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NYT ‘Bent Over Backwards’ to Deny Ground Zero Health Risks It Now Reports

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April 8, 2010
by Julie Hollar

As yet another study is released documenting the damaging health effects of breathing in toxic Ground Zero dust, it’s good to see corporate media outlets taking it seriously. (Most media outlets, anyway–the New York Post continues to give a platform to deniers.)

It’s worth remembering, though–since they won’t remind you–that for many months after 9/11, some outlets–the New York Times in particular–downplayed the fallout and mustered shockingly little journalistic skepticism of government reassurances about safety.

The attitude of Andrew Revkin, the Times‘ environmental reporter at the time, says it all. As I wrote in 2006:

The Times‘ Revkin told American Journalism Review (1–2/03), “We were, I think, bending over backwards to be sure we were reporting a risk only if we knew it, whereas others, I feel rather strongly, were flipping it the other way.” Revkin cited the Daily News as an example. When asked how he thought the 9/11 health story would end, Revkin told AJR, “I think it s going to fade away.”

Instead of acting as the watchdog it s supposed to be, the New York Times reinforced misleading government claims that directly impacted the lives and health of thousands of New Yorkers. It s an important history that you won t hear about from the Times, which has never acknowledged or apologized for its reporting.

You can read that history in my article, “Gullibility Begins at Home: NYT Accepted False Reassurances on Ground Zero Safety” (Extra!, 11-12/06).