed to agenda-driven reporting, which is why I haven't always agreed with your attacks on Drape here.

But I do agree that the reporting should be fair and complete(the best agenda-driven reporting is), and the agenda should not be hidden. That's simple honesty.

So I agree with all the comments and with your post, Alan, with one quibble:

With regard to racing/gambling politics/economics, the Times may have an agenda, but it isn't necessarily the state's agenda (if there is a unified one, that is hard to tell). You are showing them attacking Cuomo in an underhanded way, not backing the state.

So, the Syria reference was wrong as well as over-dramatic. That should be saved for things like the Times' Cold War reporting, and the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, when it really was like state media.

And while criticizing the Times, we should bear in mind that the entire mainstream media is just like it when it comes to important stuff like international affairs.

You can find an entire library's worth of documented lies and disinformation going back many decades by the State Department, Pentagon and intelligence agencies, no matter which party was in control, so no journalist should EVER use those agencies as a source without independently confirming the facts.

Yet almost all the information reported about world conflicts comes to us from those agencies, through named and unnamed sources, with no independent confirmation, funnelled through the US MSM.

NPR's national security reporting by Dina Temple-Raskin is probably the worst in this regard. It is hard to find an important source other than the US government in her reporting.

But don't feel superior, conservatives, because FOX was the same way under Bush. And it is still the same way: just a GOP house organ, to an even greater extent than the Times is Democratic.

Read very skeptically, my friends, especially about the things that matter most.

Figless said...

Steve, on this we concur, the media (both sides) has abandoned the very privileged roll it was granted under our constition.

Its truly a shame that the public can no longer rely on reported "news".

Read carefully, indeed, a truly informed individual is one that reads both sides of any issue with an open mind and reaches his/her own conclusion.

Throw out the most radical arguments from both sides as the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Anonymous said...

the same thing is happening in Toronto, Ontario. The big Casino companies want to set up in the downtown of the big city, and the racetracks will lose their share of slot profits. It's all about gaming profits and political donations. Nobody is thinking of the cities: the best place for Casinos is by the racetracks, by the airports. If Casino's are supposedly NOT about getting local residents addicted to gambling, then keep the gambling near the airports.... - Mike in Nassau County

ballyfager said...

The first commenter nailed it. Every liberal on earth whines about the bias of Fox News. But when you mention the equally obvious bias in the other direction they just stand there with their mouths open.

By the way, there's a race of some note in NY tomorrow (this used to be a horse RACING blog).

I like Dullahan.

August Song said...

An unsavory owner and an unsavory trainer, what could be easier than to root against there horse. He was hard used winning the Preakness and figures to bounce.

Cuomo is nothing more than a vindictive ex-mental patient. He has the look.

Figless said...

Baffert has more positive than O Neill according to a published report today, yet he is considered a training genius and good for the sport.

But with IHA now out of the race none of this matters anymore, what a horrible development, just glad the horse will be fine, and after all its all about the horse.

jk said...

I'll Have Another is scratched from the Belmont and retired from racing. Wow.

Anonymous said...

The Times is a leftist propaganda sheet. The paper hates anything conservative and manipulates the news to fit their agenda.

Anonymous said...

Re: Drape/ NYT agenda: this reader views the series as not racing bashing per se, but taking a hard look at what racing has become in recent years: an annual cycle close-your- eyes while you watch nationally televised sporting events that have frequently catastrophic outcomes.
Drape haters may pine for the good ole days of yore (last year) when all trainers were polished professionals ( except perennial piñata R Dutrow of course) who always do right by the horse and breakdowns could be easily waved off with a teary eye and a "took a bad step, these things just happen" explanation.
If The NYT has an agenda here, it may just be that many race fans including this one would like to see American racing devolve away from the see-no-evil, all medication goes catastrophe riddled circus show as presented by Aqueduct just a few months ago, back to what it was meant to be : a respectable way for humans to enjoy the horse in sport.

Anonymous said...

No,the NYT's agenda is to end horseracing.

Anonymous said...

Oh ok. That sounds reasonable.

Anonymous said...

Drape's intentions are not to end horse racing, but it might be, if we refuse to take a good look in the mirror and start doing right by our horses, ALL the time. Haters of this concept keep selling the "fear" that a newspaper and writer have it in for them. Wake up folks and look at things clearly.

John said...

The paper hates anything conservative and manipulates the news to fit their agenda