NYT Pulls Misleading Account of Palin Puck Dropping Ceremony

October 12th, 2008 3:15 PM

The New York Times took the unusual step of quickly editing and replacing a hysterical post by hockey blogger Lynn Zinser that covered Sarah Palin's appearance at the Philadelphia Flyers home opener where she was invited to drop a ceremonial puck. In her original post Zinser exaggerated the boos by the crowd, attacked Flyers owner Ed Snider for inviting Palin to the event and appears to have fabricated the discomfort felt by NHL players Scott Gomez and Mike Richards.

That account has since been changed. Somewhere along the line Zinser gutted the original article and replaced  it with a new one that came a bit closer to reality. However the repost didn't occur before the original article shot across the internet where it was eventually picked up by Greg Mitchell at Editor & Publisher and flogged as a "political scoop". (update below: Rangers Scott Gomez voting for McCain-Palin)

The biggest problem: when Palin came out to onto the Wachovia Center ice Saturday night — greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd — the the two hockey players who had no choice but to appear with her in that photo op were turned into props in a political campaign. If Rangers center Scott Gomez or Flyers center Mike Richards wanted to make some sort of political statement, that would be fine, but in this case, they were thrust into a situation not of their choosing. Snider put them there with his ill-advised mixing of politics and sports.
The level of discomfort has been palpable for the Rangers’ two Alaska natives, Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky, as they have been asked questions about Palin and the election in recent weeks. Dubinsky, a 22-year-old who has shied away from nothing since he broke in with the Rangers last year, looks petrified when the topic gets brought up. I think both would rather play goalie in a shootout than weigh in on the presidential election.
Don't bother looking for these paragraphs in Zinser's latest version at the New York Times. They have been replaced by the following:
While Philadelphia fans are known for not being shy about voicing disapproval, the question has been raised — including by me in an earlier version of this post — whether the appearance was appropriate at a sports event like this.

To explain why the article changed from its original politically laced attack to this watered down version I will use the medias favorite new political tool, the "fact check".

Claim: "Palin came out to onto the Wachovia Center ice Saturday night — greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd"

Fact: While the crowd did initially boo Sarah Palin those boos were quickly drowned out by applause as she took to the ice. Even the Associated Press noted this occurrence in their coverage.

The Alaska governor and self-described "hockey mom" heard a few boos when she walked onto the ice, but that soon turned to polite applause as she headed to center ice with Mike Richards of the Flyers and Scott Gomez — from Alaska — of the Rangers.
Palin waved to the crowd and smiled as she dropped the puck to applause and cheers. Palin stuck around and watched two periods in the Rangers' 4-3 win over the Flyers.

Claim: Rangers center Scott Gomez and Flyers captain Mike Richards displayed "palpable" levels of discomfort by being thrust into a situation not of their choosing and having to answer questions concerning Sarah Palin.

Fact: This claim is not supported by the facts.

Scott Gomez was interviewed a month ago concerning statements Barack Obama made comparing Sarah Palin to a pig.

So what does Gomez think about Obama's controversial quote? The 28-year-old center from Anchorage likens politics to a good old-fashioned hockey brawl. "It's politics, man - throw the gloves off," said Gomez, who joined four of his teammates at the Garden Friday to unveil artists' renderings of the new Rangers locker room and fitness center that are part of a planned $500 million renovation of the Garden. "You can't take it personal. We're Alaskans ... we don't let things bother us. I'm sure (Palin) could handle it.
"I've met her once at an event couple of years ago," Gomez added. "It doesn't matter if you're voting for her or not. If you're Alaskan, you have to be proud."
Gomez repeated his pride in an interview last night and was followed up by Mike Richards in a similar statement. 
"Politics aside, as far as someone coming from the home state, in the position she's in, as a fellow Alaskan, yeah, you're proud," Gomez said.
Added Richards: "It's nice to see someone like that appreciate hockey."

They sound pretty comfortable to me.

As a hockey coach and player I imagine that these guys just want to play hockey but understand that marketing is very much a part of professional sports. Making appearances at puck dropping ceremonies is part of the game. No big deal. For some it might even be an honor.

But if I were to wager a bet about the general feeling hockey fans have toward Sarah Palin I would imagine it along the lines of military support for McCain, which is overwhelming. They identify with each other; it is that simple. The "Hockey Mom" phenomenon is a reality for many players and Palin is a hockey mom. Get over it. 

Claim: The setting of a National Hockey League game is an inappropriate place for political statements and presents a conflict of interest. The inference is that Palin's appearance it is a cheap political stunt that should not be allowed.

Zinser again:

"Having vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin drop the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers’ opener Saturday night was problematic not because it was Palin — Flyers owner Ed Snider’s decision under the flimsy excuse of 'honoring' hockey moms — but because it is injecting politics in a place it should not be.

Fact: The NHL disagrees.

The NHL said it did not view the Flyers' invitation to be politically motivated.
"Governor Palin is a supporter of the sport, which she has proclaimed publicly," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. "As a public figure who has a very public connection with hockey, her recent associations with the Flyers and other NHL franchises is not surprising and, in our view, not inappropriate."

A further analysis of this claim shows the hypocrisy of liberal news reporters that reserve criticism for Republicans but heap praise on Democrats when partaking in the same sort of appearance.

Case in point, I don't recall seeing too much hand wringing by the media when Barack Obama played basketball with the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in August.

Note that UNC is a public institution, much more likely to be influenced by Barack Obama than a privately owned sports teams. 

Claim:  The appearance of this article by Lynn Zinser was some sort of "political scoop". 

Fact:  There is some merit to this statement, but not in the way meant by Greg Mitchell and repeated by the Huffington Post.

The real scoop is that the media, as exemplified by the likes of Lynn Zinser of the New York Times, is practicing the sort of politically motivated attack against conservatives that seeks to limit points of view that are not in line with the liberal world view.

With screams of sheesh, gosh and other unmentionables the left has taken on the personality traits of propagandists and political oppressors that seek to stifle free speech. No longer looking to discuss the merits of criticism or even bother to do more than a cursory examination of the issues, the media has relegated itself to being nothing more than a complimentary mouthpiece for Barack Obama.


The claims made by Zinser were over the top and misleading. They were supported less by fact and more by fiction. Lynn Zinser took the path most traveled, using the initial boos by left leaning Philly fans as a springboard to fabricate a narrative that is out of line with reality.


Rangers center Scott Gomez is actually voting for John McCain partially because of his pride for Sarah Palin. This is probably yet another reason why Zinser had to scrub the original article.

Rangers center Scott Gomez, ready to face his former Devils teammates in Saturday's preseasion game at Madison Square Garden, is backing Republican presidential candidate John McCain at least partially because of running mate Sarah Palin.

"I'm not swaying anyone on how to vote," Gomez said, "but as far as (Palin) coming from my home state of Alaska, I've got to be proud of her."

Gomez said he has met Palin once and will vote via absentee ballot.

"I remember when I signed my first big contract," Gomez recalled. "My father is a Democrat and I asked him who we vote for. He said: 'You were raised a Democrat, but by signing that contract you've just become a Republican.' "

Also: Stu Hackel of the New York Times enters comment section to defend Zinser.They do not like to be questioned.

Terry Trippany is the publisher of Webloggin and holds the post as The Watcher at Watcher of Weasels. All emphasis is mine throughout.