But reporters Michael Barbaro and Javier Hernandez actually led with NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's weepy speech about religious tolerance, falsely asserting that that denying permission to build a 13-story Islamic center topped by a mosque would somehow be "denying the very constitutional rights" that New York City police and firefighters died protecting.
And the Times again insinuated that opposition to the mosque is coming mostly from outsiders, while New Yorkers have gotten on with their lives and don't oppose it -- a half-truth at best, as shown by results of a poll of New Yorkers.
Times reporters were very impressed with the speech. Both Jodi Kantor and Brian Stelter linked to speech coverage on their Twitter feeds, Kantor calling it a "must-read" and Stelter calling it "worth reading."
Here's the Times's lead:
As New York City removed the final hurdle for a controversial mosque near ground zero, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg forcefully defended the project on Tuesday as a symbol of America's religious tolerance and sought to reframe a fiery national debate over the project.
The New York Times continues its delicate, sympathetic coverage of NYC-centric Muslim issues with its treatment of the controversy over the Cordoba House, a proposed Muslim community center, to be topped by a mosque, that would be raised at the sight of the World Trade Center.
Wednesday's Metro section story by Javier Hernandez, "Planned Sign of Tolerance Bringing Division Instead" certainly made a lot of positive-sounding assumptions (starting with the headline) about the ideas behind the mosque, but failed to probe the secret details of the financiers behind it or to question the propriety of building an Islamic worship site at the same spot where thousands were murdered by radical Muslims in the name of Islam.
The Cordoba House was supposed to be a monument to religious tolerance, an homage to the city in Spain where Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived together centuries ago in the midst of religious foment.