There’s been plenty of praise for the New York Times five-part Invisible Child series that depicted the hellish homeless shelter existence of one Brooklyn family and one remarkable 11-year-old girl named Dasani (after the upscale bottled water).
Now comes the backlash.
From Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page:
Bloomberg’s Real Antipoverty Record
In November 2011, a domestic violence survivor named Joyce B. took her four children and left an abusive partner. Unemployed and now homeless, she turned to New York City for help. The city provided her with shelter, benefits that helped her get back on her feet, job training and placement services that led to her employment as a home health-care aide. This month, with savings from her job, she signed a lease and is moving to her own apartment with her children.
Joyce is one 335,000 formerly homeless New Yorkers who have made the transition to permanent housing during the last 12 years. Each one is a powerful success story of overcoming obstacles.
Last week, the New York Times told readers a different story in a poignant five-part series, titled “Invisible Child,” about a 12-year-old homeless girl named Dasani and her struggles to beat the crushing odds against her and her family in Brooklyn. The ambition of this story, and the extraordinary weight the newspaper put behind it, wasn’t just to depict the plight of a single little girl. It was also a misleading commentary on the tenure of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Admittedly, the authors of the piece – New York deputy mayors Harold Wolfson and Linda Gibbs – have a dog in this fight, but still it’s instructive to add this information to the mix, even given the lies/damned lies/statistics syndrome:
No city in the country has devoted more energy and resources to combating homelessness and poverty than New York City. No mayor has been more personally committed and invested in this fight than Mr. Bloomberg, who in addition to dramatically increasing city spending on antipoverty efforts, has donated more than $320 million of his own money to helping those New Yorkers most at risk of getting trapped in poverty.
Mr. Bloomberg’s last budget allocated $9.2 billion for services for the poor and the homeless—83% more than when he took office, and billions more than any other city in America. That number includes $981 million for services for the homeless, almost double the amount the city spent the year before he took office in 2002.
Not saying who’s right.
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The focus on the man and not the policies gives the Journal piece a slightly fishy smell.
They don’t call it fishwrap for nothing.