Erroneous reporting marks a continuing campaign of bigotry against Harvey Milk students
The anti-queer bigots who keep the chairs warm at the New York Post have certainly been busy these days. Wielding insults such as “tranny robbers,” and “trannies,” the right wing tabloid has continued its attack against the Harvey Milk High School.
When five students from that school were arrested for, allegedly, pretending to be prostitutes, attracting customers, then pretending to be cops and demanding cash in exchange for letting those customers go, the Post went to town.
In a November 7 story, Zach Haberman, a Post reporter, did not bother with such niceties as “alleged.” He described the teens as “young thieves” and attributed his facts to unnamed police sources.
The police department, which is not averse to scoring some points off of the beleaguered school, issued a press release detailing the charges against the teens on November 6. The cops then set up a perp walk so that mainstream media could get shots of the 16- and 17-year-old kids as they were paraded in handcuffs out of the 6th Precinct station house in the West Village.
The Post jihad continued with stories on November 8 and 9. The newspaper sent five reporters—Hasani Gittens, Ashley Cross, Alisha Berger, Jennifer Fermino and Murray Weiss—to cover what would otherwise be a routine crime story in New York City.
Of course, crime is not what this coverage is about. The Post is out to get the school and the tabloid made that clear in a November 8 editorial that aligned perfectly with its news coverage.
Citing the recent stories, the Post opined: “We’ve generally opposed the Harvey Milk school, arguing that it was an unhealthy return to segregated institutions—and that, anyway, gay students weren’t the only ones who face harassment… The school shouldn’t exist in the first place. Here’s one more reason to shut it down.”
In October, the Post went after the schools after three of its students, allegedly, were involved in a minor dust up with a Brooklyn man. All four were arrested. (A fourth student was arrested, but the charges were later dropped.)
On October 10, four Post reporters—Murray Weiss, Bridget Harrison, Alisha Berger and Patrick Gallahue—wrote that “Witnesses said around 20 students jumped the man after he hit one kid in the head and threatened others with a screwdriver outside Starbucks Wednesday afternoon.”
Here is the problem with that assertion. Police witnessed the altercation and on October 8 the police press office distributed a statement saying that only five people had been arrested. The next day a police update said “a group of students” and the man had initially argued then “several youths” had fought with him after he threatened them.
In an October 11 story, by Laura Italiano and Heidi Singer, the crowd had come down to “15 bottle-throwing students.” That is also wrong.
According to the October 9 police statement, after the initial confrontation, the Brooklyn man got into his car and drove off, then “Someone threw a bottle at his car.” In other words, one person threw one bottle.
At least the Post was heading in the right direction. This fictional mob of 20 had come down to 15 in just one day. Given enough time the Post might well get to the facts—three kids had a dispute with one man.
The October 11 Post story gets more fictional. Singer and Italiano then quoted Sanford Tarkin, supposedly the Brooklyn man’s lawyer, defending his client. No such attorney is registered with the state, a requirement to practice law in New York, nor could I locate Tarkin.
Singer, who was one of two Post reporters to return calls seeking comment, said the Post’s own library could not find him. She also pointed out that she had done the reporting from Brooklyn while Italiano was at the courts. Italiano did not respond to calls.
But errors, bias, and an obvious anti-Milk school agenda are not the only faults in the Post’s coverage.
William Salzman, the school’s principal, told me that the mainstream reporters who have come to question students outside the school have been “feeding” the answers to their questions to the kids then quoting them.
That’s not a surprise. There are plenty of sleazy reporters working in the mainstream press who are more interested in an entertaining story than the facts. The New York Post has far more than its share of these types.