By Jared Chausow
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By Elizabeth Flock
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By Jon Campbell
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Carter does have a history with the mayor. The pugnacious Carter's questions have reportedly irked Giuliani for several yearsthough the administration has also griped about Andrew Kurtzman, NY1's other prominent City Hall reporter, and following Giuliani's election in 1993, city commissioners were kept off all of NY1's political talk shows for seven months. Last year, Giuliani accused Carter of having "no decency" when Carter asked him about rumors of an affair with mayoral aide Christyne Lategano, which had recently been aired by New York magazine. Months of behind-the-scenes warfare with Lategano culminated with a Carter pledge: "I will destroy you."
The mayor's office did not return phone calls. But Carter says now that "Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has the right to say anything he wants. I try to keep in mind that this is the same mayor who called me when I was in the hospital to see how I was doing."
The mayor has long refused to speak to The Amsterdam News, whose current issue carries the banner headline HARLEM HELD CAPTIVE. AmNews editor Elinor Tatum says the last time the paper asked directly for an interview with Giuliani, an administration flack said it "wouldn't be in the best interest" of the mayor to grant the request. Asked whether the mayor's relationship to black journalists has a racial animus, Tatum responded with a question: "Would we even expect him to give respect to black reporters when he won't respect black leaders?"
Other African American journalists, while declining to speak on the record, downplayed a racial cast to the mayor's press criticism, and more than one noted that Giuliani also carped about Times coverage of the rally last week. Indeed, Giuliani's wrath seems to have been prompted at least in part by the efforts of beat reporters at the Times, News, and Newsdayas well as at local broadcast stationswho found daily contradictions in shifting administration explanations of the rally's violent denouement.
In his day-after comments about the melee, for example, the mayor said police had moved to stop the rally immediately after 4 p.m. because a court order is "sacred." But a Monday Times story noted the mayor's pre-rally comment "that the police would allow 'some reasonable flexibility' in ending it at 4 p.m." The mayor quickly switched tacks, saying cops had moved because of Muhammad's "incitement to riot and murder."
A day later the administration's story shifted again, and a police video screened Wednesday purported to show that cops acted only after being pelted with debris. Then Newsday revealed that a swooping helicopter had been part of a prearranged police plan, and footage on NY1 and WCBS-TV showed that before the scuffle, a phalanx of cops had moved to shut off the rally's generator.
Carter, for his part, says he's experienced no backlash at the station from Giuliani's criticism, and Steve Paulus, NY1's veep for news, expressed complete confidence in Carter's work. "The mayor's gotten personal with other reporters," Paulus added. "He's done it to lots of people. Last week it was a little more noticeable because we had that tape." But Paulus also allowed that when it comes to the mayor and race, "there's a heightened sensitivity. And it's pretty remarkable how few African American reporters there are on the political beats."
The Starr report eviscerated any number of journalistic prohibitions; among them was The New York Times ban on the phrase "blow job." The historic first cite was on page B18 of Saturday's paper, at the end of footnote 316: "And then I [Lewinsky] made a joke and I said, 'Well, can I be Assistant to the President for Blow Jobs?' He said, 'I'd like that."'
The appearance of the phrase in the paper was received with particular rue by one Times reader. Mac Wellman, the Downtown playwright, wrote a satire called Seven Blowjobs in 1992, which scored a cabal of posturing politicians with distinct resemblances to Helms and D'Amato and their ilk. The Times reviewed the play without ever revealing its title. The paper's current linguistic turn prompted this response from Wellman: "Interesting. You can use a bad word to hobble a foolish 'Democratic' president with an embarrassing personal problem; however, you cannot use the same bad word to satirize a Republican senator intending to undermine the Bill of Rights. When some folks refer to the 'liberal' press I wonder exactly what they mean."