Long Island’s daily publication, Newsday seems to have recently taken a special interest in State Senator Tom Croci’s August, 2013 deployment to Afghanistan. Upon shipping out, Croci was trading his job as Islip Town Supervisor for an assignment as an intelligence officer with our elite military special forces units; including the Navy SEALs.
It was not his first tour of duty with a legendary fighting force (Marines 2004-05), yet reporter Will Van Sant issued a semi-covoluted labyrinth of well over 2,000 words to essentially question Commander Croci’s motivation for heading off into a war zone. In addition, Van Sant curiously recycled a story regarding a personal 3 year old settlement reached between Senator Croci and his elderly aunt. Given his history of serving with SEALs, perhaps overlooked, misunderstood or deliberately ignored was the weight of Croci stating, “There are only so many times you want to say no to the people you have served with previously.” Maybe it’s the Band of Brothers thing armchair quarterbacks can’t quite understand.
Another current legislator reservist who’d seen active duty overseas in a time of war is Congressman Lee Zeldin. In the summer of 2006, as a member of the renowned 82nd Airborne, he was part of an infantry battalion deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Zeldin transitioned to the Army Reserves in 2007 where he continues to serve with the rank of Major. As both a New York State Senator and House member Mr. Zeldin has been a powerful advocate for veterans’ issues. While in Albany he created the innovative PFC Joseph Dwyer Program, which introduced peer to peer counseling for vets suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.
When running this past fall for reelection the Newsday Editorial board not only endorsed his opponent they, in a move unusual for them, couldn’t find one single thing for which to commend the freshman congressman. Rather they paper picked apart votes that wound up having no real impact on final legislative outcomes, while ignoring all of Zeldin’s law making successes; even the bipartisan ones.
What some may find ironic, is that around the time Lt. Commander Croci was leading a small team of Marines in Afghanistan and Lt. Zeldin was on the ground in Iraq, Newsday was up to it’s eyeballs in scandal. As the Washington Post reported in June of 2005, employees of the paper were arrested “on charges of fraud for inflating circulation figures at the paper and its sister publication, the Spanish-language daily Hoy.” Newsday executives were, “using fake customers, shell companies, and other tactics to…boost the rates charged to advertisers.” Roslynn R. Mauskopf, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of NY said those two publications, “cheated advertisers out of millions of dollars paid for ads in papers that were dumped or never paid for.”
It’s important to note, in 2016, Suffolk County voters reelected both citizen-soldier lawmakers. Congressman Zeldin won by a margin of over 16%. State Senator Croci’s landslide victory was north of 17%.
A cynic might ask why a “hometown paper” would seemingly go out of its way to target two well regarded men whose combination of honorary military and public service has earned them a special place in today’s society. Another cynic might answer that the uniquely powerful resumes’ of Republicans Zeldin and Croci offer a bright future for both themselves and their party; perhaps scaring the pants of a certain tainted, left leaning Long Island daily.