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Our invitation to Ratner

The Brooklyn Paper
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We ran into Forest City Ratner Vice President Bruce Bender in front of Park Slope’s PS 321 the other day. We’ve known Bender for a long time and we like talking with him — even though he goes to town on us like we were a Peter Luger porterhouse.

Bender’s persistent claim is that this paper is biased against his company’s Atlantic Yards development. He says our reporters write “hit pieces” that distort the truth about the project. He argues that we don’t print “all the good things” FCR is doing in Brooklyn (not that he had a list of such things handy).

Bender would no doubt prefer us to be like the New York Times, which has not only teamed up with Bruce Ratner to build a new headquarters in Times Square, but takes as gospel every press release from its development partner. For whatever reason, the Times has choosen not to cover Brooklyn’s largest development ever with its usual critical eye.

In our line of work, we love to hear criticisms like Bender’s. We are not infallible — which is why we have, in fact, reached out to Bender and his boss Bruce Ratner repeatedly with fair questions about the project to ensure that all the information in our paper is accurate, up-to-date and interesting to readers who may not be fully aware of the details of the company’s 16-tower residential, hotel, office space and basketball arena project.

Bender claims we don’t care about accuracy, but our retort has always been that we are simply covering the known impacts of the Atlantic Yards project — impacts that state officials readily acknowledged in their environmental impact statement.

Bender and his spokespeople have done little to assist our understanding of that document — not even offering us their spin so that more of our coverage might reflect the company’s thinking. As it is, we feel we do a good job pointing out what project supporters see as its benefits.

So that’s why, as we were chatting with Bruce Bender, we reiterated our long-standing invitation: We would like to interview Bruce Ratner, one on one, and print the full, unedited transcript. The reader could then judge for himself if our questions are fair and balanced. And he’ll get to hear Bruce Ratner’s vision — not edited or taken out of context. We’ll even upload the entire audio to our Web site so no one could accuse us of malfeasance.

But Bender said no.

That’s a pity. We want our readers to hear the full depth of FCR’s “side” of the story.

Hence the invitation: A one-hour, mano-a-mano interview which would be printed — as we said, unedited — in an upcoming issue of The Brooklyn Papers and webcast at www.brooklynpapers.com.

So how about it Bruce and Bruce?

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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