From October 22 to November 30, in 1878, a large fair was held in the Cathedral of Saint Patrick in New York City before its dedication. It took advantage of the magnificent open space before pews were installed to the distress of the architect, James Renwick, who objected that Protestant furniture had no place in a Catholic shrine. Renwick was a Protestant himself, but also an aesthetic purist and an Anglican, and no Puritan; however, Archbishop McCloskey needed money and, as with having a fundraising fair, renting pews out was a way to get it.
Six months earlier, and exactly one block north in her huge mansion on the same side of Fifth Avenue, Madame Restell had reclined in her bathtub and slit her throat. She left a fortune of over twelve million dollars in today’s money, after a career as the nation’s most notorious abortionist. Not unfamiliar with prison, her dismal career had been haunted by what we would now call investigative journalists in the employ of The New York Times. Founded in 1851, the “Gray Lady” became the journal of the new Republican Party and helped with the demolition of the corrupt Tweed Ring.
Times change, even for The New York Times, which over more recent years has abandoned its foundational moral rectitude. Although not proud of its whitewashing of the Ukraine famine and Stalin’s show trials by the complicit reporter Walter Duranty, the newspaper has not yet renounced his Pulitzer Prize, nor has it demurred from the praise heaped on it by Fidel Castro when he visited their editorial office in a gesture of thanks for their support. There was also that problem with Jayson Blair’s plagiarism, and the misrepresentation of the young men falsely accused of sexual violence at Duke University. The latter bears some resemblance to the recent incident in our nation’s capital when youths from Covington Catholic High School were accused of racist bullying. But The New York Times has had the decency, along with some others, to regret the haste with which it moved to condemn the innocent.
Read more at Crisis Magazine.