OLD Media Moves

Top 10 NYT mistakes for 2005 includes biz story

January 1, 2006

The Web site Timeswatch.org posted its top 10 mistakes made by the New York Times in 2005. Checking in at No. 6 was this business story that should have appeared in the business section sometime during the year:

#6 Ignoring Air America

The local New York Sun reported August 1 on the emerging scandal at the
left-wing radio company Air America. “The top executive at a Bronx youth
organization said yesterday that the former director of Air America Radio
received more than $800,000 in loans for himself and the radio network from
the nonprofit organization while serving as its development director. Some
of the transfers, according to the president of the Bronx-based Gloria Wise
Boys & Girls Club organization’s executive committee, Jeannette Graves,
occurred when the development director, Evan Montvel Cohen, who for a time
served simultaneously as the liberal radio network’s director, appealed to
the organization for two loans worth $35,000.”

And what did the Times have to say? Well, not much. As columnist
Michelle Malkin wrote, “Air America’s pom-pom squad at the New York Times
remains silent.”

After two weeks of no story, even some liberal outlets took notice of
the paper’s silence. The website for the Columbia Journalism Review wondered
where the big name papers were: “What do you get when you cross a
controversial liberal media outlet, the continuing fingerprints of its
former director who resigned in disgrace, and hundreds of thousands of
dollars apparently skimmed from a local non-profit that cares for
disadvantaged youth and the elderly? Well, one would think you would have a
story with all the elements to at least make the business pages of the major
dailies — but then, one would be wrong.”

The August 12 Times finally acknowledged the financial scandal in a
story buried on page 3 of the Metro section that didn’t even make the
paper’s national edition.

Not that the headline or subhead of the story actually mentioned “Air
America.” Instead it read: “Bronx Boys Club’s Finances Investigated —
Officials Look Into Loans Made to a Liberal Radio Network.” The words “Air
America” presumably couldn’t fit into that 15-word space.

By contrast, when the conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh
announced his addition to prescription painkillers on his October 10, 2003
radio show, it made the front page of the New York Times the very next day,
and the paper followed up with several stories referencing Limbaugh’s

When the Times finally ran another Air America story, it was a puff
piece on the network’s female “rising star” hosts Randi Rhodes and Rachel
Maddow, headlined: “They Look Nothing Like Rush Limbaugh — As women and
lefties, Air America’s rising stars are rarities in talk radio. But perhaps
not for long.” Not until the seventh paragraph did the Times briefly dip
into the scandal.

To read all of the top 10, go here. Ignoring the partisan politics of the Web site, I’ve got to wonder what happened with this story.

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