Guest Column: A Word or Three about Yellow Journalism

By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz

A Word or Three about Yellow Journalism

You should know that the Saturday, October 27th New York Post column“State Dems shaking off scandals in polls” used the photos of three minoritySenate Democrats: Pedro Espada, Jr., Hiram Monserrate, and Shirley Huntleyto highlight corruption in the State Senate.

The New York Post, apparently disappointed with recent polls showingthat New Yorkers want the Democrats to take back control of the State Senate,pointed out how Black and Hispanic Democrats have been indicted, belongin jail, or are accused of corruption. This New York Postarticle includes Senators Malcolm Smith, John Sampson and Eric Adams intheir story, despite the fact that none of these Senators has ever beenindicted of nor found guilty of anything – except being Black.

New York Post readers need to be wary because the Post somehowcontinues to overlook the corruption that is, has been, and continues toexist in the Republican Party by those Senate colleagues.

Lawmakers facing corruption charges are not exclusive to Democrats, norare they exclusive to Black and Hispanic Senators, but the New YorkPost seems to make believe or ignore these facts. It may be thecase that they are using their paper to slant their story or lie to theirreaders.

There are many ways of lying. You can lie by purposely ignoring thetruth or speaking in half-truths. You can lie by only releasing thepart of the story that you want to release. You can lie by makingpeople believe that “this” is the whole truth while you knowingly hidethe rest. You can lie by slanting the truth.

In this case, the New York Post exposes and accuses only DemocraticSenators – highlighting Black and Hispanic Senators – while hiding thetruth that there are at least as many among the ranks of the Republicansin the New York State Senate who have been accused of corruption and havebeen or may belong in jail.

Let’s start at the top.

Republican Senate Leader Joseph Bruno’s corruption was so egregious thatit resulted in the Public Corruption Prevention and Enforcement Act. (I have no recollection of any stronger piece of legislation that resultedfrom the scandalous acts of any Black or Hispanic Senate Democrat.) Judge Gary L. Sharpe chastised Republican Senator Joseph Bruno during sentencingby telling the Republican Senate Leader: “You trampled on the integrityof the State Legislature.”

Disgraced Republican Senator Guy Velella ended his political career inthe New York State Senate after he was convicted of bribery and went toprison.

Republican Senator Vincent Leibell is a convicted felon, guilty of takingkickbacks from a charity he founded which was funded with millions of taxpayerdollars. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and tax evasion.

Republican Senator Nick Spano pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Duringhis sentencing, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “When NicholasSpano took the oath of office, he swore to uphold the law, and yet he didexactly the opposite. There is absolutely no place in government for lawbreakers,and we will continue to do everything within our power to prosecute andpunish them.”

There are calls to investigate Republican Senate Deputy Majority LeaderTom Libous about a downstate law firm hiring his son, which, accordingto a witness in a recent federal corruption trial, was in exchange forthe promise of more business.

Let’s not forget the story about Republican Senator Jim Alesi, who doesn’texactly make the Republican Party shine. Senator Alesi trespassedon a homeowner’s property, fell and broke his leg. Although the ownersdeclined to press charges against him, Senator Alesi proceeded to sue thebuilding contractor, DiRisio Builders. The New York Daily News editorial“State Sen. James Alesi is suing constituents when he should be apologizingfor acting like an idiot” began with the following: “Remember the oldjoke about the kid who murdered his parents, then pleaded for mercy ongrounds of being an orphan?”

While there is so much more to share about the Republican Senate, I willstop here, for now.

I ask my readers to always keep in mind that just because something appearsin a newspaper, in a tabloid, or on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true.I also ask my friends in the media to keep in mind that just because themajority of New Yorkers want to see Democrats control the New York StateSenate doesn’t mean that the New York Post or anyone else shouldengage in the use ugly racial tactics to try to undercut these hopes.

Remember God hates ugly.

This is State Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz and this is what you should know.

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email FOMB08@GMAIL.COM.
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2 Responses to Guest Column: A Word or Three about Yellow Journalism

  1. Dale Benjamin Drakeford says:

    Your response is scholarly and ties to mine (I like to think).


  2. Dale Benjamin Drakeford says:

    Dale Benjamin Drakeford

    In the third debate, we saw both real and connived indignation. The ties in play but still no Susan Rice apology for what she did or didn’t say. Obama wore red and Romney blue (with a clever stripe of gray to court the independent still undecided at bay) but “Candy” (the moderator, addressed in the informal first name manner) wasn’t having any undocumented wardrobe or sugar on debate three day. We witnessed the unprecedented return to a debate site just four years later, but no endorsement of Kirsten Gillibrand (the 9/11 first responders health care champion, same health for the elected as the citizens advocate, full disclosure by the elected of their personal alliances, impatient monitor of Afghanistan withdrawal system shaker).

    The strangest development of the 3rd debate came at the end when Obama described Romney as a “good” person. This took us into the arena of moral philosophy to channel discourse with St. Augustine and other giants of that discipline. Obama cited “family and faith” as reasons, but how can one be “good” if the “good” has a tie to the bad lie, and lie and lie (although Obama called it “Just not true…Just not true…Just not true”)? Obama had information many perhaps did not (of the “Good Deeds” of the contender, and so the pretender was of less import). The deep thinkers of moral humanity can ponder, but we resist being distracted or perplexed by the question, for the real message by Obama, I conclude, is not purely philosophical. It is practical and psychological philosophy, in that the new “good” is only ordinary and the new normal that is ordinary is not good enough for leadership. Not good enough even if they come with private or public good deeds. Therefore if you follow the logic, Romney is not “good” enough for leadership because he is only ordinary “good,” normal capable and regular ready. Our times require more. Our times require the exceptional “good” and gifted capable to navigate the irregular and abnormal that infiltrate our daily lives.

    On Monday October 22, 2012 my remote got a workout flipping between debate number four and game 7 of the NLCS. By the 4th inning the game was not worth watching and the combatants were no longer worth listening to because we had already heard it. The candidate had decided before the fact that they were going to hit their talking points no matter what question was presented. Romney flipped more than my remote, but this time he flipped into Obama’s counter punch and counter-point to “airbrush” right back for how “people will look it up,” and who voters will “decide is more credible.” Give both candidates credit for not mentioning the national pastime World Series (featuring nine players from Venezuela again positioned to provide free heating oil to the elderly, infirmed and poor of this nation despite disconcerting words about their president). Was this unfamiliar skipping of our national sport unintentional or representative of it no longer bearing political capital? It is about time we reversed the nonsense. Give both candidates credit too for not kissing babies (to date). Give both credit for staying the course and taking a cease-fire time-out for the Friar’s Club traditional bash. Then credit given, let us also find resolution.

    Case closed except for Romney’s tie of comfort zone red (with a stripe of blue—hmmm) and Obama in blue (with dots of deeper blue—hmmm). So I buy into Romney being “wrong and reckless” and do not buy Obama as weak. Romney is reckless on his talk about Russia, China and Iran as if the cold war is still relevant. Obama got terrorists. Obama got sanctions. Obama got indigenous training armies to defend nations. Obama spoke bravely on both sides (and multi-sides) of the complex middle-east peace and conflict. There is nothing weak about that.

    Romney said, “You can’t kill yourself out of this mess,” as if Obama created the mess, and then says, he will “Kill enemies,” as if killing has been stopped as a favorite American pastime. Voters have a peaceful decision to make, between someone steady and someone “All over the map,” from Detroit to San Francisco and from Syria to Latin America. Rope-A-Dope is done and the TKO is clear. Dye-The-Tie-the-Map-We-Vie is still in play, but it is only literally fabric, not the tangible stuff of our living soul. Be certain to park the latter with the one that understands what concrete is and will not flip it for silk and satin.

    After the fourth debate the two leading candidates continued to hammer away at the talking points scripted by their advisors. The difference is that one has talking points of a record he stands behind and the other fabrications or at best, half-truths about the record of his competitor, because he refuses to stand by his own. You know which is which. Does anyone really believe that the San Francisco Giants have God and fate on their side because balls are taking strange bounces and bats are hitting balls three times to become doubles instead of outs and cracked lumber still powers a ball out of the strike zone out of the park and a player who normally is voted average is suddenly voted a starting all-star putting up numbers to rival Babe Ruth? Does anyone really believe that “ice-water in his veins” and “fourth-quarter wunderkind New York Giant Eli Manning runs on Dunkin Donuts? The half-truth that Eli Manning may drive a Toyota does not trump the whole truth that he owns a Cadillac Escalade and Corvette.

    Anyone who have read all four of my short sister essays (with a fifth to come) recognize the brotherly connection. It is not the tie, but the human bondage of psychological politics. This is powerful stuff that must be recognized for tangible possibilities. It is scary stuff. It is scary how often we elect the lesser person to high office. It is even more scary how often we come often to electing a lot more. It is not scary like Halloween hosted by Charles Manson or mosquitoes still biting on All Saints Day, but scary in the sense that a supposed First World educated nation can still be duped, in large numbers, by a miracle elixir sideshow, firewater carnival and con-happy commercial.

    It is late in the 4th quarter of national politics and the San Francisco Giants have already pulled-off a sports and TV rating miracle allegedly without the help of steroids. Many small nations have pulled-off political miracles without the help of outside hegemony or psychological trickery. We still lack the positive psychology of a Peter King resignation, but we have proof that the “empty chair” is empty propaganda. We learned in 4th Grade science that “empty” is an illusion and no reverse psychology can change that. Life experience has taught us that people can be an illusion. We are left with a thought of what more will fill the most important chair. Will it be truth or will it be political psychology with mysterious consequences? This is scary stuff. Not scary like the bully on the playground, but like a leader saying, “I will kill our enemies,” because he knows it sounds presidential in our political psyche and demented democracy. It is especially scary because he never stops to think why we have enemies, and when others do, he makes them out to be apologists or unpatriotic. I find non-thinking sound bites shouted by leaders scary. I find operational definitions scary when they require human sacrifice.

    In his new book, When Can You Trust The Experts? Daniel T. Willingham offers a tool by which to objectively tell “good science from bad in education” and assess would-be persuaders (in my view, in any discipline). I have my CAR and he has his “Flip it and Strip it,” and when something does not hold water when you turn it upside down, dump it. If it sounds too familiar (like warmed over Ronald Reagan) bag it. If it has nothing but bones once you lay it bare, do not consume it. So when Romney says, “Iran is four years closer to nuclear,” the flip it and strip it is to know that that truth has nothing to do with solutions, no more so then America is four years closer to the ultimate weapon to destroy the entire planet. Some things are designed to scare us into compliance or purchase, Willingham cautions and we would be wise to equip ourselves to defend against such psychological mind-fare. Another example is No Child Left Behind (NCLB). It sounds altruistic, but when analyzed, it leaves reasonable practical sense behind (as in public financed vouchers, private money-making charter schools and merit pay for administrators). Still another example is Right To Work laws active in almost half the states. The title alone suggests liberty and freedom not be disputed, but “the right to work” movement when flipped and stripped of its psychological appeal is really about disenfranchising workers and dismantling unions. When Darnell Minor flipped and stripped RTW in his “study of seven measures” (see he found RTW lacking in all including state GDP, poverty rates, health and life expectancy of workers. When you flip it and strip it, RTW becomes a right to die earlier, a right to be poorer and a right to less health care and life quality. It still sounds good, Right To Life, but when we lay it bare, the bones starve us and choke us to death more often than it does not. So with would-be persuaders, flip what they say (Romney should like that) strip it of its psychological message lacking measurement, analyze it for what is familiar (and therefore stolen) and leave it to be bought or rejected based on the substance that is left. When you do that your emotions are put in check and your intelligence is put in motion. Romney supports NCLB and RTW even after the greatest minds have laid them bare for what they are.

    Timing counts. Colin Powell’s endorsement of Obama following the 4th debate was like a ninth inning first in a one run game. Even if it is not a first strike, it is a game changer as to what is thrown next. Powell’s pitch put color in play above the artificial turf. It was always in play beneath the nature of human-kind, but now in was put in full view—not the red versus blue, but the white versus black (and the psychology of color battered by our wishful rainbow). After-all, Powell is the legendary W disciple reverse pitching for the other team. For the critics like Sununu however, this was not reverse psychology but racial profiling. More important, it spurred a new interest in race-based polls specifically for the color extremes. The polls clearly showed a racial divide greater than any other American national election. All are involved and many are taking note (see Michael Benjamin’s “flip it” piece on the New York Post). It can be disheartening, but when we flip it and strip it, the polls and the pundits empower a human interest in dissecting banter for the greater truth higher than ever before. Go with that.


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