It's been over a week now since the news hit the news that NY Post reporter Laura Italiano resigned because she'd been "ordered" to create some fake news. That fake news was an article making the claim that undocumented children arriving in the US were being given a goody bag that included Kamala Harris' 2019 kids' book, Superheroes Are Everywhere.
Superheroes everywhere? Ah, would that it were true.
Anyway, here's some of how the real news on the fake news came out:
“The Kamala Harris story — an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against — was my breaking point,” Laura Italiano tweeted Tuesday [April 27th] afternoon, several hours after her viral article about the books had been deleted from the Post’s website and replaced with corrected versions. (Source: Washington Post)
The real news behind the fake news was that some folks in Long Beach, California, had run a drive to collect items - clothing, toys, books - to be stuffed into 'welcome kits' for these poor kiddos, and someone donated a copy of the VP's book.
By the time Italiano spilled the tea, her story had been out for a few days and the right-wing rage factory - including Fox "News", ultra-righties like Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep Jim Jordan, and the amazingly awful Ronna Romney McDaniel of the amazingly awful RNC - had been in the highest of dudgeon-y dudgeons. The braying was predictable. Can you imagine if a Republican had squandered taxpayer money to buy a book like this? Is Harris personally profiting from Joe Biden's border crisis?
Also by the time Italiano spilled the tea: the Washington Post Fact Checker had debunked her story.
So her reaction was just a tad bit delayed.
It goes without saying that I can, of course, imagine a Republican squandering taxpayer money on all sorts of pocket-lining grifts. It pretty much also goes without saying that The New York Post, a right-wing rag that used to be NYC's ultra-liberal tabloid, is owned by none other than Rupert Murdoch.
And, of course, there is something so delish about McDaniel moaning and huffing about whether or not Harris was making bank if not illicitly, then sneakily.
McDaniel’s tweet is somewhat ironic. The Washington Post reported this month that the RNC used more than $400,000 in donated funds last year to buy copies of books written by Republican authors, potentially generating royalty payments.
Laura Italiano has been at The Post for over 20 years. Given that, it can't have been easy to up and leave. And especially given that newspaper jobs are drying up. Still, one would have wished that, rather than her delayed reaction to this issue, she'd spoken up right away.
Easier said than done, of course. Giving up a paycheck? Outing the colleague who would have been forced to write the false story in her stead if she refused to do the deed? Exposing an organization that you presumably liked, if not loved. Even if it is The Post. Which does have its moments. It's not all tawdry BS.
Twenty year is a long time. In stay-in-one-job terms, it's an eternity. Infinity and beyond.
And Laura Italiano is no kid, either. (Her Linkedin profile is pretty sparse, but if she's been at The Post for 20+ years, she's at least in her mid-forties.) So, harder to look for and find a new gig, when newspaper employment is contracting.
So if quitting isn't exactly a profile in courage - or what passes for such these days - it ain't nothing.
She does have at least one iron in the work fire: a musical.
PERP! is the brainchild of New York Post editor, writer and crime reporter Laura Italiano, who, in true Tabloid fashion, has been living a secret double life as a Thespian.
PERP! is a full-length book musical for six actors, and is currently under development, with Laura writing the book, music and lyrics and longtime arranger-collaborator Dewey Fleszar valiantly turning her cryptic pencil scrawlings into sheet music.
PERP! has had three developmental readings in NYC, including an Equity Cast Reading for the New Works Series of Emerging Artists Theatre. (Source: PERP!)
Not that this is likely to turn into anything, or at least anything that makes any money. (Plot: sweet Midwestern young naif finds herself in court, accused of being a serial puppy killer.) But it's still something.
So good luck, Laura Italiano. However delayed your reaction, you broke whatever code of silence keeps journalists from speaking out/freaking out when they're required to write fake news. Now you've got time to focus on PERP! Why don't you go out and break a leg!