From the November 10 edition of MSNBC's Countdown:
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Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports (emphasis added):
The New York Post editor fired after speaking out against a cartoon depicting the author of the president's stimulus package as a dead chimpanzee has sued the paper. And as part of her complaint, Sandra Guzman levels some remarkable, embarrassing, and potentially damaging allegations.
Guzman has filed a complaint against News Corporation, the New York Post and the paper's editor in chief Col Allan in the Southern District Court of New York, alleging harassment as well as "unlawful employment practices and retaliation."
As part of the 38-page complaint, Guzman paints the Post newsroom as a male-dominated frat house and Allan in particular as sexist, offensive and domineering. Guzman alleges that she and others were routinely subjugated to misogynistic behavior. She says that hiring practices at the paper -- as well as her firing -- were driven by racial prejudices rather than merit.
And she recounts the paper's D.C. bureau chief stating that the publication's goal was to "destroy [President] Barack Obama."
The most outrageous charges, however, involve Allan. According to the complaint:
"On one occasion when Ms. Guzman and three female employees of the Post were sharing drinks at an after-work function. Defendant Allan approached the group of women, pulled out his blackberry and asked them 'What do you think of this?' On his blackberry was a picture of a naked man lewdly and openly displaying his penis. When Ms. Guzman and the other female employees expressed their shock and disgust at being made to view the picture, Defendant Allan just smirked... [N]o investigation was ever conducted and the Company failed to take any steps to address her complaints."
Guzman's complaint goes on:
"On another occasion, upon information and belief, Defendant Allan approached a female employee during a party at the Post, rubbed his penis up against her and made sexually suggestive comments about her body, including her breasts, causing that female employee to feel extremely uncomfortable and fearing to be alone with him."
And finally: "... [W]hile serving as the top editor at the Post, Defendant Allan took two Australian political leaders to the strip club Scores in Manhattan..."
Guzman alleges that while at the paper, misogynistic and racist behavior was directed at her specifically. According to the complaint, she was called "sexy" and "beautiful" and referred to as "Cha Cha #1" by Les Goodstein, the senior vice president of NewsCorp. After doing an interview with Major League Baseball star Pedro Martinez, she says Allan asked her whether the pitcher "had been carrying a gun or a machete during the interview" -- a line Guzman said was racist and offensive.
When she would walk by certain offices at the paper, Guzman alleges, editors would routinely sing songs from West Side Story -- a nod to her Hispanic heritage -- including the tune: "I want to live in America."
Guzman also makes the following allegations to supplement her case that the Post harbored an environment that was offensive to women and minority employees.
"A White male senior editor sexually propositioned a young female Copy Assistant, telling her that 'If you give me a blowjob, I will give you a permanent reporter job.'"
"The last five employees who were recently terminated by Paul Carlucci, the Publisher of the Post.... Have all been black and/or women of color."
Read Stein's entire piece and the compliant in full here.
Politico's Ben Smith picks up an interesting angle to the story:
The New York Post and New York Daily News, for a time, complemented their fierce competition for circulation with bitter attacks on each other's staff and on their owners, Rupert Murdoch and Mort Zuckerman.
But Murdoch and Zuckerman, as has been reported, reached a truce of sorts, and they've been reported to be in sporadic talks about some sort of merger of -- at least -- the paper's back ends. And the clearest signal I've seen in a while of that rapprochement came this week, when a fired Post employee, Sandra Guzman, filed suit against the paper and its brawling Australian editor, Col Allan.
The Daily News offered a sanitized version of the story: "A New York Post editor sacked after complaining that a cartoon likened President Obama to a monkey sued the paper on Monday, claiming rampant racism and sexism in the newsroom," but detailed none of the actual allegations.
From the New York Post's November 10 editorial:
Late Saturday night, House Democrats slipped through the largest piece of legislation America's seen in decades.
If it becomes law, it would radically alter American life in countless ways -- for the worse.
The pain would kick in as soon as 2011, putting at risk any chance of economic recovery. (No wonder gold soared past $1,000 an ounce yesterday.)
And vital medical decisions would need Washington's OK, meaning they'd be based on political considerations.
All told, a huge setback for America, yet one possibly headed your way soon.
Members of the conservative media, including Fox News, are attacking President Obama for not attending the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But when Obama has traveled abroad in the past -- including a trip in which Obama commemorated D-Day -- Fox News and figures at other media outlets have criticized him for supposedly going on an "apology tour."
Following the release of the House Democrats' health care reform bill, the leaders of the House Republican caucus repeatedly stressed the length and size of the bill during an October 29 press conference. Numerous media figures and outlets have followed in lockstep, with the Politico's Jonathan Allen asserting that the bill "comes out to about $2.24 million per word," and Sean Hannity claiming that "if you can't put this down in 30 pages or less, it proves that this is a complicated, you know, bunch of bureaucratic garbage."
Fox News personalities and other conservative media figures have recently claimed or suggested either that a public health insurance option is unpopular among the American public, that it is costly, or both. But they ignored that numerous major public opinion polls contradict their claims; that both the House and Senate health care reform bills require the public plan to be self-sustaining; that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded that a public option did "not have a substantial effect on the cost" of the Senate health committee bill; and that numerous experts agree that a public plan is important to help control the cost of health care.
A New York Post editorial claimed that the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) determination that the current version of Sen. Max Baucus' health care plan would reduce federal deficits is deceptive because the bill begins creating tax revenues three years before it begins increasing spending, "[w]hich makes it pretty easy for revenue to top spending if you're looking at the balance sheets through just 2019, which is what the CBO does." In fact, in addition to finding that the legislation "would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $81 billion over the 2010-2019 period," CBO also determined that "[i]n subsequent years, the collective effect of those provisions would probably be continued reductions in federal budget deficits."
The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reported this afternoon that the New York Post has confirmed that an "editor who spoke out against a controversial cartoon the paper ran comparing the author of the president's stimulus package to a dead chimpanzee has been fired from her job."
More from Stein's report:
Sandra Guzman was quietly dismissed from her position as associate editor last week for reasons that are being hotly debated by personnel inside the company. An official statement from the New York Post, provided to the Huffington Post, said that her job was terminated once the paper ended the section she was editing.
"Sandra is no longer with The Post because the monthly in-paper insert, Tempo, of which she was the editor, has been discontinued."
Employees at the paper -- which is one of media mogul's Rupert Murdoch's crown jewels -- said the firing, which took place last Tuesday, seemed retributive.
Guzman was the most high-profile Post employee to publicly speak out against a cartoon that likened the author of the stimulus bill (whom nearly everyone associated with President Barack Obama) with a rabid primate. Drawn by famed cartoonist Sean Delonas, the illustration pictured two befuddled policeman -- having just shot the chimp twice in the chest -- saying: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill."
"I neither commissioned or approved it," Guzman wrote to a list of journalist colleagues shortly thereafter. "I saw it in the paper yesterday with the rest of the world. And, I have raised my objections to management."
The remark from Guzman was a rare instance of dissension within the halls of the paper making its way into the public domain. And sources at the Post now say it cost her a job.
In her latest op-ed, serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey quoted Dr. David McKalip -- infamous for forwarding to fellow members of a Google listserv a picture of President Obama dressed as a witch doctor -- to support her claim that the Senate Finance Committee health reform bill would institute the "most extreme change to Medicare ever." McCaughey also mischaracterized a statement by Obama appointee Dr. David Blumenthal to claim that one of her prior falsehoods -- that a Health Information Technology (HIT) provision in the stimulus act would lead to government "interfering in doctors' treatment decisions" -- was accurate.
An op-ed by serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey is, indefensibly, featured in today's New York Post:
When President Obama addresses Congress and the nation tonight, he should pledge to do three things.
First, he should announce that he will discard the 1,018-page health bill drafted in the House of Representatives and replace it with a 20-page bill in plain English. Twenty pages should be sufficient. The framers of the US Constitution established an entire federal government in 18 pages.
This is absolute nonsense.
First, as Betsy McCaughey surely knows -- though most of her readers do not -- the number of pages is wildly misleading. See, legislation is printed on pages with very wide margins. Text is double-spaced -- and lines are numbered. Here, for example, is what page 483 of the House bill looks like:
Page 483 -- a typical page -- contains only 151 words. That's about half as many words as appear on a page in a typical book. So it's more useful to think of the health care legislation as running about 500 pages. That's quite a bit shorter than a Harry Potter book. Surely it isn't unreasonable for legislation governing the nation's health care and insurance systems to run two-thirds as long as a children's book, is it?
Next: McCaughey says the bill should be written "in plain English." But legislation is written in highly precise and technical legal language for a reason: If it were written in "plain English," it would introduce more ambiguity, not less. Enforcement of laws would be more dependent upon judge's interpretation, and less dependent upon the intent of the elected representatives who wrote the law. (A prospect that would make a conservative like McCaughey twitch, if she were honest.)
Think about a "plain English" agreement between you and your daughter: If she cleans her room, she can have ice cream. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Now, think of all the complications that could arise: Who decides what qualifies as "clean"? What if she enlists the help of a friend? How soon does the room need to be cleaned? What kind of ice cream is she entitled to -- the stuff in your freezer, or the soft-serve chocolate-vanilla twist at her favorite ice cream stand, three towns over? How much ice cream? Et cetera. Those details need not be spelled out when you're dealing with your daughter -- at the end of the day, you can impose your will on the situation easily enough. It isn't so easy when you're trying to get your insurance company to cover your prostate exam.
Next: McCaughey says "20 pages should be sufficient" to revamp the nation's health insurance system. That's nothing short of crazy, as the ice cream comparison probably makes clear. Some things need to be elaborate and complicated. Next time you get on an airplane, think about whether you want the pilot's dashboard controls to be as complex as they are, or whether you'd prefer it to consist of an on/off switch, a steering wheel, and a break pedal. Think about whether you'd prefer the mechanics who service the plane to work off detailed step-by-step instructions making clear the 300 safety tests they must perform before each flight, or whether you'd be more comfortable if they were just told "Check it out."
Finally, as Betsy McCaughey surely knows, the Constitution did not establish an entire federal government in 18 pages. It laid out the basic framework for such a government. Betsy McCaughey understands the difference -- she just hopes her readers don't.
McCaughey's dishonesty and fundamentally-flawed thinking make the rest of her argument impossible to take seriously, but let's look briefly at her next demand:
Secondly, the president should announce that the purpose of his 20-page bill is to cover the truly uninsured. Period.
And do nothing for the already-insured, whose health care costs are skyrocketing? Nothing to stop health insurance companies from doing everything they can to avoid paying for necessary medical care so they can maximize profits? Nothing for people who are locked-in to their current jobs for fear that if they change jobs, they will be unable to get insurance due to "pre-existing conditions"? Nothing to force insurance companies to compete? Nothing to lower costs? Nothing to prevent insurance companies from placing caps on health care payments, which can -- and does -- result in people with top-of-the-line health insurance going bankrupt due to health costs?
Well, at least McCaughey made her perspective clear: She doesn't want to do anything to stop insurance companies from denying payment for necessary procedures. Good to know.
Following Attorney General Eric Holder's announcement that a federal prosecutor will be conducting "a preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated" during interrogations of detainees suspected of terrorism, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) asserted that the investigation would be a "declaration of war against the CIA, and against common sense." Several conservative media figures have similarly advanced the claim that by looking into interrogation abuses, the Obama administration or the Justice Department has "declared war" on the CIA.
In his forthcoming book, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge reportedly claims that politics may have played a role in the question of whether to raise the terror threat levels on the eve of the November 2004 presidential election -- echoing contemporaneous allegations made by several progressives. Media Matters for America presents a sampling -- by no means exhaustive -- of media personalities who at the time portrayed those progressives as suffering from "cynicism" and "paranoia" and obsessed with a "conspiracy theory," despite credible evidence that the Bush administration was using the War on Terror for political gain, particularly in the months before the 2004 election.
In an August 3 NY Post op-ed, Marc Siegel parroted the myth that the House health care reform bill would require end-of-life counseling for seniors every five years, which is false. Betsy McCaughey made the same claim in her July 17 NY Post op-ed, and has since been forced to backtrack.
Siegel, a practicing internist and Fox News medical contributor, wrote:
All this oversight threatens to destroy the art of medicine, which exists purely one-on-one, between me and my patient.
A prime example comes in the section starting on page 425 of the House bill. This dictates that an Advanced Care Planning Consultation must take place every five years from the age of 65 -- with the intervention of so-called counselors, trained and appointed by the government.
The clear goal of the consultation is to decrease unnecessary care to the elderly. But, while a lot of resources are too often wasted in the last days of life, there are many vigorous and engaged senior citizens who shouldn't be shortchanged or pushed prematurely to euthanasia.
On July 16, Betsy McCaughey falsely claimed that the House health care reform bill would "absolutely require" end-of-life counseling for seniors "that will tell them how to end their life sooner." Since then, numerous media figures have echoed McCaughey's claim -- even after the falsehood was debunked and McCaughey herself backtracked.
Let me get this straight: After years of the media acting as though the most important decision in casting your vote is determining which candidate you'd rather have a drink with, and after the media decided that the president having a beer with a cop and a professor was so awesome it required on-screen graphics and a countdown clock, the New York Post thinks it's an outrage that the Governor of New York had a cocktail at a birthday party?
And does anyone think the New York Post would have run this article if the Governor's name was "George Pataki," and the birthday party was at Sully's Irish Pub, and the drink was a bottle of Bud?
Seems unlikely to me.
But Governor David Paterson, at a birthday party for a BET executive (and longtime friend), drinking an Elderflower cocktail? Scandal!