Thursday, March 30, 2006

NYT Exploits 911 Callers

The New York Times is framing this story as if it's engaged in a noble effort.

I think it's exploitative and hurtful. In other words, it's typical NYT fodder.

The Times went to court to get the names released of 911 callers trapped in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Naturally, there are family members that consider the publication of their loved ones' names to be an invasion of privacy.

Unfortunately for the families, on Wednesday, Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Richard F. Braun ruled in favor of the Times. The names are set to be released on Friday, along with 9/11 tapes and transcripts.

From the Associated Press:

Times lawyer David McCraw said the ruling involves 28 names mentioned in calls to 911 operators the day the World Trade Center was destroyed.

Courts had already directed the release of the operators' side of the calls, McCraw said. In some calls the operators spoke the callers' names, and those are the names the judge ordered released.

"We were pleased that the judge agreed with us," McCraw said. "Getting as full a picture as possible is important for historians, for family members, for reporters and for the public."

The Times is pleased. How nice!

What about the privacy of the families? Why was it so important to the Times that these names be made known?

Publicly revealing the names of the individuals can only cause more pain for the families.

The city law department said it would appeal the ruling immediately, saying that it intended to try to protect the privacy of the 911 callers and their families.
The Times is showing no respect for the families of these 9/11 victims. The city is trying to spare the families further anguish, but the Times doesn't care. For some inexplicable reason, it needs names.

Compare the AP's take on the matter, with the way the Times spins it.

After relaying one of the calls, Jim Dwyer of the Times writes:

Tomorrow, the city is scheduled to release all the calls from the towers, but with the voices of the callers erased, leaving only the operators' sides of the communications. The city won court approval for this approach by arguing that the privacy of the callers should be protected. Yesterday, acting on a request by The New York Times, a state judge in Manhattan said that the city must leave in the names of the callers if the operators mentioned them. The city plans to appeal.

"[A]cting on a request by The New York Times."

The paper sued for the information. The way Dwyer writes this, the "request" sounds more like a "pretty please" than a court battle.

Considering how bent out of shape the libs at the Times are about privacy and the government prying into people's lives, it is disgusting that they would fight the families of victims to get names.

For many of those closest to the day, the release of the tapes is yet another Sisyphean moment in the march away from Sept. 11, in which every step forward in time seems to be matched by one that sends them lurching back toward the day again.

Who sent them "lurching back" and off a healing path?

Doesn't Dwyer see how twisted and sick that is?

These libs are clueless and thoughtless and selfish.

Dwyer then presents more of the heart-wrenching 911 pleas for help.

This seems like such a violation to me. Having the names of the callers is not necessary for historians, or reporters, or the public. There is no reason to attach a victim's name to a call.

It adds no value to our understanding of what happened on 9/11.

It does have the potential to open wounds and cause more suffering for family members struggling to heal.

And for what?


April 1, 2006

To clarify:

I understand the relevance of public access to the tapes of the 911 calls placed on 9/11, for the purpose of addressing inadequacies in the emergency assistance system. It most definitely is an issue of public safety. In that sense, the NYT's lawsuit can be seen as having some merit in terms of the common good.

What I have a problem with, and what my post is about, is the fact that the NYT wants the NAMES of the callers. The paper is even appealing the temporary stay granted by a State Supreme Court judge to withhold the victims' names.

Although some families welcome the release of their loved one's name and 911 call, others do not want their names to be made public. They feel this is a violation of privacy.

Certainly, the names of the actual callers are not necessary to reveal the inadequacies in the system.

My concern is for the families' privacy.

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