Tuesday, January 17, 2017

200,000-plus protesters will speak for many millions more

Cartoonist Gary Varvel portrays Friday's inauguration of President-elect Donald J. Trump  as a moment from "Celebrity Apprentice." Other political cartoonists gave the ceremony a sinister twist.


For commentary on today's edition of The Record and the protests expected in Washington, D.C., please see:

THE SASSON REPORT


-- VICTOR E. SASSON

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Editors finally acknowledge issues, not politics, matter most

Cartoons from John Cole on Meryl Streep's criticism of President-elect Donald J. Trump , above, and Rick McKee on President Obama's legacy, below.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Though many months too late, The Record deserves credit for launching a series on "15 issues important to North Jersey residents" that could be affected by the administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump.

No matter that "Trump Tracker" echoes "Christie Tracker." 

That was the Matt Katz series on our very own GOP bully, Governor Christie, that ran for a couple of years on WNYC-FM, the New York and New Jersey public radio station.

And readers also know that if the Woodland Park daily and all of the other news outlets across the country had been focusing on issues during the campaign, the outcome of the 2016 presidential election would have been far different.

Instead, the news media delighted in repeating every sensational, unsubstantiated charge against Democrat Hillary Clinton, and ignoring her decades-long service to families ad children.

Five-part series

Today's "Trump Tracker" installment focuses on immigration, train transportation and health care (1A, 8A and 9A).

Editor Rick Green doesn't explain why the transportation segment leaves hundreds of thousands of New Jersey bus commuters out in the cold (8A).

The other issues -- including homeland security, education, taxes, the environment, social-safety net and infrastructure -- are scheduled to run through Thursday, the day before the inauguration (8A).

Politics as usual

Sadly, it's politics as usual at the bottom of Page 1 today, with yet another Political Stile column on Christie:

"Christie leans left in N.J., 
but keeps door open on right"

Readers also are keeping their bathroom doors open, in case they get the sudden urge to throw up.

Local news?

On the Local front, Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski appears to be telling drivers they have two and a half months to "read, eat, drink, groom themselves and use hand-held devices to ... talk, text or find their way" before an April police crackdown (1L).

In Opinion, an editorial notes Paterson remains "among New Jersey's most violent places" despite an overall drop in crime (2O).

"Homicides held steady at 19, the same as in 2015, while the number of rapes increased" to 57 from 42, according to the editorial.  

The editorial is incorrect in saying rapes "increased from 42 to 57 percent." 

A year ago, another editorial on the overall drop in crime credited Police Director Jerry Speziale while letting him off the hook on curbing gun violence and the drug trade. 

Today's editorial doesn't even mention  Speziale or the undercover state police troopers who have been helping Paterson police.

Korean food crawl

The Better Living cover on a Korean food crawl in Palisades Park should have been labeled, "For carnivores only" (1BL and 3BL).

By using Robert Austin Cho, owner of a Korean barbecue restaurant, as her guide, Staff Writer Sophia Gottfried largely omitted all the great non-meat dishes -- heart-healthy seafood, tofu and vegetables -- served in Korean restaurant in Palisades Park and neighboring Fort Lee, which isn't even mentioned.

And with Cho in tow, Gottfried also managed to keep the secret of the vast majority of Korean restaurants -- they serve low-quality beef and pork raised on harmful antibiotics and growth hormones to boost their bottom lines.

Fewer stories?

Since the November redesign of The Record, many readers have complained there are fewer stories in the paper.

There was a good reason for that on Saturday, when an upbeat Page 1 story explained how teenagers are coping with life in crime-ridden Silk City:

"Paterson students
outsmart crime
through use of 
technology"

The story reported these geniuses developed "a cellphone application that would send an alert to school security staff if students diverted from their normal route home from school."

If readers turned to the continuation page (Saturday's 4A) and read the story to the end, they found the entire story was repeated -- all 23 paragraphs.

How's that?

On Saturday's Local front, this headline puzzled many readers:

"Hospital
manager
gets 6 
months"

But the story had nothing to do with the sentencing of a human to jail or prison.

"Manager" referred to a company that manages Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus, and the "6 months" is how long its contract has been extended.

This is high-school level journalism, plain and simple.

For that, you can thank the payroll-slashing Gannett Co. -- owner of seven New Jersey dailies -- and the morons employed in a centralized Neptune design center.

Friday, January 13, 2017

In nasty health-care battle, racism is rearing its ugly head

From cartoonist Steve Sack, a Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning in 2013, on the "Russian hookers rumor" dogging President-elect Donald J. Trump a week before he is inaugurated.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

A black journalist strongly suggests racism is behind the attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act or what Republicans curse as "Obamacare."

"Neither President Obama nor his detractors saw political advantage in discussing the Affordable Care Act as an anti-poverty or racial-justice program, but it is both of those things," Kai Wright reported today on WNYC-FM, a National Public Radio station based in Manhattan.

"Between the January 2014 launch of new coverage options and ... that August, the nation's public-insurance program for the working poor grew by roughly 7 million people.

"As of this summer, it had gone up by more than 10 million," Wright said in a story adopted from one he wrote for The Nation's special issue, The Obama Years.

"The Affordable Care Act overall has likely saved hundreds of thousands of black lives, and it has certainly produced one of the most significant advances in racial equity on record:

"By the end of 2014, in just one year's time, it had entirely erased the disparity in health coverage between white and black kids," Wright said.

Media coverage

Like many news outlets, The Record repeatedly refers to the Affordable Care Act as "Obamacare," adopting a favorite pejorative used by Donald J. Trump during his Republican presidential campaign.

Tea Party radicals compared the health-care law to the Holocaust, but Republicans failed repeatedly to have the 2010 law declared illegal.

Now that Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election, Republicans who control Congress have begun the process of repealing the health-care law, which provides coverage to 20 million Americans who didn't have insurance.

But Trump and Republicans have been careful to avoid saying just how many of those Americans are black and Hispanic or what will replace the health-care law.

Medicaid expansion

In The Record today, the last two paragraphs of an Associated Press story on 6A reports the law "steered billions of [federal] dollars to states [including New Jersey]" to expand "the Medicaid health program for the poor."

"The health care law does have problems, but independent experts say it's an exaggeration to call it a total failure," according to the AP.

The Record and other media have found it far easier to quote critics of the health-care law than to actually do any reporting about the coverage.

My experience

More than eight years after I left The Record, I am paying slightly less for health insurance for my wife and son, purchased on the federal marketplace, than I did in the years after I became eligible for Medicaid.

I had to purchase their coverage from North Jersey Media Group until I was able to buy policies for them under the Affordable Care Act.

Food confusion

On the Better Living cover today, a headline declares:

"Most Anticipated Restaurant
 Openings in 2017"

But readers turning to the centerfold find only five restaurants listed, which would mean no other restaurant opening in the next 11 months is among the "most anticipated" (10BL and 11BL).

Meanwhile, the headline over the story is totally different:

"New Restaurants To
Look Forward To In 2017"

To add to the confusion, the dish pictured on the cover isn't identified, as it usually is, on 2BL, where readers are told:

"On the cover: There have been plenty of new restaurants that have opened in North Jersey in the past few months."

All of this sloppy work appears under the byline of The Record's food editor, Esther Davidowitz.
  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Christie wants better health care for addicts than rest of us

Today's New York Post cover on President-elect Donald J. Trump's reaction to rumors the Russians have compromising information about him.
A Daily News front page from October. Just think. In eight days, the man who said this about women will be sworn in as president of the United States.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Record's short memory for how Governor Christie tried to sabotage the Affordable Care Act in New Jersey is a disservice to readers.

Today's Page 1 story on Christie demanding that health insurers cover treatment of drug addicts for up to six months ignores how he refused to set up a state exchange when the federal health-care law took effect a few years ago (1A).

That reduced New Jersey residents' choice of insurers, compared to New York and other states where governors set up exchanges for the purchase of health policies.

New Jersey residents, along with those in more than 30 other states with Republican governors, were thrown into the overburdened federal marketplace, leading to confusion and delay. 

Trumped-up charges

At a news conference on Wednesday (1A), President-elect Donald J. Trump refused to answer a question on whether anyone connected to him or his campaign "had any contact with Russia leading up to or during the presidential campaign," as The New York Times put it.

"The country needs a clear answer," The Times said in an opinion column today.

Meanwhile, a Record editorial on President Obama's farewell address to the nation from Chicago lists only the Affordable Care Act among his accomplishments in office (8A).

Take a look at a list from Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who noted "all of this was accomplished in the face of unprecedented obstruction from Republicans bent on ensuring his failure."
"Last night, President Obama reminded us just how much we have accomplished working together during his administration:
  • Bringing our economy back from the brink of a great recession
  • Saving the auto industry
  • Guaranteeing marriage equality for all
  • Providing health insurance for 20 million more Americans
  • Restoring relations with Cuba
  • Addressing climate change with the historic Paris Agreement"
Local news?
Staff Writer John Cichowski, whose grip on reality has been the subject of speculation for years, continues to stray far from his commuting beat (1L).
The so-called Road Warrior begins his column with a man whose enormous Cadillac Escalade broke down on the New Jersey Turnpike, but who rolled up a $1,500 storage bill because he waited two weeks before he went to get it.
Then, the column devolves into a quiz, including a question on which New Jersey city runs its own subway. 

None of this helps North Jersey commuters, who fight over rush-hour seats on trains and buses into Manhattan or face increasing traffic congestion at the Hudson River crossings.