When David Malone scaled the Times building in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, people rolled their eyes at yet another kook trying to bring attention to himself and/or his pet cause. With Malone, it was a combination of the two. The climber “only” made it up 11 stories, where he placed a banner with an image of Osama Bin Laden holding President Bush like a puppet that read “Bin Laden’s Plan.” Malone has published a book of the same name with a vanity press. Malone, 29, is a University of Michigan dropout who left the school to study Al Qaeda full-time. As he told the Daily News‘ Jill Coffey, “they didn’t offer classes in Al Qaeda.”
Coffey plays a big role in this story, as she is the reporter who talked with Malone the most throughout the whole ordeal. She recounts her story in today’s Daily News, and it’s wrought with intrigue and humor. (It almost reads like a treatment for a movie or TV drama.) Coffey keeps Malone on the phone long enough for cops to arrive at the Daily News building and then, eventually, she ends up following them to the Times offices. This is where the story gets in a nice, subtle dig at the Times‘ newish digs:
“I told [NYPD Sgt. Hassiem] Michel, ‘You know, I’ve never been here, but my husband works in the sports department.’
“I had been briefed on the elevators. You push a button outside for your floor. You get in. There are no numbered buttons inside, but the elevator is supposed to know where you are going.
“We pushed a button for 5. We got in. Nothing happened. We waited. Nothing.
“A man came around. ‘This one isn’t working.’
“We found one that was and rode up. We stepped into a hallway where there were a lot of police officers in all kinds of uniforms.”
The Post also has a follow-up on the climber, with the clever headline “CLIMB-ATE CHANGE.” Its dig at the Times is much more overt–a small sidebar suggesting that the way to stop these daredevils is, “Instead of arresting climbers, offer them free Times subscriptions as punishment.”
The best quote regarding any of this mess, however, comes from Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Richard Weinberg, who told Malone at his arraignment, “You want to kill yourself, find some nice quiet bridge in Connecticut in some hick town with no one around.”
The Times removed nine feet of the ceramic slats surrounding the building yesterday in a further attempt to dissuade potential climbers.