Will Jack Newfield's Comrades Finish His Life's Work?
“…The 35 or so columns and news stories he (Jack Newfield) wrote for the Sun recently were about his lifelong obsession: Brooklyn clubhouse corruption. The last interview he did, scrawled in a notebook at his home desk and dated November 15, was about the sale of Brooklyn judgeships…."(Wayne Barrett Eulogy, Village Voice, December 29, 2004)
Jack Newfield has been dead just 18 months now. But Congressional candidate Carl Andrews feels free to disrespect the memory of this giant by suggesting that Jack was some sort of dishonest liar, or a careless, sloppy, bumbling idiot. Carl only escaped with this affront because his remarks were made in an interview conducted by a Sun reporter who probably did not know Jack Newfield’s reputation and was not familiar with his intense and thorough research into the Brooklyn Surrogate Court corruption with which Carl’s name is associated.
Although Jack wrote numerous articles making allegations of wrongdoing against both Carl Andrews and Clarence Norman, neither of these two men ever once published statements challenging the journalist or accusing him of misinforming the public. Not while he was alive. And if Jack Newfield were alive today, Carl would not have made the statements he made when Elliot Spitzer endorsed him on the steps of City Hall. Indeed if Jack Newfield were alive, I feel positive that Carl would not have dared to run for Congress. Nor do I believe that Elliot Spitzer, David Dinkins, Alan Hevesi and Billy Thompson would have taken the risk of endorsing Carl. Jack would have ripped Carl to shreds and these endorsers would have suffered serious collateral damage.
But suddenly, Carl Andrews is brave enough to jump on Superman’s chin. Carl believes that because New York’s most respected journalist is not alive to back up his statements, he can now smear him while amending the record.
However, there are many reporters, editors, journalists and friends very much alive who respected, admired, and knew his integrity. Many of them who mourned Newfield’s untimely passing, like Wayne Barrett, Nancie Katz, Tom Robbins, Errol Louis, and Colin Miner actually participated in writing the stories which forced District Attorney Joe Hynes to take the first unwilling steps of prosecution after 14 sleepy years in office. These journalists helped to create the record which identifies Carl as being Guilty By Participation (and not just Guilty By Association) in the Surrogate Court scandal which caused Judge Feinberg, his Surrogate counsel Lou Rosenthal, and Public Advocate Marietta Small to be removed from their jobs. They helped to chronicle the injury and larceny perpetrated against those who went to the Surrogates Court believing it would provide them with protection and assistance. It is now the duty of these journalists to stand by their work, and to affirm that their fallen comrade, Jack Newfield was telling the truth.
Wayne Barrett mentions that in notes dated November 15, probably made in pain, and with the Angel of Death at his desk checking off the days on his calendar, Jack Newfield was writing about the sale of judgeships in Brooklyn. His life work. He left unfinished business for those whom he mentored and those who claimed to love, respect and admire him. Jack Newfield was alive when Clarence Norman and Jeff Feldman were indicted. Suddenly he was filled with optimism. His reports suggest that he believed it was only a matter of time before there would be enough evidence to indict Carl.
But as this is written, it is fair to say that the level of corruption among Brooklyn’s elected officials has never been more gross than it is today. There are about 6 weeks in which Jack’s comrades, his writing family can honor his memory. As I see it, if they do not, political corruption, and debasement of the Judicial system in Brooklyn, will be worse than when Jack started writing his 700 articles for the Village Voice and his 35 articles for the Sun.
Moreover, the signs indicate that Corruption will probably more organized, more sophisticated and untouchable than it has been in the history of the Borough.
And the sad message to Jack Newfield may be Mark Antony‘s famous words: IF YOU HAVE TEARS, PREPARE TO SHED THEM NOW. . If Jack is in a place where tears can be shed, his eyes are already red and swollen.