Showing posts with label Daily News. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Daily News. Show all posts

Friday, August 28, 2015

Impervious to the horror here in the heart of darkness

The Daily News slapped New York readers in the face Thursday. It slapped them in the face with a still sequence from a snuff video.

I think I know why the editors did that, and I won't outright condemn them for it because the benefit of the doubt says their motives were pure. The benefit of the doubt says  someone who thought that posting images from a snuff film made by a deranged terrorist -- a terrorist in the purest sense of the word -- would boost street sales is a terrible businessman, either that or someone who's calculated that America has reached some sort of psychopathic critical mass.

I don't know. Maybe it has.

I can understand -- maybe -- someone's curiosity getting the better of them and their watching the video. Once. Not a noble curiosity, but a human one nevertheless -- curiosity, after all, is what led Eve to the Tree of Life and a fatal taste of the forbidden fruit.

Alison Parker and Adam Ward
But gazing -- on the subway, at your office desk or over at the Daily News on your living room coffee table -- at the moment a young television reporter from Roanoke, Va., recoiled in terror as a devil with a handgun sent her to God, that is not something a normal person can stand for more than a moment. If that. Even a fleeting glance cannot be unseen.

Merely seeing the aftermath of such evil, such uncut horror, is why so many cops and paramedics end up messed up. Images like the last in the sequence the tabloid put on its front page, here for God and everybody to behold, are the pictures that combat veterans cannot get out of their minds. The moments of death that come to them in their dreams, cause them to awaken screaming in the night and, for some, cause them to blot out the terrible images with a bullet to the brain.

BUT THERE it is on the front page of the Daily News, the moment that gunshots cut down WDBJ reporter Alison Parker, 24. The moment she realized she was going to die. The moment before the gunman killed television photojournalist Adam Ward, 27, and shot a regional chamber of commerce director, Vicki Gardner, who survived.

To look into Alison Parker's eyes is to know her horror.

My hope is that the Daily News editors' intent was to force Americans to realize that the sudden horror that swept over Alison Parker as a fusillade from a Glock semiautomatic pistol began to tear into her body is, in fact, the unremitting horror of a gun-crazy -- no, an increasingly crazy crazy -- nation. An ongoing, largely preventable horror.

My conviction is that, if my hope is well placed, the Daily News editors are deeply naive. You can't argue with crazy people and bought-off politicians, and Americans today are stark, raving mad while their elected representatives, many of them, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the National Rifle Association.

I AM equally convicted that you could ambush seven out of 10 Americans and shoot them in the ass every single day for a year, then on the 366th morning, they would change the dressing on their hamburger buttocks and vow that if they had had an Uzi and eyes in the back of their heads, you never would have gotten the first shot off, you son of a bitch. Americans were not horrified by Columbine enough to insist that the Second Amendment was not drafted so that every citizen could amass an arsenal exceeding that of some small African nations.

Americans were not frightened enough by Virginia Tech to tighten up this country's firearm free-for-all one bit. Ditto for Aurora.

Sandy Hook upset folks a little bit, but it wasn't anything that the NRA and more The Bachelor and Dancing With the Stars couldn't nip in the bud.

By the time a fledgling neo-Confederate massacred nine praying African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church, an angry right-wing nut shot up a movie theater in Louisiana and a disgruntled ex-reporter gunned down his former colleagues in Virginia, we had come to the conclusion that the aftermath of yet another American gun massacre was an inappropriate time to talk about preventing yet more American gun massacres.

Just because we've become a nation of gun-worshiping lunatics doesn't mean we have to be indecorous. That is something best left to Donald Trump and late-night infomercials for herbal male-enhancement pills.

After all, this is America. The only thing we love as much as a big iron on our hip is a big iron in our pants. Fretting over the mounting death toll just distracts us from the important things in life . . . down here in the abyss.

And force-feeding deadly, intimate and graphic things we've no right to gawk at will not, at long last, cause those who live in this heart of darkness to see the light. If you ask me, The Horror is us.

* * *

POSTSCRIPT: I watched the video, alas, because I wanted to get my facts and my chronology straight. As I write, it is either very late or very early -- take your pick -- and I fear sleep, for fear of what I'll dream. God help us all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Celebrities: They're not like you and me

New York Daily News

Is it just me, or do we now put people on TV and in the movies -- and in pro sports and on the radio -- who in earlier days more likely would have been put in jail or in insane asylums for the public (and their own) good?

I think it's now pretty safe to say that Alec Baldwin is a taco or two shy of a combination plate, and that the last place he needs to be is on the big screen at your local megaplex . . . or on the smaller one in your family room. I think it's also pretty safe to say that photographers for the New York Daily News may have signed on for a lot of things, but that orderly on the lockdown floor of the Ha Ha Hotel wasn't one of them.

At least on the lockdown floor, orderlies get to put straitjackets on angry folk who prove a danger to themselves and others.

Behold, Alec Baldwin! One of the people driving our popular culture.

That explains a lot, actually.

P.S.: Baldwin had just gotten a marriage license when he went all Muhammad Ali on the photogs. When Mrs. Favog and I obtained ours 29 years ago, I seem to recall being a lot happier than that.

If anything, I would have given the shutterbugs a hug . . . not a right cross to the chin.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's not the Brooklyn Bridge but, hey. . . .

The New York Daily News didn't sell some petrorube the Brooklyn Bridge. But the tabloid's reporters and editors did something almost as good -- they stole the Empire State Building.

COME TO FIND OUT, it wasn't that tough. After all, it was paper-pushing bureaucrats they were dealing with. The only challenge there would be accomplishing something legit.
The News swiped the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper by drawing up a batch of bogus documents, making a fake notary stamp and filing paperwork with the city to transfer the deed to the property.

Some of the information was laughable: Original "King Kong" star Fay Wray is listed as a witness and the notary shared a name with bank robber Willie Sutton.

The massive ripoff illustrates a gaping loophole in the city's system for recording deeds, mortgages and other transactions.

The loophole: The system - run by the office of the city register - doesn't require clerks to verify the information.

Less than 90 minutes after the bogus documents were submitted on Monday, the agency rubber-stamped the transfer from Empire State Land Associates to Nelots Properties LLC. Nelots is "stolen" spelled backward. (The News returned the property Tuesday.)

"Crooks go where the money is. That's why Willie Sutton robbed banks, and this is the new bank robbery," said Brooklyn Assistant District Attorney Richard Farrell, who is prosecuting several deed fraud cases.

Of course, stealing the Empire State Building wouldn't go unnoticed for long, but it shows how easy it is for con artists to swipe more modest buildings right out from under their owners. Armed with a fraudulent deed, they can take out big mortgages and disappear, leaving a mess for property owners, banks and bureaucrats.
GEE, MAYBE HARD TIMES have brought back "undercover" journalism, which had fallen into disrepute among a generation of journalists -- flush with the gravitas that goes with bringing down a president and all -- who had come to take themselves waaaaaaay too seriously.

Fittingly enough, it was a tabloid like the Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, that
pulled off the last grand "undercover" investigative series. It opened a bar and named it the Mirage. Get it?

I think you know the purpose:
The Mirage was the event that changed everything. The Sun-Times "opened a tavern, staffed it with reporters and photographers, and waited for the city inspectors to come and shake them down. They sardonically called the bar the Mirage, and it drew petty crooks like drought victims to a vision of water."

Series of this magnitude -- the Mirage was 25 days of stories that began on January 8, 1978, preceded by four months in late 1977 of running the bar and many more months of planning -- aren't measured by the good they do. They succeed if they collect the biggest prizes. Mirage was a Pulitzer finalist, but Ben Bradlee of the Washington Post and Eugene Patterson of the St. Petersburg Times argued for its defeat. "The Pulitzer Prize Board decided not to award the Sun-Times the prize because the series was based on deception," Fuller related. "The board concluded that truth-telling enterprises should not engage in such tactics."

This judgment reflected the uneasiness seeping into a business that, after the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, was taking itself especially seriously. "We would not allow reporters to misrepresent themselves in any way, and I don't think we would be the hidden owners of anything," Bradlee told me at the time. Patterson said, "Some felt the Mirage story could have been reported in another way," and he compared the Sun-Times to an undercover policewoman enticing a john.

The Mirage's champion when the Pulitzer board met had been Clayton Kirkpatrick, then the editor of the Tribune. Kirkpatrick argued not merely for the opposition's big story but for a way of journalistic life in Chicago. It was his own paper, in fact, that won three Pulitzers earlier in the 70s for undercover projects. The Sun-Times didn't get into that business until Pam Zekman came over from the Tribune in 1975, bringing the tavern idea with her. The Tribune had said no to it for liability reasons -- the editors imagined the horrible spot they'd be in if someone staggered drunk out of their bar, climbed into his car, and drove into a school bus. Sun-Times editor Jim Hoge said yes.
IT'S MY firm conviction that God not only "don't like ugly," He also don't like snooty. Three years after Ben Bradlee helped to scuttle a Pulitzer for the Sun Times' "Mirage" series, his Washington Post had to give back its Pulitzer.

Perhaps "Jimmy's World" rings a bell. How about Janet Cooke?

Talk about your series "based on deception". . . .