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Media Watch

Friday’s Headlines: Daily News Beyond the Pale Edition

Outrageous.

DN wood May 5 2021

We don't typically take the local papers to task for their non-streets coverage, but the Daily News wood yesterday (right) needs to be called out not just for insensitivity towards the mentally ill, but for continuing the narrative that leads to ballooning, rather than withering, NYPD budgets. Allow us to explain.

The front-page story told the sad tale of John Jeremiah, who sneaked his way into the motorman's cab of a J train at the Broad Street station on Wednesday morning and delayed service for 90 minutes. The front-page headline was obviously inspired by this sentence in the news story:

"As the suspect was taken from the station on a stretcher, he continued to shout incoherently about vaccines. He was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, cops said."

And because it happened on May 5 — Cinco de Mayo — the Daily News front page wrote itself. (The Post had it, too, but too late to make the wood.)

Now, look, we're not clutching our pearls because we're fragile flowers; we're tabloid veterans ourselves and, sure, we can even tip our hat to a great pun headline (alas, "Pyscho de Mayo" does roll right off the tongue). And we're certainly not pretending there's no problem with mental illness in our city and in our subway. And we're not suggesting it's not news; a subsequent News story made it clear that there have been several saddening incidents on the subways this week alone.

But an emotionally disturbed person needs help — not tabloid snark. And Jeremiah wasn't even violent, so it's unclear why he needed to be branded with the ultimate epithet in the mental health trade: psycho.

Besides, there was plenty of other violence and carnage this week that didn't get the full tabloid treatment — oh, just the garden variety mayhem like a tow truck driver getting shot, for instance — because it doesn't advance New York Hometown Paper's agenda.

And that's the problem with the narrative. As long as the press treats mentally ill people as ticking time bombs instead of as human beings who need help, society will do what it always does: look the other way and then call in the cops. We all know it's not working, so can we at least agree to, for once, stare into the sclerotic heart of the problem and not avert our gaze by reflexively raising the NYPD budget?

OK, time to get off the soapbox. It's Friday and we need to relax. Our old man editor is having a stress test today, so wish him luck.

In other news:

    • David has (temporarily, at least) triumphed over Goliath: A judge ruled that Joco, the new company that happens to rent bikes through an app rather than a tent on a sidewalk, can keep operating, even though the city claims it's in violation of Citi Bike's monopoly on "bike share." The case will continue on June 16. (NY Post)
    • A $2.49 toll on tailpipe emissions at bridges and tunnels entering New York City could generate $600 million in revenue. (Bloomberg)
    • Justice for Francisco Villalva Vitinio! Cops arrested Douglas Young early Thursday and charged him with murdering the delivery worker who refused to give up his e-bike to the alleged bandit on March 29. (NYDN)
    • World turned upside down department: For the second straight day, former cop Eric Adams was endorsed by a victim of police violence — this time, Sean Bell's father (NY Post). The other day, it was Abner Louima (NYDN).
    • Meanwhile, to think we used to cover Bradley Tusk when he was just a flack for the Parks Department. Now, he's the puppet-master who is going to make an unqualified tech executive mayor. (NY Times)
    • Wethinks Hizzoner doth protest too much. If Mayor de Blasio is so upset at the governor complaining about subway crime, he should ride the subway every day for a month, just to stick it to him (NY Post). It seems like the MTA agrees (amNY).
    • And, finally, Robert Moses has a terrible plan that would have destroyed the French Quarter with a highway — but he wanted to spare the Treme the same treatment. He was overruled in both cases, as this great history piece from Howard Glaser shows. (Empire Report)

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