When the National Review attacks

Our friends at NRO are not happy about our reporting that Rudy Giuliani spent twice as much time going to Yankees games as at ground zero after 9/11. Not happy at all.

Published August 22, 2007 10:45AM (EDT)

Wow, the guys over at National Review Online are steamed about Alex Koppelman's reporting that Rudy Giuliani spent twice as much time going to Yankees games (58 hours) as at ground zero (29 hours, according to the New York Times) in the months after 9/11. Three different NRO posters weighed in so far today with three different ways of misrepresenting the piece.

Jim Geraghty kicked it off this morning by getting his facts wrong, while accusing us of getting our facts wrong. That's never good. Geraghty claimed the mayor of 9/11 only took one round-trip plane ride to Arizona for the last two 2001 World Series games, but as Koppelman documented, newspapers reported at the time that Giuliani actually flew back and forth twice to attend games six and seven. In an updated post, Geraghty concedes we did the math right, but insists we were wrong to include travel time to Arizona, since the numbers wouldn't have looked as bad if the World Series had been in, say, Philadelphia or even at Shea Stadium.

I think it's perfectly reasonable to factor in the mayor's travel time and observe that he spent almost as much time on airplanes to get to Yankees games (22 hours, by our calculations) as he did at ground zero. Someone else might have skipped those far-away away games. Now we understand his priorities. It's also worth noting that the mayor came back to New York to deal with the opening of the New York Marathon but also an anthrax incident at City Hall. It would seem that if the anthrax crisis was worth coming back to New York for, it might have been worth staying in New York for, not merely showing up, jet-lagged, and hopping back on a plane for game seven. But then I'm not the mayor of 9/11.

Next Jonah Goldberg linked to Geraghty and called our piece a "cheap shot." Goldberg, typically, misses the point, insisting "no New Yorker -- as far as I am aware -- begrudged the mayor of New York going to the World Series when the Yankees were playing." We don't think people begrudged Giuliani the solace of a Yankees game. But they do begrudge his bragging "I was at ground zero as often, if not more, than most of the workers ... I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I'm one of them." That led the Times to look at how much time Giuliani actually spent at ground zero (which, to be fair, did not include the first five days after the attack), which led us to look at what else Giuliani was spending his time on in those sad months after 9/11. Sorry, Jonah, your boy is a serial bragger and exaggerator, and his mouth is going to be the undoing of his campaign, no matter how much you NRO guys try to defend him.

Finally, Greg Pollowitz quotes a column by the New York Times' Dave Anderson hailing Giuliani for attending Yankees games in the dark days after 9/11. But nobody's quarrelling with his going to Yankees games, guys. The point is that once again, Giuliani wrapped himself in the heroism of 9/11 first responders, many of whom criticize his leadership before and after 9/11, and once again it backfired. Besides, it's not as if Giuliani was making a special effort to show up at Yankees games after 9/11 to help restore civic morale; the guy is a maniac Yankees fan with four World Series rings (and there's some question about how he acquired them) who tried never to miss a post-season game, global crisis or no global crisis. It wasn't some selfless display of moral leadership.

And of course, Dave Anderson's piece from six years ago had nothing to do with the current Giuliani controversy. By contrast, New York Daily News sports writer Mike Lupica cited Koppelman's piece Monday and observed: "Of course this might turn out to be one of those deals where one of the most public New York City mayors in history asks us to respect his privacy." Lupica gets it; the NRO guys, not so much.

By Joan Walsh

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