A Farewell to Mr. Burke

The timing was somewhat tragically apropos.

On Saturday, my best friend from middle school and college called to tell us that his dad had died. When we got the call, we had just reached the 6th floor of the Newseum in Washington. My friend’s dad had been, at one time, the Vice President of ABC News and the President of CBS News. My love for politics and journalism is due, in large part, to David Burke. He led an incredible life and welcomed some sarcastic, obnoxious fat little Republican Croat into his home as if he was a member of the family. 

Mr. Burke was brilliant and inspiring. He attended Tufts University, and later received an MBA from the University of Chicago. He came from a blue collar background, and had a great passion for labor issues. He worked with later Secretary of State and of Labor, George Schultz, to produce “The Public Interest in a National Labor Policy” for the Committee for Economic Development. This report laid the foundation for national labor relations policy. His work on these matters led to Mr. Burke being named to President John Kennedy’s Labor Advisory Council in 1960. 

He led a life that could fill volumes of memoirs. After working for the White House, Mr. Burke became Chief of Staff to Senator Edward Kennedy.  Interviews that Mr. Burke gave in the 1970s about his time working with President Kennedy and with Robert F. Kennedy are available here and here

He spent time at the Dreyfus Corporation in New York before becoming Chief of Staff to Governor Hugh Carey, and was instrumental in saving New York City from an imminent bankruptcy in the late 70s. In the 90s, President Clinton appointed Mr. Burke to be the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseeing the Voice of America, and he was named to the New York Daily News’ Board of Directors during the paper’s bankruptcy, and helped save it. 

The Broadcasting Board of Governors gives an award in journalism in Mr. Burke’s honor every year, and Tufts’ Tisch School has a Media and Public Service internship named after him. 

Mr. Burke helped to spark my interest in news and journalism. My friend, Terence’s birthday party in December 1980 involved us kids sitting silently on the floor next to Sam Donaldson doing the nightly news – the top story was John Lennon’s murder a week earlier. I was staying with the Burkes on the Cape when ABC correspondent Charlie Glass was about to be released from captivity in Lebanon. Mr. Burke arranged for me to meet with the executive producer of World News Tonight when I was considering a career in broadcast journalism. He was a big believer in the importance and power of journalism in a free society. When CBS started to cheap out on its news division, he left. When Senator Kennedy faced a tough re-election campaign in the mid-90s against some Romney fella, he arranged for me to meet the Senator, and I watched a barn-burner of a speech in a Waltham IBEW hall. 

Mr. Burke was most recently a member of the Board of Directors of the John F. Kennedy Library, where he was also a member of the Profiles in Courage Award committee. 

Mr. Burke led a life that was intimately intertwined with his roots and the turbulent times.  He was talented and fortunate enough to have intimate involvement with the political and social upheaval of the 60s, the economic stagnation of the 70s, the international turmoil of the 80s, and was an elder statesman by the 90s. He was the behind-the-scenes negotiator, leader, and fixer.

My family and I send all our love to the Burkes as they say good-bye to this giant of a man.

Esmonde’s Exceptional Ethics

Let’s get something clear, here. Donn Esmonde is a hypocrite. He is a semi-retired former-and-current City/Region columnist for the Buffalo News. Donn Esmonde thinks your kid deserves a quality education, including (but not limited to) charter schools; however, that right to a quality education miraculously ceases to exist, in his mind, at precisely the borders of the city of Buffalo. To Donn Esmonde, there is no greater sin in the world than the sin of “choosing to live outside Buffalo city limits.” The evidence for this was most starkly measured when he devoted two or three columns specifically to convince Clarence taxpayers to do genuine harm to the quality of that town’s school district. He succeeded in this mission. 

Make no mistake – the “Donn Esmonde is an ass” series stems directly from that, and if I wasn’t writing for Artvoice it would be named something profoundly more profane. Esmonde went on and on about the evil, greedy teacher’s union while failing to disclose that his wife belongs to one. He went on and on about how unconscionable it is for union workers to enjoy good wages and benefits, given that he and his wife have enjoyed union benefits for most – if not all – of their work-lives. He went on and on about these things without disclosing his own conflicts and biases. 

I don’t write about stuff in which I have a personal financial interest without disclosing it. 

Part of Esmonde’s shtick has been to promote the advent and growth of charter schools within city limits. In some instances, charters help kids in underperforming traditional schools to get a good education. In some instances, charters help the wealthy and well-connected families living within the city to provide their kids with a suburban school experience without packing up boxes and renting a U-Haul. In some instances, charters simply fail

Whatever. You do what’s right for your kids and their education if you care enough and have the means to do it. There’s no second chances, and you don’t have the luxury of waiting around for stuff to get better. You move to where schools are good, you apply for a charter school, you get your kids to take entrance exams for schools that need it, you go parochial or private, or you just stay put and try hard to make sure that your kid’s education – and every kid’s education – is as good as it can possibly be.  These are not just personal choices, but societal ones – as a general rule, we want well-educated kids because the alternative is horrible. For everyone. 

I don’t begrudge any parent’s choice regarding what he thinks is best for his kid. So, what does undisclosed bias have to do with anything? 

In 2000, Esmonde wrote a column about the Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s effort to help charter schools in Buffalo start up.  

The Tapestry Charter School was one of Buffalo’s three finalists, but didn’t make last month’s final cut. Tapestry’s Steven Polowitz said their grass-roots effort could have used a Partnership loan fund.

“I can’t say for sure it would have made the difference (in getting a charter),” said Polowitz. “But it would have eliminated a significant question.”

In 2007, he wrote a column blasting a tax incentive given to big-money waterfront condo owners

“This is not a marginal neighborhood where you’re trying to induce people to buy [with tax breaks],” said community development attorney Steven Polowitz. “How do you reconcile giving away the store for high-end condos in a coveted area?”

In 2011, Esmonde again pimped the charters as a way to bypass failing Buffalo schools. 

“Charters are the only option that lets you make the fundamental structural changes that give these schools the best chance for success,” Steven Polowitz said.

Polowitz is a longtime charter advocate who 10 years ago co-founded the successful Tapestry charter. He is now with Chameleon Community Schools Project, a nonprofit that develops charter schools. Polowitz laid out a charter turnaround plan for James Williams just before he left as superintendent. Interim successor Amber Dixon said she is open to the charter option. I think she — and the School Board — ought to be.

These seven schools need more than cosmetic surgery. That translates into — among other things — a longer school day; smaller class sizes; an expanded school year; more classroom aides; social workers and counselors on staff; and keeping the building open for everything from after-school tutoring to child care. It will not happen in a district where contract rules stifle options and slow-track change. It only comes with restriction-lite charters.

“You can interchange parts,” Polowitz said, “but if the fundamental structure remains, it won’t make much difference.”

In fairness to Buffalo teachers, counteracting the baggage of broken homes and battered neighborhoods these kids carry into the classroom is a near-impossible job. Schools, to some degree, don’t “fail”; they simply get overstuffed with desperately needy kids. Which is why it makes sense for hurting schools to be taken over by the academic version of a SWAT team: flexible, fast on its feet and able to use every educational weapon, from alternative curriculums to business partnerships.

If schools are reinvented as charters, kids stay in the same building. Teachers either move to another school or reapply for their jobs, likely with similar pay and benefits — but without seniority and job protection. Granted, charters are only as good as the people running them. But if you need change — and these seven schools are at cliff’s edge — charters are the Extreme Makeover.

In 2012, Esmonde effectively dedicated an entire column to Steven Polowitz hagiography

“We are concerned about education in the city,” said Steve Polowitz, “and have been for years.”

Polowitz is part of the pack of reformers who are trying – against all odds – to transform two of Buffalo’s 28 failing schools into public charter schools. The folks behind the nonprofit push are taking fire from a Board of Ed that has yet to grasp the enormity of its failing-schools crisis. On the other parapet is a teachers union determined to protect its ever-shrinking turf.

If every verbal blow the reformers have taken were a punch, Polowitz would be a walking bruise.

He is 61, a rail-thin attorney with silvery hair and impeccable school-reform credentials. Eleven years ago, he and four others founded Tapestry Charter School. It is arguably the most successful charter in Buffalo. The public charter school, which since expanded through high school, last year got 1,200 applications for 200 spots.

Here’s a dissenting voice

After all Polowitz and Co. are all ready running Tapestry Charter School, you know the one with the fewest students receiving reduced price lunches of any school in the city limits, the school whose students must have private transportation, wink nudge, and we know who that’s going to keep out of the lottery don’t we ? Essentially this guy and his crew are running a private school full of middle to upper middle class kids with the ever present charter spectre of “counseling out” a.k.a. “expelling” any kid who shows a learning, emotional or behavioral issue. If you can shoot fish in a barrel your aim doesn’t have to be all that good.

Who is Steven Polowitz? Damned if I know, except from these Esmonde columns, a guy who helped start Tapestry Charter School, and someone who is a “community development attorney.” Just, y’know, random school advocate guy. 

Random guy? 

Donn Esmonde and Steven Polowitz (and their wives) are co-owners of a property in Spring Hill, Florida, just north of Tampa. 

While Esmonde touts his city-resident cred, he co-owns a very suburban, very sprawltastic single-family home in a subdivision outside of Tampa, Florida. It’s unit 12 in that particular subdivision, and has a market value of around $86,000, but possibly as low as $75,000 – it’s okay, though – the mortgage is for $66,000. With an area of just over 2,000 square feet, the house was placemade in 2004 and began to matter for Esmonde and Polowitz in 2010.  The annual property taxes are a low $1,400, and the home has 3 bedrooms. Here it is: 

Could use some better landscaping. Maybe some flowers or something. 

Sadly, the previous owners bought the place for $210,000 – Esmonde and Polowitz got it for a steal, and the prior owner took a hit of $130,000 at the time – in fact, Deutsche Bank moved to foreclose on the property in 2009.  The previous owners were a husband and wife from Buffalo who owned a paving company here, and their 2005 mortgage was for $168,000 – twice what the property is now worth. 

I don’t care about Donn Esmonde’s sprawly vacation home, or that his kids went to an exam school (away from the riff-raff), or that he is a massive hypocrite who harbors a geographical animus towards children. But one would suppose that, if I was to write a glowing blog post about someone with whom I co-owned a vacation home, I’d let you guys know about it one way or another.

Donn Esmonde hates the suburbs, except when he lives in them.  

Paladino, Higgins, and McCarthy

In an article that appeared in Sunday’s Buffalo News, Congressman Brian Higgins and his cousin-by-marriage Carl Paladino exchanged metaphorical f*ck yous. Frankly, it’s hardly news that a Democratic politician is at odds with opportunistic tea party figurehead Carl Paladino. 

But in Bob McCarthy’s article, it was revealed that the rift became irreparable after Chris Smith, Marc Odien, and I reported on Paladino’s happy forwarding of ugly racist and pornographic text and images to political figures and developers around the region

Release of the emails

Paladino’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign seemed doomed after a Buffalo website revealed his practice of emailing racist and pornographic jokes to friends.

At the time, Caputo (who has since broken with Paladino) told reporters he had been approached by a Higgins “emissary” who promised “everything would come out” if Paladino ran for governor.

Though he sent jokes to many friends on his email list, Paladino then and now blames Higgins’ staff for the leak.

“That was the end,” Paladino says now. “I knew he did it. And it only caused more anguish in the family than we already had.”

Typical narcissistic tween stuff, that. Paladino doesn’t blame himself for sending out images using the word “nigger” or showing the President of the United States and his wife as a pimp and whore – it’s someone else’s fault that he got found out, causing “anguish” to his family.  Had he kept his racism and pornography to himself, Mr. Paladino could have saved his own family all that “anguish”. 

[Rus] Thompson said the Paladino campaign engaged investigators to track the email trail.

“So we know where it came from,” he said.

I publicly challenge Rus Thompson – Paladino’s driver and errand-boy – to release the “investigation” that “tracked” the email trail. I would like to see proof in some form to back up what he’s talking about. Does Rus really think, for instance, that if he forwards one particular chain e-mail that Microsoft and Bill Gates will pay him money

Higgins denies that he or his staff leaked the emails, pointing out that Paladino’s email list included dozens of people who could have released the jokes.

Here’s a question – at any point do you think that the Buffalo News’ Bob McCarthy contacted Chris Smith, Marc Odien, or me to ask us to confirm or deny whether we received the Paladino emails from Brian Higgins or his people? Do you think that the author of this article made the effort to take to Facebook, Twitter, this blog, Artvoice, WNYMedia.net, or asked one of his colleagues for our numbers to see what we had to say about this particular matter? 

At no time did McCarthy ask the people who published the emails where they came from, or whether they came from a Higgins source. Think about it – the emails were sent to a long string of people. They were not secret – many, many people knew about them and former campaign manager Michael Caputo has stated that he knew about the emails, that he knew they were an issue, and that they focus-grouped them, finding that the racist ones were particularly problematic. 

When your campaign knows that the emails are an issue, and that any one of the recipients – or the recipients’ recipients – could have leaked them to the press, pointing the finger at the local Congressman who disagrees with your conclusion that Obamacare is worse than 9/11, to maintain a feud over them is idiotic. 

In the end, Carl Paladino is unable and unwilling to acknowledge that his own behavior is his own fault. These are things that normal people learn before they enter middle school. And journalists learn to check their sources – if Paladino and Rus Thompson say they know how the emails got to Chris, Marc, and me, you should probably check with one of us. 

McCarthy’s Quote of the Week: Roll Call

Why won’t Buffalo News political columnist Bob McCarthy cite his sources?

In Sunday’s column, he writes

• Quote of the Week comes from Congressman-elect Chris Collins, who while in Washington a few days ago mistakenly found himself in a caucus room with people like Nancy Pelosi – and not John Boehner.

According to one congressional source attending, Republican Collins – breakfast plate in hand – suddenly rushed over to him and asked: “Wait … what meeting is this?” – only to be told he was in the Democratic caucus.

“Oh s***, I’m in the wrong meeting,” Collins was quoted as saying. “Where are the Republicans meeting?”

New Chief of Staff Chris Grant seems to be getting the hang of Washington spin.

“Congressman-elect Collins believes very strongly in reaching bipartisan solutions to fix this country’s problems,” Grant said. “What better way to accomplish that than introducing himself to his colleagues on the other side of the aisle?”

Quoted where? To whom? Why did McCarthy so cavalierly write this up without mentioning his source; that it was printed online several days ago? The way in which he writes it for the News, you’d think it was his story – that some source of McCarthy’s provided him with these quotes. 

Well, if you read AV Daily, you’d have known on Thursday that the story came from the “Heard on the Hill” section of Roll Call. The byline for that story is Warren Rojas, and every single quote that McCarthy co-opts as his own come from Rojas’ story posted last Wednesday. An NYU handbook for journalism students explains

“Sources” may also be defined as research material, including newspapers, magazines, books, research reports, studies, polls, radio, television, newsreels, documentaries, movies, audio podcasts or video from the Web. All such sources, particularly secondary sources, should be carefully vetted. Good journalists don’t simply extract information, or claims, from written or broadcast material; they check that material against other or similar material for accuracy. Just because something is published doesn’t mean it’s accurate or fair. Wikipedia, for example, is not always an accurate source and should not be cited as such. 

The reporter must clearly indicate where information comes from. Failure to disclose your reliance on someone else’s work is unethical, and can leave readers or viewers in the dark about the legitimacy of the information. This does  not hold true if something is a well-known fact that is beyond reasonable dispute. For example, it would not be necessary to cite a source for “John Adams was the second president of the United States.”

McCarthy’s quote of the week comes from Roll Call, not Chris Collins. Omitting the source for his material is unethical. 

Political Soothsaying

Chris Collins 2010 Summer Green Series Speaker

Photo by Flickr User KVIS

What I do here is offer my opinion on issues and events. I seldom cover actual news, and on the rare occasion that I do, I still do it from a particular point of view, and will ultimately tell you what I think about it – and what I think you should think about it. 

What the Buffalo News does is report the news, except in clearly defined columns, and on the op-ed pages, where the author’s own opinion is proferred. 

What nobody does is enter psychic mode and extrapolate what an interviewee actually meant to say, and then offer up an amended version of a quote. 

The Batavian is a website that mostly reports the news. It has occasionally delved into opinion writing, but for the most part it reports on goings-on in the courts, sports news, development, entertainment, who got arrested at Darien Lake, and what happens on the scanners. It’s small-town reporting at its purest, and it’s a great resource for Batavians who until recently had only a single local paper. It also covers local, state, and federal political races that are relevant to its readership.  It’s a straight news outlet. 

Earlier this week, I highlighted an interview that the Batavian’s Howard Owens conducted with congressional candidate Chris Collins, where he made some outrageous statements about the survivability of breast and prostate cancers. The quote was as follows: 

The healthcare reforms Collins said he would push would be tort reform and open up competition in insurance by allowing policies across state lines.

Collins also argued that modern healthcare is expensive for a reason.

People now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things,” Collins said. “The fact of the matter is, our healthcare today is so much better,  we’re living so much longer, because of innovations in drug development, surgical procedures, stents, implantable cardiac defibrillators, neural stimulators — they didn’t exist 10 years ago. The increase in cost is not because doctors are making a lot more money. It’s what you can get for healthcare, extending your life and curing diseases.” [Emphasis added].

Later that day, the Erie County Health Commissioner issued a statement challenging Collins’ assertion, and urging people to get tested and to be vigilant for breast and prostate cancers. Almost at the same time, Collins’ opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Kathy Hochul released this

“Chris Collins has demonstrated a stunning lack of sensitivity by saying, ‘people now don’t die from prostate cancer, breast cancer, and some of the other things.’ Tragically, nearly 70,000 people will die this year from these two types of cancer alone.  We can disagree about public policy without making these kinds of outrageous and offensive statements.”

Good statement – concise, pointed, properly angry and scolding. The quotation was verbatim from the Batavian’s piece.  
However, The Batavian’s Howard Owens was not happy, and he expressed his displeasure in a novel way. Without differentiating his post from the straight reporting the Batavian otherwise usually engages in, he posted a pure opinion piece which, I think, crossed a line. After printing Hochul’s statement, Owens opines, 

That’s the statement, with no reference to the source nor the full quote so people could judge the context for themselves.

The original source is The Batavian (both as a courtesy to The Batavian and as a matter of complete transparency, the Hochul campaign should have included this fact in its release).

I’ll be the first to admit that I get pissy when I don’t get proper credit for something, but is this more a fit of pique than anything else?  After all, Collins’ statement about cancer survivability stands on its own, and speaks for itself.  If there exists any doubt about the pure meaning of Collins’ words, then it’s up to Collins to explain them and expand upon them, no? But here, Owens goes on to reproduce the entire paragraph in which Collins’ cancer quip is contained, and continues: 

On its face, the opening part of the quote from Collins sounds outrageous, but in context, clearly, Collins misspoke. More likely, he meant to say. “Fewer people die from prostate cancer, breast cancer and some of the other things.” [emphasis added].

First, Owens supposes that Collins simply misspoke. Well, what Collins said seems outrageous because it is outrageous. Context? The context about which Owens is so concerned is open to interpretation, I suppose. But isn’t that conclusion solely within the province of the utterer of the words, or the reader of the article?

Is Collins grossly misinformed about cancer survivability, or is he just a clumsy politician who was trying to embellish a point about how Obamacare is horrible and health care is expensive, and should be? That’s my call – not Owens’. 

Propriety aside, I don’t see any evidence that Collins “misspoke”. There was no follow-up, and he didn’t correct his statement. Collins didn’t go on to further explain or expand upon what he said about breast and prostate cancers. He just went on to assert that some 40 year-old medical technologies like TENS machines and implanted defibrillators “didn’t exist 10 years ago”. 

The whole paragraph is a load of semi-informed nonsense. The whole paragraph is Collins’ politicization of health care to persuade readers to maintain the status quo. Yet Owens argues that it’s important for voters to consider Collins’ BS about cancer within the context of all the other falsehoods and lies he excreted during that portion of the interview. 

The real outrage, though, is Owens’ second assertion – suggesting what Collins must have meant to say, and completely re-stating what Collins said, in quotation marks.  That’s not how journalism works. What else exists in that paragraph to help reach the conclusion that Collins really meant something different from what he actually said? After that first ridiculous sentence, Collins utters not another word about cancer

If Owens thought Collins “misspoke”, he could have asked a follow-up; for example, “wait, you just said no one dies from breast cancer or prostate cancer, you didn’t really mean that, did you?” But there was no such follow-up. There was no explanation; there is no relevant context to further explain what Collins meant. Owens is playing psychic and ex-post-facto trying to repair a Collins gaffe. Hey, Howard, what did Collins “mean” when he repeatedly called Shelly Silver the “anti-Christ”? What did Collins “mean” when he invited a female Republican bigwig to give him a “lapdance”? 

Allow me to divert from the underlying point by asking, why? 

Why do WNY media and their personalities and writers bend over backwards so regularly and consistently for Chris Collins? Is it because Collins demands that kind of treatment in exchange for access? Is it because they’re enamored of his money and success? Is it because of campaign ads?  I’m asking seriously. This guy gets away with so many lies, so often, and he gets a routine uncritical pass. 

Think I’m kidding? Just this past Sunday, Bob McCarthy wrote the same bunch of brown-nosing BS about Chris Collins that he’s written at least twice before. “[Collins] had done everything he said he would do. His administration was scandal-free. And he lost.”  In November 2011, McCarthy wrote, “How did a county executive who fulfilled all his promises with minimal effects on taxes and no scandals manage to lose?”  Then again in December 2011, McCarthy wrote, “This time, the defeat seems to genuinely hurt. Collins struggles to grasp how he lost after keeping all his campaign promises of 2007 while running Erie County without a hint of scandal.”  I addressed the blatant inaccuracy of the “scandal-free” / “promises kept” assertions here

That’s a lot of identical puffery of one guy, multiple times in one year. The same reporter did a story on this Collins cancer kerfuffle , and Collins basically said he knows people with cancer. Having politicized cancer by suggesting that, thanks to America’s unsustainably expensive health care system, “no one dies from” certain types of the disease, Collins issued this: 

As the brother of a breast cancer survivor, I am grateful for the medical advances that saved my sister’s life, which would not have been possible a generation ago,” he said. “I find it troubling that Kathy Hochul would politicize the seriousness of cancer.

Hey, Chris and Howard – where in that extended Batavian quote did Collins mention a single, solitary medical advance, treatment, or medication that has anything to do with improved breast and prostate cancer survivability over the past generation? I’ll answer for you: nowhere. Perhaps reporters shouldn’t try to play soothsayer and, weeks later, divine what their interviewees “mean” to say, and then create phony “amended” statements, complete with improper quotation marks.  

Owens concludes,  

That’s not what he said (I taped the interview and the original quote as published is accurate), but the rest of the quote clearly explains the larger point he is trying to make, which is that medical advances have driven up the cost of healthcare.

To rip this quote out of context and try to use it to paint Collins as some sort of insensitive boob is the kind of below-the-belt, negative campaign tactic that keeps people from being engaged in the process and casting intelligent votes. Frankly, I think of Kathy Hochul as somebody who is more dignified than this sort of mudslinging.

Well, actually, it is precisely what he said, isn’t it?  I mean, if the original quote as published is accurate, then Collins said exactly what you wrote. Does it “clearly explain” some uninformed point Collins was trying to make about Obamacare-is-bad? Not really.
Is it mudslinging? By whom
Do I think that Chris Collins really believes that breast and prostate cancers don’t kill people anymore? I don’t really know, but I’m willing to accept that he’s a reasonably intelligent, reasonably well-informed person who would know that these cancers remain quite lethal.  So, do I think he “misspoke”? Not really – “misspoke” implies inadvertent error. So, what’s going on? 
I disagree with Owens’ crystal ball about what Collins “meant” to say. I think Collins said exactly what he meant to say; that people, generally, don’t die from prostate and breast cancers as much anymore, thanks to innovation and technology.  But he never properly expressed his point, and certainly didn’t back it up.  He politicized cancer and medical advances in order to make a point that we should maintain the current, unsustainable, unfair, over-expensive and under-performing system of private health insurance we have today, and that Obamacare (and, by extension, Kathy Hochul), are bad.  He was doing what politicians do – embellishing facts to score a political point. To suggest otherwise; to suggest that Hochul’s statement was an egregious horror whilst Collins’ was an earnest mistake, is utter nonsense.
Politicians are engaged in a competitive system and have to differentiate themselves through persuasion. Collins made a factual assertion, and his opponent criticized it. If Hochul crossed some arbitrary Owens line of propriety, so did Collins. 
Owens suggested on Twitter that I was being hypocritical, because I cheered him when he embarrassed Jane Corwin last year.  The facts beg to differ.  In 2011, Owens was doing his job as a reporter – asking Corwin pointed questions about the second videotape that would have shown her staffer Michael Mallia harassing Jack Davis.  He was committing journalism in the first degree – pretending to be a Lily Dale psychic with respect to Collins’ “meaning” isn’t the same thing. 
In 2011, Owens didn’t fire up the Batavian posting machine to specifically fisk a statement that Corwin made, accuse her of a “slur”, and suggest that the verbatim transcription of what someone said wasn’t really what they meant to say, and then create and publish a fictional amended quotation to reflect that “meaning”. 
Owens is entitled to his outrage at Hochul’s rather mild reaction to Collins’ politicization of cancer, but to accuse her of a “slur” for repeating what Collins said, and criticizing it, is ridiculous. To create an opinion piece specifically to call her out for it is silliness. To – without any factual evidence – condescend to the reader by explaining Collins’ meaning and amending his statement, and surrounding it in quotation marks, is outrageous. 
Maybe what Owens misspoke. What he meant to say was, “Hochul’s statement was quite tame, and I’m genuinely upset that she didn’t cite the Batavian.
Sucks, doesn’t it?