Friday, June 24, 2005

Self-Interested New York Times

Not surprisingly, the New York Times praised the Kelo decision:

The Supreme Court's ruling yesterday that the economically troubled city of New London, Conn., can use its power of eminent domain to spur development was a welcome vindication of cities' ability to act in the public interest.

Of course, the New York Times editorial board did not reveal the paper's very personal interest in the legal issue. As 60 Minutes reported last year:

And this isn't happening just in small towns. In New York City, just a few blocks from Times Square, New York State has forced a man to sell a corner that his family owned for more than 100 years. And what's going up instead? A courthouse? A school? Nope. The new headquarters of The New York Times.

The world's most prestigious newspaper wants to build a new home on that block, but Stratford Wallace and the block's other property owners didn't want to sell. Wallace told 60 Minutes that the newspaper never tried to negotiate with him. Instead, The Times teamed up with a major real estate developer, and together they convinced New York State to use eminent domain to force Wallace out. How? By declaring the block blighted.

“I challenge them,” says Wallace. “This is not blighted property.”

But New York State's Supreme Court disagreed and ruled that the newspaper's new headquarters would eliminate blight - and that even though a private entity (The New York Times) is the main beneficiary, improving the block would benefit the public. Executives from The New York Times wouldn't talk to 60 Minutes about it on camera.

UPDATE: Either I missed it before or the Times has updated its editorial to acknowledge "The New York Times benefited from eminent domain in clearing the land for the new building it is constructing opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal." I apologize if the error is mine.

UPDATE II: Bird Dog comments that I was right, and that the Times didn't originally have the disclosure in its editorial.