Fox Business Tries and Fails to Capture the Dorothy Rabinowitz Magic


Might the talking heads at Fox Business turn their gaze to the Plaza Hotel’s lawsuit against a nearby Citi Bike station and sneer at the frivolous litigation tying up our courts? Not a chance.

Watch Dorothy Rabinowitz wannabes Melissa Francis and Fred Tecce spend four and a half minutes whipping themselves into faux-libertarian outrage over the installation of bike-share stations on public streets. The gall!

So, yes, Streetsblog is taking the bait and embedding their clip, but when it comes to pageviews, I don’t think this one will come close to matching Rabinowitz, creator of the original and best crazy Citi Bike screed. A few reasons:

  • The catchphrases stink. Dorothy Rabinowitz gave us “the bike lobby is an all-powerful enterprise,” the alliterative “blazing blue Citibank bikes,” and “do not ask me to enter the mind of the totalitarians.” When she said the word “begrimed,” you were transfixed. After watching Francis and Tecce, I came away with some vague images of snails, frogs, and pigs, but nothing really stuck in my head.
  • It’s too canned. The Rabinowitz video was a genuine cri de coeur. She was saying all these insane things, and she really meant them. The Francis and Tecce bit is full of mugging and hamming it up for the camera. It’s got theatrical sighs and forced laughter, but no soul.
  • Reality intrudes. Rabinowitz maintained a consistent internal hallucination from start to finish. In her world, she just had to speak for the silent, bike-share-hating majority. In this Fox Business segment, when Francis acknowledges that she must be in the minority, reality manages to puncture the fantasy.
  • Anonymous

    Awesome critique Ben! I’ll add that the legal analysis of Tecce is ridiculous. We already learned from the bogus PPW lawsuit that the roadway between the curbs adjacent to landmarked sites are not landmarked themselves. And the notion that the people’s access to the Plaza is limited by reducing to two lanes the three-lane-wide, one-block-long roadway in front of the Plaza, that dead- ends on 58th Street and is brimming with excess capacity…

  • Anonymous

    Just out of curiosity, how did we learn from the PPW lawsuit that the roadway is not landmarked? I thought the ruling was only based on the lawsuit being filed too late.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right–judge didn’t reach that issue. What I should have said is, “I learned it” when I researched NBBL’s claims. There’s nothing there.

  • Joe R.

    Say what you will about Dorothy Rabinowitz, but she sold her message from start to finish, mostly because she genuinely believed every word she said. Most of us here may have disagreed with that message, but it wasn’t for lack of trying on the part of Rabinowitz. This piece sounded more like a community board meeting. Sorry, but there’s just no substitute for a genuinely crazy person. My family has more than their share. They may be nuts, but when they talk you can’t help but to listen. You may not believe a word they said, but you come away thoroughly entertained.

  • krstrois

    Beyond everything else, this collapses immediately with the idea of the Plaza as exclusive . . .

  • krstrois

    Beyond everything else, this collapses immediately with the idea of the Plaza as exclusive . . .

  • Anonymous

    What terrifies me is that there are people who are watching this and they are thinking, “What valid points!”

  • QNYC

    There was lots of footage and pictures of the Plaza in this piece. And of CitiBikes around the city. In none of it (correct me if I’m wrong) did I see footage or pictures of the offending CitiBikes in front of the Plaza. In a story about bikes in front of the Plaza. Isn’t that strange?

    First Avenue is a 3 lanes (and a bus lane). I’m positive the Plaza Hotel will survive with just 2 lanes in their city made driveway. Especially since it essentially dead ends into another street and is in no way a major road or way to get to anywhere in the city.

  • Joe Enoch

    Not many. We’re talking about Fox Business.

  • Joe Enoch

    Tecce’s response was basically void of any legal sense. He really proved his expertise in local legislation when he started harping on proving an ecological burden in the form of frogs not being able to hop from Central Park. He lost me there and I’m pretty sure not even he knew what he was talking about at that moment.

  • Anonymous

    When I read Ben’s write-up before watching the video, I thought the bit about “snails, frogs, and pigs” was some kind of metaphor, because what on Earth could those critters have to do with a bike rack in front of the Plaza? But then I watched the video. Man, this guy is crazy, but Ben is right, he’s nowhere near Rabinowitz’s eloquence, which among other things gave new life to the word “begrime”.

  • Ian Turner

    Meanwhile, over at the Mandarin Oriental, Citibikes as entertainment:

  • Anonymous

    Worried about a bridge blocking a view or bike rack across from your building? The horror! Why don’t I hear FOX News talking about all those eminent domain situations where government *bulldozes houses* to put in freeways?

  • Liz Patek

    “she genuinely believed every word she said”

    Which is the exact opposite of these two. I don’t believe for a moment they actually believe what they are saying. Badly scripted. Badly acted. They’re having their “Waiting for Guffman” moment hoping to go viral.

    At least the comments made at community board meetings are as genuine as Dorothy’s (no matter how coherent or incoherent, and whether we agree with them or not). Dorothy gave us her best Norma Desmond. Francis and Tecce merely leave us scratching our heads and uttering ‘meh’.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    I like the idea of putting a bike share in front of Bloomberg’s house (though I have no idea what residence they mean or what neighborhood it’s in). And also I think the language of film criticism is totally the right response to this video – there’s no there there!

  • Anonymous

    Ladies and Gentlemen, all of FOX in two seconds: “weighing the social interest” is “a pain in the butt.”

    If I were in a position that had something to say about it, then yes, I could give a moment of serious attention to a request from The Plaza that, for aesthetic reasons, that rack be moved to another side of that square or something else adjacent. But these two are such stupid, irresponsible assholes, who give not a millisecond to factual, thoughtful, or substantive analysis, and so sadly typify such a large segment of what media the public at large consumes, that my disgust is so great that I couldn’t even listen to what the Plaza might have to say about it.

  • adam white

    There’s lucrative niche of law practice — “eye sore litigation” I wish I had thought of it.

  • Matthias

    For about 10 seconds, he actually talked about weighing the social interest of riding a bike versus pulling your Bentley up to the front door of the Plaza. That was the only sensible part of the diatribe, and it’s clear which one wins out.


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