9:38 am Feb. 1, 20131
In a special media feature today, we'll be keeping track of the ongoing coverage of the death of Mayor Edward I. Koch early this morning. Keep coming back to find more; tweet links you think we should be following to the attention of @joepompeo or @tmcgev, and we'll keep adding 'em.
The news of the death of Ed Koch first broke with the Associated Press, which carried a statement from long-time Koch spokesperson and confidant George Arzt. But as always with a big, breaking news story, the first point of reference quickly became The New York Times. Here, you can read the long (5,500-word), encyclopedic lede-all obituary by Bob McFadden.
If you were one of the many readers who noticed that the word "AIDS" appeared only once in the original version of the article, you should go back in again. The Times has revised the article, adding in three paragraphs covering Koch's controversial approach to the epidemic. Here's the stand-out paragraph though:
Mr. Koch was also harshly criticized for what was called his slow, inadequate response to the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Hundreds of New Yorkers were desperately ill and dying in a baffling public health emergency, and critics, especially in the gay community, accused him of being a closeted homosexual reluctant to confront the crisis for fear of being exposed.
Also at The New York Times, a video obituary in its "Last Word" series; the main interview was filmed several years ago, intended for release after his death. Some highlights: He has never quite forgiven the Cuomos, Mario nor Andrew, for the "Vote for Cuomo, not the homo" placard campaign. "Underneath," he says, "they know what I'm thinking: 'you prick.'" And lots more.
More from the Times:
City Room is curating the day in tweets and comments to the main obituary, mostly civilians and reporters remembering meeting Koch and such, alongside moments from and photos of his life, before, during and after the Mayoralty.
A review of the documentary Koch, by Neil Barsky, which opens today, from Times critic Tony Scott. Excerpt:
It is hardly an uncritical account of Mr. Koch’s dozen years as mayor, but time has a way of turning the furious political battles of the past into amusing war stories, and of softening old enmities. Politicians, civic leaders and journalists who were thorns in Mr. Koch’s side offer measured, even affectionate assessments of his administration, though some hard feelings persist, especially on matters of race.
Read it here.
The other go-to is NY1, if you're in a position to watch the television. The local 24-hour cable-news channel is devoting itself for now to wall-to-wall coverage of the late Mayor. Reporter Grace Rauh has put together the main obituary feature, with Pat Kiernan anchoring and assists from "Inside City Hall" host Errol Louis and political director Bob Hardt. As always, the call-ins are amazing. We've had everyone already from Al D'Amato, David Dinkins, and more; this is where the editorial page editors and old beat reporters are actually getting to put their stamp on the story first.
"Inside City Hall" is extended to two hours tonight, and will be devoted to the Mayor's legacy.
Here's what everyone else is up to:
New York Post: The Post reported on the death early, but with thin sourcing other journalists (including NY1 reporters) couldn't confirm until the statement from Arzt. But it means they've been churning it out full-speed ahead. The notoriously backward web operation managed to break the homepage with a full-size hero at the top of the page:
But one vast lede-all obituary, gang written by Post staff, is the only real attraction so far. Excerpt:
The larger-than-life Koch, who breezed through the streets of New York flashing his signature thumbs-up sign, won a national reputation with his feisty style. "How'm I doing?" was his trademark question to constituents, although the answer mattered little to Koch. The mayor always thought he was doing wonderfully.
WPIX-11: In addition to continuing coverage the station is running this obituary segment, which we're not embedding just because we can't disable autoplay. There is also this call-in from Arzt this morning, describing the mayor's last moments:
ASSOCIATED PRESS: Video here:
CBS: Rob Morrison and Mary Calvi spoke by phone with Koch's rabbi, Arthur Schneier:
Tidbits from across the web:
At Poynter, a reminder that he finalized his burial and funeral plans back in 2008, when he described the self-written epitaph for his tombstone, which quotes murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He told the Associated Press then that he was "moved that Pearl chose to affirm his faith and heritage in his last moments."
His funeral will be, naturally, open to the press. It's on Monday, at Temple Emanu-El.
Here's the trailer for the Neil Barsky Koch documentary that hits theaters today:
Our own Reid Pillifant has a nice reflection written for the occasion of the documentary. Excerpt:
When I spoke to him in 2010, he told me the only thing he held against Andrew Cuomo was that he killed the Liberal Party with his 2002 candidacy. And the film shows Koch endorsing Andrew Cuomo in 2010, when he was leading a push for nonpartisan redistricting. (Cuomo agreed to that reform during the campaign, then ended up signing off on a gerrymandered electoral map as part of a larger deal with the State Senate Republicans.) But the old tensions flare up later, when Koch calls Cuomo a "schmuck" after he's denied a chance to see the governor-elect at his Cuomo's victory party. The director's notes for the film say only two people declined to be interviewed about Koch, and one was a former governor.
This morning, our own Azi Paybarah managed to get in a question for Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a scrum with reporters. Among the Governor's off-the-cuff observations: "He was bigger than life. He was in your face. He was an ethnic. He was not here to blend in." Click through for video.
The New Yorker is repromoting (and it's in front of the paywall) a December interview with Koch. Notable among other things: Koch had viewed the documentary already by then, and found nothing to object to.
In an eerie coincidence, a venture capital group today announced the sale of its Manhattan Newspaper Group, which includes the community papers West Side Spirit and Our Town. As the Journal's Keach Hagey notes in her story on the sale, Koch had "long written" a movie column for the two publications. (Not mentioned: He also used to write a column for sister title New York Press.)
Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith, better known to many of us as an ace New York politics reporter, exhumes the obituary he wrote way back when for the now-shuttered New York Sun with permission from his old boss. It's broad and encyclopedic, and nicely done. And it's also notable for a subtle methodological difference from most of the rest of the coverage today: He applies a lighter brush to the question of Koch's relationship with Black and Latino voters:
Koch had alienated black leaders from the start. He had attacked the politicized administrators of federal anti-poverty money as "poverty pimps" and stood openly against affirmative action programs. He had been quoted musing that "the black community is very anti-Semitic" and "whites are basically anti-black." In his first term, he had closed an under-used Harlem hospital over the vocal protests of black leaders.
But in his first two races, Koch had proven popular among black voters, and in the 1983 Democratic primary he won about as many black votes as a black rival. The Howard Beach killing helped set the stage for New York's first black mayor, David Dinkins, to defeat Koch in the 1989 Democratic primary on a platform of racial reconciliation.
In other words: Koch's strains were with prominent Black leaders; the Black voting public took three terms to follow.
At The New York Observer, The Politicker blog is going wall-to-wall pretty much, carrying items including prominent New York politicos remembering Koch (and a bonus for media people: "How Ed Koch Helped Make Nikki Finke a Reporter"). For my part, they get the hat tip on this Al Sharpton quote, which was released in a statement: “Although we argued about everything from my marching in Bensonhurst, to Florida and Trayvon Martin, and although we disagreed on politics from his views on President Obama to other matters, I have found that he was never a phony or a hypocrite."
Over at The Awl, Choire Sicha unspools a nice succinct stream of anecdotes with just enough context to amount to a typically subtle point of view on the man, including the statement (which I expect we will hear more about as the day progresses) that "[his] inattentiveness to AIDS was at least part of this third-term removal from the day-to-day running of the city."
Veteran city politics reporter Maggie Haberman is up at Politico with a nice broad obit, in which she (rightly, and with a disclosure) quotes her father, long-time formerTimes city columnist Clyde Haberman. Her own observations are just as on point.
—Joe Pompeo contributed to this article