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The Book of the Week is “His Eminence and Hizzoner” by John Cardinal O’Connor and mayor Edward I. Koch, published in 1989. As might be recalled, at the book’s writing, O’Connor had recently been named a Cardinal in the Catholic Church. Koch was New York City’s mayor, starting in 1978. Each man took turns expressing his views on various hot-button political issues such as abortion, the separation of Church and State, discrimination, education, healthcare, etc.
In the 1980’s, when Americans began to receive tens of cable TV channels, the outrageously concentrated power and influence of the Catholic Church and media outlets such as the New York Times began to wane.
Indications of this include:
- Prior to then, every year on Christmas day and Easter Sunday, the Pope delivered a speech televised on the three major TV networks, ABC, NBC and CBS. He was on all the channels. Present-day Americans have infinite educational and entertainment choices on these Christian holidays, around which crass commercialism, endless religious discussions, and stressful family gatherings revolve.
- The New York Times‘ reviews- (of performing-arts productions, architecture, and other cultural goings-on in New York City among intellectuals) had extremely wide readership among influencers who would help attract or repel early attendees through word-of-mouth. This fed on itself to, say, close a show, or spur its longevity. The reviews were that influential. Fortunately, times have changed.
In another example, in the book from former American president Donald Trump, The Art of the Deal, Koch wrote about how Trump bragged about meeting with the Times‘ lead reviewer of architecture, Ada Louise Huxtable. That meeting led her to write a glowing article that put undue influence on the City Planning Commission. In this way, in building Trump Tower, Trump received especially advantageous structural and financial terms and conditions from the city government, that other developers didn’t get. And future developers wouldn’t get them either, due to zoning changes.
With respect to financial help from the government, Koch believed poverty programs for instance, should have lent money to small businesses, regardless of the ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. of the parties involved, to provide equal opportunity for everyone who was economically disadvantaged. He thought of “affirmative action” as helping people who had suffered or were suffering discrimination, by making them aware of jobs and education programs, but not giving them favorable treatment through setting quotas for their acceptance or hiring.
Read the book to learn much more about the views of the cardinal and the mayor, in their time and place– the 1980’s.