Curious Omissions from a New York Times Story on a Foreclosure Auction Protest

As readers may know, we’ve reported from time to time on efforts by community members to block specific foreclosure auctions, since this is a sign of how citizens place much less stock in the credibility of banks and legal procedures than they once did.

So we took interest in a report in the New York Times on an effort to block a foreclosure auction in Brooklyn that resulted in 9 arrests. The article made much of the fact that the protestors sang to disrupt the auction. Key extracts:

It was just after 3 p.m. Thursday in a second-floor courtroom in Brooklyn when an auctioneer announced to a crowd of about 60 people that she would begin selling foreclosed properties…..

The interruption in business as usual at the State Supreme Court building on Adams Street was staged by Organizing for Occupation, a coalition of housing advocacy groups that recently helped halt the eviction of an 82-year-old woman in Bedford-Stuyvesant in a foreclosure proceeding that the woman and her supporters said resulted unjustly from a subprime loan…

Just before 3:30, court officers announced that anyone who did not clear the courtroom would be arrested. Most of the crowd got up and departed, but about 10 singers remained. A moment later, they emerged from the courtroom into a corridor, cuffed, escorted by court officers and still singing…

Inside, spectators and would-be bidders sat on wooden benches in a hallway as they waited for the auction to resume. Among them was Michael Nicholas, 50, from Ridgewood, Queens, who said that he had been attending foreclosure auctions in Brooklyn for a decade but had never before witnessed a choir take over the courtroom.

“I was expecting the auction to begin,” he said. “Then instead I got the chorus line.”

So the protest is made to seem entertaining, harmless (if annoying to people who wanted to conduct business), and quixotic. After all, the protestors were arrested and nothing got done, right?

If you read the more colorfully written account of the same incident at the Village Voice, you’ll see the Times made some crucial omissions. The first is that the foreclosure was under dispute and may have been proceeding improperly:

Morales said that, though negotiations are reportedly on-going between Ward, the man who bought her house, the bank who sold it to him, and the state Attorney General’s office, Ms. Ward is still facing eviction. Last Tuesday, the day before a planned meeting of these parties, the current “alleged” landlord served Ms. Ward with another eviction notice, breaking the lock on her front door to get in and post it. Morales called for a renewed effort towards Ms. Ward’s “eviction patrol.”

The Voice also reports that the protest did succeed in preventing the foreclosure on Thursday. It ins’t clear whether it will be rescheduled to tomorrow, delayed further, or whether the court will decide to seek another resolution. But the effort in the courtroom did achieve a measure of success, while the Times account would lead you to believe otherwise. It’s sort of sad to see that the need to watch out for the interests of the Masters of the Universe has reached the New York Times metro desk.

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    1. Todd

      Hey! Without NPR how could my children get to hear
      about Ira Glass’ boyfriend as we drive the kids to
      school? I like to hear the comforting voices of women
      with multiple-hyphenated names reading safe news.

      1. em

        By “comforting” I assume you mean the trademark NPR nasal patronizing Romper Room sing-song. It makes me gag and want to kick something.

        1. YankeeFrank

          Yes, and that uber-douche “kai ryssdal” on marketplace is the most unctuous idiot to ever spew economic propaganda. He knows nothing yet takes on that idiot disbelieving tone whenever anything even close to the truth is uttered on his goldman-sachs dicksuck of a program.

          1. mookie

            Very true. Kai daily shovels shit with a smile on his face. Unfortunately, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about his agreeable cluelessness; he’s the audio version of Dealbook.

            Just to say one positive thing about the person: his Mandarin is very good for a non-native speaker.

  1. jake chase

    Expecting the truth from the NYT is like expecting Democratic politicians to keep campaign promises made to the voters (as opposed to the contributors). I have not read this rag since 1986, when its coverage of Guilliani’s crusade against insider trading convinced me its reporters and editors had no clue wtf was going on. The funniest thing going is to read a Times story concerning a subject one actually knows about. Not reading the Times has saved me at least $14,981.25 over the past 25 years, and that does not take into account price increases concerning which I naturally have no information. Have I missed anything?

  2. Goin' South

    TPTB–and that certainly includes the NYT–cannot allow the 99% to have a victory, no matter how small or how temporary. If we start to win one now and then, we might get even more uppity.

    It will be very interesting to see how the OWS victory over the last 24 hours is played in the press.

  3. Robert Asher

    The NYT has a tradition: a tradition of slanted reporting of all mass action events. During the last 1960s and early 1970s NYT reports on anti-Vietnam War demonstrations always suggested that demonstrators had attacked the police. Reporting the civil rights activism of the same era, the Times presented only the tip of the iceberg. There might be 30 civil rights actions around the US on a given day; the Times would report one or two, with NO hint of the extent of the other actions. (I used to check the AP ticker to verify this.)

  4. Sufferin' Succotash

    Well, everyone has to admit that stopping foreclosures does sound a bit dated, like something out of the 1930s. Like you keep expecting Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell to show up. I mean really, what is this, a depression?

  5. fresno dan

    “Curious Omissions”
    Its not the questions asked that shows your ideology, its the questions not asked.
    Its not what Dems and Repubs disagree about, its what they agree about….which is never discussed, because that would spoil the “narrative” AKA, media tells a story like professional wrestling is scripted entertainment.

  6. patrick

    In 1926 Einstein, in a discussion on physics, said to Heisenberg “it is theory that determines what can be observed”. That is the rule that the MSM follows when selecting what stories and what facts from those stories to report. Any story, or facts, that fail to conform to the prevailing theory are rejected. Just as facts that contradict the prevailing economic theory are seldom investigated and widely published.

    What you read in any particular newspaper is what the publisher wishes you to know, not what there is to know. And certainly not what you need to know.

  7. Anarcissie

    I was kind of surprised by the line about the interests of the Masters of the Universe reaching the NYT Metro desk. I gave up reading the Times long ago when I could no longer stand their entitled-vicious attitudes toward the homeless, the poor, and the unions and their members, and their persistent lying about them. Was there some kind of unaccountable hiatus?

      1. just me

        I was the 303rd person to watch it when I posted that comment, and then I went out. Now I’m back and it’s been seen 2,891 times. All in a few hours.

          1. just me

            Now viewed 7,034 times

            Mrs. Auctioneer, all the people here
            we’re asking you to hold all the sales right now
            we’re going to survive but we don’t know how

  8. em

    Sidney Schanberg, on leaving the NYT in the 80s, described it as nothing more than “a shopping guide for yuppies.”

  9. Susan the other

    Actually it is a situation regarding 3 separate felonies: the first illegal conveyance; the second illegal conveyance; and the third illegal conveyance.

  10. just me

    The omission I was most curious about was, what song were they singing? The Village Voice had this description…

    But inside, there were about 10 people still belting out an original song they’d composed, “Mr. Auctioneer,” at the top of their lungs. They were harmonizing beautifully, and the guards (who outnumbered them two to one) looked flummoxed and stunned as the music rang off the acoustically accommodating wooden walls. The judge was absent.

    …and a 30-second embedded youtube “Lawyer Karen Gargamelli arrested.” She’s singing Mr. Auctioneer as the guard leads her down the hallway. I searched on youtube for Mr. Auctioneer and here it is: — I wonder if #OWS can sing? I wonder if it’ll go viral? 270 views so far.

  11. lhfree

    “…block specific foreclosure auctions, since this is a sign of how citizens place much less stock in the credibility of banks and legal procedures than they once did…”

    Wrong. The protests to block foreclosure auctions are not a sign of a popular distrust of banks and courts. Instead, the protests to block auctions are a small, organized attempt by people who don’t want to pay their bills to have a free place to stay. The protests are a sign of weakening moral American character as they illustrate a growing sense of entitlement among some people who feel their owed more and more.

    1. Nathanael

      Are you a parody of a right-wing idiot?

      The protests to block *illegal* foreclosure auctions are a sign that the American character is finally showing some backbone: that Americans are finally willing to demand their rights, that they refuse to have their homes taken by criminals who have committed fraud in order to attempt to steal houses which they have no legal claim to all. They illustrate that people finally are starting to realize that they *are* entitled to justice.

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