Last week in the New York Times
RON HOWELL | 4/12/2011, 4:47 p.m.
Last week, the New York Times ran a story saying that the New York City Police Department was doing all it could to keep cops from firing back at gunmen who shoot at them.
The paper offered the case of Derek Gallo, a guy from Bensonhurst who went a little berserk recently and sent a barrage of eight bullets into the streets of his neighborhood, as police officers hid behind cars showing valiant restraint.
Gallo was eventually arrested and politely escorted to secure confines.
The episode, said the Times, showcases "the kind of restraint that police officials say is far more the norm" than incidents like the shooting of Sean Bell in 2006 and Amadou Diallo in 1999.
Almost unbelievably, the Times story about Derek Gallo was placed just above an article on Angel Alvarez, who miraculously survived an onslaught of 46 police shells that left 27 holes in his body as police tried to break up a block party in Harlem.
It's almost embarrassing to have to say something so obvious, but I'll say it anyway.
City police have historically treated Harlem, Bed-Stuy, the Bronx and Black Queens a little more aggressively than they've treated, say, Bensonhurst--and, no, unfortunately, racial profiling has not disappeared with the election of Barack Obama.
If I were to read that New York Times story to Black and Latino males, say, in a city high school, the reaction would range from stifled cursing ( la Cee Lo Green's "Ain't That Some Sh__") to uncontrollable laughter.
It's entirely possible that the Times really doesn't care about the reaction of young Blacks and Latinos. After all, those youngsters aren't part of the paper's "demographic," the cohort of readers it aggressively seeks in order to draw advertisers.
But a bevy of adults, including devoted Times readers, might question its credibility on other stories.
Take the piece from Dec. 9, 2010, which said that Mayor Michael Bloomberg had reportedly tried to hire Harlem educator Geoffrey Canada as schools chancellor. This seemed to me like a Bloomberg-planted article, designed to offset the anger and scorn he faced after appointing Cathie Black to the position.
Bloomberg clearly wanted people to believe he had initially approached someone other than Black, who was singularly, almost embarrassingly, unqualified for the job. And so an obvious person to float as his "real choice" was Canada, a star Harlem charter school executive with a master's degree from Harvard.
But the contention that Bloomberg went to Canada first, and that Canada turned him down, is not credible. Canada is an ally of the mayor and, what's more, is the beneficiary of hundreds of thousands of dollars that the mayor has contributed to Canada's Harlem Children's Zone through the Carnegie Corporation of New York. I think that, if the mayor seriously wanted Canada, he could have got him.
In backing up its story, the Times cited sources "with direct knowledge" who refused to give their names, while Canada himself declined to answer with a clear yes or no--a very wise move, especially if the truthful answer was "no," given the huge amount of money Bloomberg has contributed to Canada.