The 'I' Word: Today Show Still Can't Bring Itself to Call NYC Strike Illegal

December 21st, 2005 7:02 AM

When it comes to the Transport Workers Union strike in NYC, the Today show just can't bring itself to pronounce the 'I' word, for illegal.

In contrast with his reticent Today show appearance yesterday, this morning NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg took off the verbal gloves, repeatedly condemning the union for its illegal strike, which violates the Taylor Law prohibiting public employees in New York from striking. Among other things, Bloomberg stated that striking union members would be fined two days pay for every day the strike lasts.

But whereas Today expressed concern for the plight of commuters and the city's economy, and Katie made sympathetic noises in her interview of Bloomberg, the show remained terribly bashful when it came to reporting the undeniable fact that the strike is illegal.

Neither Katie nor any of the other suddenly-demure Today crew ever uttered the 'I' word.

Lester Holt came the closest, indicating that a judge had found the Transport Workers Union "in contempt" and had imposed fines on it. But in contempt of what? Holt informed us only that the union had been found in contempt "of court". For all we knew from Holt, it could have been for picket lines too close to schools. No mention of the strike's illegality, no word of the Taylor Law.

When Katie concluded the coverage by observing: "it is really a difficult situation," she probably had in mind the plight of the city.

But her comment aptly applied to Today itself, as the show tiptoes around the intractable fact that a union is blatantly violating the law in a way that causes hundreds of millions of dollars of damage daily, with much of the brunt being borne by lower-income New Yorkers suddenly without jobs or unable to get to them.