Jennifer Mascia, rabid anti-gunner Joe Nocera’s editorial assistant, did most of the heavy lifting compiling the New York Times’ Gun Report. She revealed that she’s the daughter of a former mafia hit man when she published her book, Never Tell Our Business to Strangers, five years ago. It’s an interesting tidbit the newshounds at aljazeera.com recount in noting her latest gig. To wit . . .
In spite of the daily drudgery involved with the Gun Report, a secret from [Jennifer] Mascia’s own past helped keep her going: A family history of gun violence that began in 1963 in Owl’s Head Park in Brooklyn. It was there that her father, John Mascia, shot and killed a man for the first time . . .
“His name was Joe Vitali, his nickname was Joe the Fish, he was a heroin addict,” Mascia said. “My father lured him into the park with the promise of some heroin. And he and an accomplice turned around and shot him to death.”
Mascia discovered later in life that her father had been a mob enforcer. He killed Vitali because he was a suspected police informant. John Mascia was convicted for murder and served 12 years in prison before being paroled. He met Mascia’ mother just before his release.
Mascia didn’t find out her father was a murderer until she was 22 and he was dying of cancer. After he passed away, she learned an even darker secret from her mother.
“She said, ‘You know how you always asked me, “Did he shoot more than one person?” Well, he did.’”
Her mother confessed that her father had killed up to six other people over drug deals after he got out of prison, crimes for which he was never arrested, never convicted, never paid the price. The weight of her father’s sins helped drive Mascia’s work at The Times.
Drudgery? We consider gun blogging an honor. I wonder why Mascia didn’t join the Justice Department or, I dunno, work to tackle gang violence. How would gun control – The Gun Report’s not-so-hidden agenda – have stopped her father? Were any of the guns he used to commit the crime obtained legally?
Anyway, The Times canned the column. Mascia’s boss, Nocera, claimed that the feature had made its point with its contextless litany of “gun violence.” Mascia reckons her request for more pay led to the decision. Either way, like her father’s victims, the column now sleeps with the fishes (if you’ll excuse the levity). Mascia was out of work. But not for long.
Mascia was recently hired by the gun-control advocacy organization Everytown for Gun Safety – started and funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg – to help launch a digital newsroom and website devoted solely to tracking gun violence in America.
“We’re going to focus on victim stories, especially because putting a face to these crimes really helps drive it home for readers,” Mascia said.
The new site will launch in the coming months, with the aim of keeping everyday victims of gun violence in the media and in people’s thoughts.
“This is going to be everything I imagined for the Gun Report that I wanted to do” she said. “This will hopefully keep the conversation going. It will be a steady drumbeat. We’re not going to let this fall out of the media.”
Conversation? I don’t think that word means what she thinks it means. As to whether her father’s homicidal criminal record disqualifies her from blogging for gun control, I say no. But it does put her zeal for anti-gun agitprop into perspective. Thank you, Al Jazeera.