A New York Moment of Well Deserved Ridicule – Part III

Murdoch’s So-Called Apology: Was He Snickering, Chortling As It Was Being Drafted?
The text of his apology is below, that is, tacked below the original narrative for this column which was planned as the last post on the controversy. I assume that by this date that anyone following this  cartoon tempest has read or reviewed his statement that has brought this loud New York Moment to a close, and the SOB did it in grand form. I was surprised by the sudden deus ex machina. I assume it caught the Reverend Al Sharpton and the other active participants by surprise, especially the persuasiveness of the comment: The buck stops with me.

Did Time say anything about the Post's history of overt racism directed at the black communities of New York

Did Time’s story say anything about the Post’s history of overt racism directed at the black communities of New York?

Sharpton et. al. did a splendid job in their vicious poke at the Post but that’s all it was, a poke. I wish it had been the sharp point of a spear starting a rally.

Snickering, chortling, that’s what I thought that the writer of the “apology” or the person or persons who penned the words ” the Boss himself? I think not” was/were doing as the response was being drafted: Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. I wonder to whom he spoke for his insight. Hurt? No one was hurt, but many were whipped into serious snit by a masterful conjurer who, knowing the Post’s history of denigrating and mocking the black communities of New York, spun a cartoon into a call for action, limited as it was.

Now, if the conjurer extraordinaire could have brought forth soul shaking outrage, like that inspired by Rosa Parks, a myriad would have descended on the Post building at 1211 Sixth Avenue, catalyzing opportunities. That’s how I perceived all this.

Yes, there were reports that the Post switch board was inundated with phone calls. And I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of Post reporters of any color who have to trek into New York’s black communities in the near future, not so much because of possible violence but the derision could be scathing.

Hurt? How condescending.

A boycott? Nope.

A complaint to the FCC? Maybe a visit. Maybe just lunch. But no action here.

Murdoch started it all, and, as the insufferably powerful SOB he is, brought this episode to a close. He started it all? Yep, the buck stops with him for all those years of the Post mocking and denigrating the black communities of New York. The stench of the compost heap where the Post’s reputation resides, at least as far as the black communities of New York are concerned, is irrefutable, emanating from the buck at Murdoch’s door.



[The Original Before Murdoch Showed Up
And Stole the Show]


Here are footnotes for a big picture I can’t grasp. Several days ago, in the evening and night, for example, the TV news media, as it had for several days, reported from outside the New York Post at 1211 Avenue of the Americas that irate demonstrators and the Reverend Al Sharpton, eventually joined by filmmaker Spike Lee (wearing a very snazzy winter jacket), were marching and shouting for a boycott, that the vile publication should be shut down; that the NAACP was in town and was planning to ask certain businesses not to advertise in the Post; etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

So, what?

The Reverend Al Sharpton said he was planning to contact the Federal Communication’s Commission.

So, what?

The marchers as much as viewers, if any of my students of one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse colleges in the CUNY system are any indication of public sentiment in this rich Big Apple milieu of race and gender and class, enjoyed the Post bashing. But there were also those who didn’t. I don’t know how or if the action at 1211 will galvanize any progressive action beyond the few days of hearing broadcasters using the words “racist New York Post” in their deliveries, merely repeating what the demonstrators had been saying, certainly not expressing an opinion but, nevertheless, delivering a pleasureable melody to the ears of many in New York’s black communities.

However, is “racist New York Post” about to be no more than a cliché and not a rallying cry for something more significant.

More Footnotes

As for the NAACP: A lion that has lost its roar. Despite the mainstream broadcasters’ standup deliveries of Guest-Who’s-Coming-to-Town and Guess-What-They Are-Going-to-Do and Guess-What-the-Reverend Al-Is-Up-to-Now, I have to ask, So what? The Post and its hundreds of thousands of admiring readers are suppose trembleing in fear that its poison is about to be diminished?

With all the community activists of color in this five-borough metropolis, the best that can be served up is threat of a lion that cannot roar? Strike fear? Rend flesh (editorial, of course)?

The President of the National Association of Black Journalists criticized the Post in a TV interview snippet for its racist cartoon. I wished she had also denounced the death penalty. The NABJ has refused to sign on with opponents of the death penalty seeking their participation in various actions. When I was interviewing and researching a project about kids on death row, people of color reportedly made up more than 60 percent of death row inmates. In Texas, they are 70 percent.

She could have also sneak in a denouncement of the NYPD for what the New York Civil Liberties Union and Center for Constitutional Rights have shown is its mass harassment of people of color with its stop and frisk policies.

I don’t have time to locate the Village Voice Press Clips column of many years ago describing how the Post and the News provided the Reverend Sharpton the tantamount of unlimited, favorable news coverage albeit short stories about various initiatives planned by his National Action Network. Many of the initiatives never found fruit – and most reporters covering NAA press conferences correctly suspected that they wouldn’t – but that, according to the Voice, didn’t seem to bother the News and Post. The Voice insinuated that the two tabloids perceived the Reverend Sharpton as amusing and colorful and preferred him over serious black activists who couldn’t get the equivalent of a teaspoon of coverage for real initiatives.

Both the Post and the News, however, did do follow-ups on a Newsday report about the Reverend Sharpton being a federal informant for the FBI and U.S. Attorney General’s Office. He tried to drop dimes on his political opponents who were black. Much later, of course, when Sharpton’s stature was being embossed by an impressive national image  Cornell West allowed him what I describe as a blessing and forgiveness.

In the countless stories reporting on the Tawana Brawley extravaganza, I recall Sharpton and activist attorneys Alton Maddox and C. Vernon Mason saying they were using that case to attack racism in the criminal justice system. I and many other black New Yorkers as well as mainstream and community journalists didn’t believe the accounts of her rape even as we imaginatively found ways to maintain respect for the activist trio.

In a war waged against a community, should one be concerned about the fairness of leaders and activists who use propagandistic tools to take on assassins attacking their people? The lack of truth can exact a terrible price. Which is not to say that the later disbarments of Maddox and Mason were related to the subterfuge in the Brawley case (though there are many who believed they were especially targeted because of their roles).

However, their actions did spark this: I watched New York State Attorney General Robert Abrams say in a television interview that racism was a problem in the state criminal justice system and that more needed to be done to address it. As a follow-up to that admission, to show that he was serious, it would have been have been so apropos if Abrams had spearheaded a movement for a reversal of the draconian Rockefeller Drug Laws. But he didn’t.

So, what now?



Snickering, Chortling?

As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me.Â

Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you – without a doubt – that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.

We all hold the readers of the New York Post in high regard and I promise you that we will seek to be more attuned to the sensitivities of our community.

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