NYPD helped Mort Zuckerman–8 years later, his paper shills for NYPD spying

(Photo: Business Insider)

Mortimer Zuckerman, the media mogul who owns the New York Daily News, is so well-connected that he once had New York Police Department (NYPD) intelligence agents conduct “counter-surveillance” of people who were following him (see Phil Weiss’ post for more).

Considering the Daily News’ non-stop praise for whatever the NYPD does, it’s worth asking this question: does the Daily News’ love for the NYPD have something to do with the preferential treatment showered on Zuckerman?

Leonard Levitt, the independent journalist who broke the story, writes:

Ever wonder why the Daily News runs all those editorials deifying the NYPD, even as the department arrested the paper’s own reporters during the Occupy Wall Street protests?

Or why these editorials praise the NYPD’s fight against terrorism in such slavish terms that not even the News’s own readers believe them? [See NYPD Confidential, Dec. 19, 2011.]


The answer may lie in documents (pdf here) provided to NYPD Confidential that show the lengths the NYPD has gone to cultivate and indulge powerful media figures such as the Daily News’s owner and Fox News’s president.

But even without the NYPD’s personal favors to Zuckerman (which is itself outrageous), the Daily News would probably still sing the praises of the NYPD’s constitutionally suspect practice of spying on Muslims. The praise for the spying aimed at Muslims (and left-wing activists) dovetail with Zuckerman’s neoconservative views on the Middle East and national security.

In light of Levitt’s report showing that the NYPD conducted “counter-surveillance” for Zuckerman, it’s a good time to examine the Daily News’ “slavish” (in Levitt’s words) praise for the NYPD’s spying on Muslims–and where they’re wrong.

Zuckerman’s paper has lauded Public Advocate Bill de Blasio for pronouncing the “NYPD not guilty of spying on Muslims”; described the intelligence division’s efforts as simply “checking out facts that are in the public record”; and mocked the Associated Press investigation into the NYPD tactics as “hilarious” instead of disturbing.

The distortions of what the NYPD spy program is go on and on.

In those editorials, the Daily News repeatedly characterizes the NYPD’s surveillance targeting day to day aspects of Muslim life in the city as innocuous. And the paper lambastes anyone who characterizes such efforts as “spying.”

NYPD intelligence agents simply, in the News’ world, collect public information to keep tabs on potential terrorists. But we know that’s not the full story.

It’s absurd to see the paper mock those who call the NYPD intelligence unit activities what they are: spying. What else do you call it when intelligence agents infiltrate mosques and record the content of sermons to be kept in a secret dossier?

Some of the information the NYPD collected was indeed public, as the Daily News notes, but the retaining of that information is legally suspect under the guidelines the NYPD operate under.

Additionally, as Glenn Greenwald noted, “much of the information was not at all ‘public’ but was compiled through infiltration and spying.” An undercover agent joining a Muslim student group’s trip to go rafting, and recording their activities in a secret dossier to be kept on file, is not simply collecting public information. Similarly, NYPD officers “eavesdropping” on conversations in mosques cannot be categorized as collecting public information. It’s about destroying “the private lives of Muslim citizens,” as Brooklyn College professor Moustafa Bayoumi told the AP.

Zuckerman’s chummy relationship with the NYPD should cast doubt on the accuracy of Daily News editorializing about spying on Muslims. At the very least, people should know that Zuckerman has a personal interest in pleasing the NYPD.  

About Alex Kane

Alex Kane is an assistant editor for Mondoweiss and the World editor for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Media, Middle East, US Politics, War on Terror | Tagged , ,

{ 5 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. RE: “Considering the Daily News’ non-stop praise for whatever the NYPD does, it’s worth asking this question: does the Daily News’ love for the NYPD have something to do with the preferential treatment showered on Zuckerman?” ~ Alex Kane

    RESPONSE: Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! Blood libel! Anti-Semite! [ad nauseam]

    P.S. FROM THE “Hasbara Handbook”, pages 22-23:

    • Name Calling
    Through the careful choice of words, the name calling technique links a person or an idea to a negative symbol. Creating negative connotations by name calling is done to try and get the audience to reject a person or idea on the basis of negative associations, without allowing a real examination of that person or idea. The most obvious example is name calling — “they are a neo-Nazi group” tends to sound pretty negative to most people. More subtly, name calling works by selecting words with subtle negative meanings for some listeners. For example, describing demonstrators as “youths” creates a different impression from calling them “children”.
    For the Israel activist, it is important to be aware of the subtly different meanings that well chosen words give. Call “demonstrations” “riots”, many Palestinian political organizations “terror organizations”, and so on. . .
    . . . Name calling is hard to counter. Don’t allow opponents the opportunity to engage in point scoring. Whenever “name calling” is used, think about referring to the same thing (e.g. Gilo), but with a more favorable description (e.g. “suburb”). Consider calling settlements “communities” or “villages”. Use the same names back; if somebody talks about Sharon’s “war crimes”, talk about Arafat’s war crimes and involvement in terror. . .

    SOURCE: “HASBARA HANDBOOK: Promoting Israel on Campus” (March 2002) , published by the World Union of Jewish Students – link to scribd.com

  2. Sin Nombre says:

    Oh, at least Zuckerman is being consistent: He’d be praising the NYPD for its muslim spying anyway.

    Want an even richer one? See today Mayor Bloomberg calling American self-defense laws such as the Stand Your Ground one in Florida a “license to murder” and an excuse for “vigilante justice.”

    (link to politico.com)

    See just a year ago or so Mayor Bloomberg shilling for the incredibly heavily and indeed officially armed settlers in the occupied territories—where their very *presence* is illegal—so much so that Bloomberg was saying he might not be able to support Obama because of what Obama was merely *hinting* at then as regards to same and what Israel’s borders should be and etc.

    (link to newyork.cbslocal.com)

    So let’s see, today for us self-defense laws are are “not the kind of laws a civilized society should have,” but if you’re Israeli, parked on illegal land, well my God do you ever need those Uzis….

    Seems to me some ‘discriminatin’ is goin’ on in the mind of Mayor Bloomberg. Of the “us” and “you” type.

    And none of us Americans are supposed to notice this.

  3. LeaNder says:

    It would be interesting to take a closer look at, how the New York Daily News treated the Debbie Almontaser case.

    Their central Almontaser link slightly puzzles me?

    How is Caribbean talent and and this piece related to Almontaser?

    City Briefs: Bullied boy’s ma sues
    Posted on 2008-03-04 01:59:08
    A mother who blamed schoolhouse bullies for her son’s 2006 suicide plunge into the East River Monday sued the city for $10 million. Read More

  4. dahoit says:

    Didn’t the prior owner of the NYDN get pushed overboard at sea?(Another Zionist)Did Zuckerman have a billet on that ship?Maybe that’s why he gives the cops all that dough?

  5. It’s like a media class of Sayanim.

    Victor Ostrovsky had it right.

    link to archive.org