Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Desperate Reporting on Central Park, July 31, 2006


Cardwell's Desperate Story-Telling on Central Park--Again
July 31, 2006--Diane Cardwell of the New York Times is on another witch-hunt to augment her city desk career. Her latest, a hunt and peck attempt to dissect pieces of email taken out of context constitute another desperate ploy to give her almost-buried stories subversive, national appeal.
The latest is a cut and paste article on her favorite conspiracy theory, that the current Bloomberg administration, including the Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, is hopelessly anti-anti-war and anti-free speech, and that the Parks Department’s refusal to honor large protest requests in Central Park is nothing but a thinly veiled excuse to squash the voices of Democracy.
But if Ms. Cardwell were really the reporter she tries to make herself appear to be, she would have done her homework. But she didn’t.
I should know that Mr. Benepe is not anti-anti-war. First of all he is my brother, so I know. Secondly I remember vividly that we were both engaged from the time we were just out of the womb in our family’s pacifist endeavors. A fact that the quick to point fingers Cardwell neglected to unearth is that both our parents were Quakers, and devoutly anti-war. Our natural born mother, (we have two stepmothers as well) Dr. Jagna Wojcicka-Sharff was Polish and lived during her formative years in Nazi work camps. Imagine a eight-year-old living out her only childhood being taken from her home, stuffed into Nazi train cars like a mule, and living under the sound of air raid sirens until she was about 12. So there is ample room in our family for anti-war sentiment.
This meant that I was barely one when I was hoisted onto the back of my placard waving mother and carted off to an anti-war protest in Washington D.C. At the age of five we were both enrolled in the Bread and Puppet Theater where we constructed enormous anti-war puppets that we lugged to D.C. to protest in the hot sun.
Cardwell’s use of portions of emails taken out of context from an entire conversation, is part and parcel of the art of fabrication. And we know that certain reporters from the NY Times have often engaged in the art of fabrication—why not Ms. Cardwell?
This story is being kept alive since 2004 with the hopes of rattling the bones of more liberal New Yorkers, the ones who read the Times, of which my brother and I are a part.
But the facts are always carefully concealed in Ms. Cardwell’s articles. It cost the city more than $18 million dollars and two years to fix the great lawn, and they have had engineers tell them that it would be destroyed with a certain number of people stomping on it. It was a dust bowl before that, thanks to all the previous abuse.
An orderly, small concert will yield different results as we all know: political protests make people upset, and that is their purpose. Also, the lawn has not been lent out to any parties over a certain number since it was redone in 1999, regardless of political orientation.
The last big march, United for Peace and Justice that hoped to make its way to the park was way over the engineer's people limit. No one in that group would be able to post an insurance bond big enough to cover the costs (nor the time) of redoing the lawn. Presumably a smaller concert would.
It’s amazing that the people who are most keen on using Central Park for their protests—very convenient, nice soft spots of grass to sit on, spots that won’t be grassy after they leave—by and large are not from New York, and will leave once they are done. Why should they care if the lawn is damaged and they can’t use it for the next two years? They won’t be here after all. Nor will they pay for it.
The other really good question is, what is wrong with Queens and Brooklyn, venues that have been offered with real generosity by the city who is under no obligation whatsoever to offer any park to the organizers (for a group which is composed of people, I need to remind you, who are mostly from out of town).
Is it perhaps because they are afraid they the TV trucks from CBS, NBC and ABC that are right around the corner to Central Park may not make it out in great numbers to the outer boroughs?
I thought the New York Sun put these points down well, as did this Great Lawn fact sheet.
Unfortunately, these facts never make it into Ms. Cardwell's reporting. But then, there wouldn’t be a story, would there?

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