Convenient to Forget Dept.:
The New York Times, reporting on controversy over whether the term “blighted” truly describes the bustling neighborhood around Penn Station, left out the Times Company’s own messy history in the annals of disputed condemnations.
Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to raze several blocks around Penn Station and Madison Square Garden to make room for new office towers that supposedly would pay for a “new” Penn Station.
The Times cited some furiously contested past uses of eminent domain — such as for Barclays Center in Brooklyn, for Columbia University in West Harlem, and “a section of Times Square… as part of a lengthy effort to rebuild and sanitize the district.”
But guess what the story didn’t mention? That an entire Eighth Avenue blockfront fell to state condemnation soon after 2000 — when scores of viable stores, businesses and residents were evicted — to make way for the Times’ own new headquarters tower between West 40th and 41st Streets.
Those seizures were entirely separate from the Times Square condemnations that preceded it.
The land-grab was opposed by many landlords and tenants although the Times, its development partner Bruce Ratner and the state prevailed in court.
The Times’ numerous editorials opposing “corporate welfare” never mention the breaks that the company and Ratner enjoyed — nor the lowball price the Times and Ratner were allowed to pay those who were evicted.
As I wrote in 2010, such omissions by the Times smack not of amnesia, but “of a willful strategy to keep its readers in the dark.”