Bill de Blasio’s Press Problem? Don’t Ask

Photo

Mayor de Blasio making an announcement on Staten Island last week.

Credit
Uli Seit for The New York Times

Mayors of New York tend to be remembered for the way they wrangle with City Hall reporters, a signature battle stance that says a lot about the personality of His Honor and his relationship with the press. For Rudy Giuliani, it was the righteous snarl. For Michael Bloomberg, the smirky insult.

For Mayor Bill de Blasio, it’s looking like: the petulant whine.

It’s been evident for months that the mayor hates it when he thinks reporters at public events aren’t asking the right questions, or are being too hostile or skeptical, or are getting the facts wrong, or are trying to stray off topic when he wants to stay on, on, on.

As J. David Goodman and William Neuman reported in The Times on Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio has taken message-controlling to unusual lengths. Taking beatings from beat reporters has been in the mayoral job description forever, but this mayor has apparently decided that face-to-face interaction with reporters is overrated. At one appearance after another, he took no questions, even at benign events like a ferry ride on the East River to announce some new ferry routes. It seems the press was included simply so it could exult with him in the magnificence of the achievement.

When the press refuses, you get episodes like this one, on March 23, when reporters kept asking questions unrelated to the topic of the day. He resisted; they persisted; he walked out. As a snippet of transcript shows, if you take the Q. out of Q. and A., what remains is absurdist theater:

O.K., Mara. You’re smart — I’m here to talk about this. Mara, I’m here to talk about this. If you want to ask question about this —

I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, great, if not, we’ll take questions another way, another time. Does anyone want to ask about the mansion tax? Same thing. Guys, you can ask all you want. Here’s what we are here to talk about. Last call, anyone want to talk about mansion tax? About mansion tax.

I’m going to do this again one more time. This is how we set things up, guys. You don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come. We’re here to talk about something that would reach 25,000 seniors. Everything else you want to talk about you’ll get answers to through our press office. If someone has a question on this, ask about this; if you don’t, that’s cool. Do you have a question on this?

O.K. — That is great, guys. I’m done, thank you.

Mr. de Blasio is a skilled retail pol. When he meets the public on inflamed topics like housing or homeless shelters, he brings a mix of earnestness and command of detail that can leave even knee-jerk critics with calm knees. Not many in his administration can sell his policies better than he can.

He insists he is…

Read the full article from the Source…

Back to Top