Buried on page 3 of today's Metro section (and apparently absent from the national edition entirely) is the NYT's first whisper of the financial scandal at left-wing radio network Air America. The crack NYT staff got to the story less than three weeks after the New York Daily News first picked up on it July 26.
Not that the headline or subhead of the Times' story actually mention "Air America." Instead it reads: "Bronx Boys Club's Finances Investigated -- Officials Look Into Loans Made to a Liberal Radio Network." The two words "Air America" presumably couldn't fit into that 15-word space.
Reporter Alan Feuer picks up the scandal from the boys club end, not emphasizing the juicy Air America angle: "The state attorney general's office and the city's Department of Investigation are looking into whether a boys and girls club serving poor children and ailing elderly people in the Bronx had improper financial dealings, including loans to the Air America radio network, state and city officials said yesterday. The separate investigations are trying to determine whether the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club, run from an office in Co-op City in the Bronx, made improper loans of up to $875,000 to the radio network, known for its liberal programming and hosts like the comedian Al Franken, the officials said."
And Michelle Malkin points out there's a curious piece of quote missing from Feuer's story. Feuer quotes a transcript made by New York City's Department of Investigation on Monday featuring Al Franken talking about Evan Cohen, the former chairman of the board of Air America at the center of the "loan" controversy: "I don't know why he did it. I don't know where the money went. I don't know if it was used for operations. I think he was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul."
But Malkin points to blogger Brian Maloney, who broke the story among the blogs and has an audio file of what Franken actually said (quoted material missing from the Times in italis): "I don't know why they did it, and I don't know where the money went, I don't know if it was used for operations, which I imagine it was. I think he was robbing Peter to pay Paul."
Malkin explains: "The omission of those five little words matters because Al Franken's actual statement suggests that the money was in fact stolen from poor kids to pay Air America's bills -- a speculation that the Times attributes to 'conservative-leaning blogs,' but not to the Times' favorite liberal talk show host who said it himself." Whether the fault for the deleted words lies with the city's transcript or the Times itself isn't known.
But there's no disputing the Times' double standard when it comes to the travails of left-wing talk show hosts as opposed to conservative ones. When Rush Limbaugh announced his addition to prescription painkillers on his October 10, 2003 radio show, it made the front page of the New York Times the very next day, and the paper followed up with several stories referencing Limbaugh's addiction.
In a twist, the last Times story on Air America, from June 15, dealing with Al Franken's Senate prospects (yes, you read that correctly), allowed the left-wing talker to criticize Limbaugh's addiction.
Read more at Times Watch.