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Thursday’s Headlines: Catastrophic Lies Edition

Huh? National news was obsessed with a story that likely wasn’t even a tiny bit true.

The day began with a preposterous series of stories in the national and gossip press: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had been involved in a "near catastrophic crash" on Tuesday night when chased by paparazzi for two hours after an event at an undisclosed location, the couple's spokesperson had announced.

We were sitting at our desk and knew something smelled — and it wasn't last night's tuna casserole returning as this morning's breakfast.

Our old man editor — who has been covering car crashes and royalty in New York City for three decades — went on Irish radio to tell anyone who would listen that the story was at least 90 percent daft. (Kuntzman was wrongly ID'd as the "breaking news editor at Newsweek — a position that's at least four jobs, and two lifetimes ago, but still...) Mayor Adams also shared Kuntzman's skepticism early in the day.

By the end of the day, we learned more or less the truth: Something did happen to the ex-Highnesses, but it certainly wasn't a two-hour, near death chase.

The Daily News and the Post interviewed the couple's cabbie, and the resulting story sounded pretty much like ... a normal cab ride. The Post put five reporters on the story only to conclude (obvs) that "the supposed ordeal wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the couple claimed." The Times used four reporters to do its usual "good people on both sides" approach to news, concluding, unsatisfactorily, "As more details emerged on Wednesday ... the picture became more complicated." (Is it? The spare over-reacted. Done.)

In other news:

  • The other big story was the MTA's weird media strategy on fare evasion. First, after dodging our calls on Tuesday, the agency gave a scoop to the Daily News — a report that claims the agency loses close to $700 million every year to all manner of fare evaders (both in subways, on buses and in cars). The Post, Gothamist, Hell Gate and amNY also covered.
  • The Daily News also reported that the MTA is, indeed, testing new turnstiles to reduce underground "fare evasion," a term that writer Adam Johnson hates:
  • Crain's had a great scoop about how Madison Square Garden will again profit from what should not be its to profit from.
  • Reckless driving killed a teen in Queens. (NYDN)
  • Speaking of reckless driving, the Daily News and The Brooklyn Paper, like Streetsblog, covered the sentencing of Tariq Witherspoon, who killed beloved teacher Matthew Jensen in a 2021 hit-and-run. News legend John Annese also focused on the disappointingly short sentence. (Our coverage also had rare inside-the-courtroom photos — because we know some old tricks.)
  • The NYPD budget is even bigger than you think. (amNY)
  • Delivery workers don't want to be using unsafe batteries, you know. (Gothamist)
  • Oh, god, now the dead are coming for your parking spaces! (The City)
  • Rule of law — or even the basic order of law — apparently means nothing to presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, who wants a guy who killed a man on the subway to be pardoned ... before he's even convicted (NY Post). Meanwhile, the Times looked at straphangers who failed to intervene in the death of Jordan Neely. Hell Gate focused on the subway riders who know the score.
  • Speaking of Hell Gate, the upstart outlet had a crazy story about a Citi Bike rider who was banned for no reason ... then restored (Hell Gate gets action!)
  • And, finally, this is why our old man editor's dream of opening a shticky dinner theater never came to fruition. But someone else's will! (NY Times)

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