Thursday, June 16, 2005

Uncommon valor

This is a tale of two cities. In one, a pilot's quick thinking saved his passengers from sinking with their helicopter, after it crashed in the East River; the pilot then jumped into the water and heroically saved a trapped female passenger. In the second, helicopter passengers and the pilot were merely lucky to crash near a harbor police launch.

Both cities happen to be New York. You wouldn't know it was the same event, though, from the drastically different stories painted by the New York Post, which emphasized the pilot's heroism, and the New York Times, which downplayed his actions.

The New York Post properly emphasized the valorous pilot, Yossi Ben-Bassat. The crash could have been far worse. He "averted a catastrophe by immediately inflating the helicopter's pontoons," which did not prevent the helicopter from overturning, but it did save it from sinking. Had it sunk, taking the passengers with it, some or all of them may have drowned. Then a passenger said his wife was still trapped inside the helicopter, so Mr. Ben-Bassat jumped into the dark East River to rescue her.

Meanwhile, the New York Times failed to mention the pilot's heroism in their pitiful reporting. If they emphasized anything, it was how the helicopter company claims to have had no accidents prior but in fact had one. The harbor police "reached the copter in minutes." Minutes? Had Mrs. Butler's life depended on them, she'd have died. Fortunately Mr. Ben-Bassat is a brave man. As a former pilot in the Israeli air force (another thing the Times failed to include), he's exceptionally trained, to be sure. Training, however, doesn't induce his kind of courage.

The Times story shares a Bloomberg quote with the Post, which is not surprising since you'd think it's still the same mayor giving soundbites. But the Post quoted Mayor Bloomberg applauding Mr. Ben-Bassat, something the Times omitted. Weren't the Times reporters paying attention to the other things Bloomberg said, was their quote obtained second-hand, or do they just not like a hero?

Let's remember that the Times can't report too much good news, after all. That would take too much space away from their myth-telling: how bad Iraq is and that it's doomed to perennial chaos, how the economy is about to crash, and how the rich are taking everything from the poor.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

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Friday, October 19, 2007 3:44:00 AM  

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