Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Death of a Myth

Sometimes we just want to believe heroic tales and not think about whether a story has been embellished. This certainly is one of those occasions.
For days, the dramatic story gripped the nation: Cesar Borja, a retired NYPD officer who had worked at Ground Zero after 9/11, died of pulmonary fibrosis just hours before his son and namesake - campaigning for ailing first-responders - was a guest at President Bush's State of the Union Address.

Days later, the younger Borja met with the president, who pledged an additional $25 million in federal aid (on top of the $75 million already allocated) for first-responders.

High drama?

Try hype, courtesy of The Daily News, the circulation-starved daily which had seemingly gotten its hooks into a good one.

But now comes the unvarnished truth, thanks to The New York Times, and genuine public-service reporting by Sewell Chan and Al Baker.

"The Daily News [had] published an article describing how Officer Borja had rushed to the trade center site after the twin towers fell, breathing in clouds of toxic dust that seared his lungs, and how he had chosen not to wear protective gear because the federal government had declared the air safe," the Times reported yesterday.

" 'It's not true,' Eva R. Borja, the officer's wife, said of the Daily News account," the Times reported.
Read the rest.

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