Remember how politicians weren’t supposed to criticize the media?
How media outlets were “the guardians” acting as the thin line keeping us from abuse of power?
Yeah, about that — it turns out none of this is true if the person doing the criticism is a Democrat and the media outlet in question can be reasonably identified as conservative.
In this case, the politician is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the media outlet is the New York Post, one of the few bastions of sanity in Gotham.
On Thursday, the Post reported that the mayor had stopped both the New York Police Department and the Civilian Complaint Review Board from testifying over the proposed repeal of a law which forbids public access to the files of police officers.
“NYPD Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker and Civilian Complaint Review Board Chairman Fred Davie were scheduled to appear back-to-back before the state Senate Codes Committee in lower Manhattan, according to an official agenda for the public hearing,” the Post reported.
“But both men canceled their appearances on [the mayor’s] orders, according to a source familiar with the matter.”
“Instead of letting both sides testify and having an honest conversation, they ordered both sides not to testify,” the source told the Post.
“There’s been a debate inside City Hall [over the issue]. There’s been a push inside the Mayor’s Office for the mayor to push the NYPD to push for reform, further than they were comfortable with,” the source added.
So, what did de Blasio have to say about this?
Well, when it was brought up during an appearance on NPR affiliate WNYC on Friday, de Blasio insisted it was untrue — and then decided to attack the Post.
“It’s not a fact-based publication, it just isn’t,” de Blasio said.
“It’s an ideological publication that will say anything they want all the time and you’ll notice one of the reasons I’m right is they don’t ask for the opposing view … as most journalists do.”
Except they did.
“The Post asked two of de Blasio’s press secretaries, Freddi Goldstein and Olivia Lapeyrolerie, for comment on the story three times Thursday,” the paper reported.
“’No comment from us,’ Goldstein responded in a 6:18 p.m. Thursday text message.”
But this didn’t stop de Blasio from criticizing the Post. Asked further if other reporters should follow up on their report, de Blasio retorted that nothing would be discovered.
“I’d love to find the person who could prove I knew about something I did not know about and I took an action I didn’t take,” de Blasio said.
However, the timing of the NYPD and the CCRB’s decision to pull out of the Thursday hearing was unusual. It was so unusual, in fact, that Democratic state Sen. Jamaal Bailey remarked on it at the beginning of the hearing.
“Unfortunately just prior to the hearing I was informed that the CCRB nor the NYPD will be testifying today, and, and I am disappointed by that,” Bailey said.
The law in question has been contentious, particularly in reference to the Eric Garner case.
At the hearing Thursday, Gwen Carr, Garner’s mother, said the law made her unable to access files related to “the misconduct or discipline histories of other officers involved in killing Eric and covering it up.”
The legislation stipulates that government records used to evaluate first responders are shielded from public access.
“The law was enacted in 1977 in part to prevent defense lawyers from using the Freedom of Information Law to obtain unsubstantiated complaints of police wrongdoing, then cross-examine cops about those incidents on the witness stand,” the Post reported.
This is pretty important stuff and something that one would hope both the NYPD and CCRB would be testifying about.
De Blasio has said that he didn’t instruct the two agencies not to testify, but the fact that both canceled at the last minute and neither seemed to have a terribly coherent reason for doing so was highly suspicious.
Only the NYPD gave a reason for their lack of testimony, saying that they had “made their position on supporting reforms to [the law] clear and maintain that it remains important to increase transparency and accountability in policing.”
The CCRB refused to respond.
All of this is to say that the Post’s stories were both well-sourced and de Blasio didn’t seem to take any particular issue with the facts — only to say they were untrue anyway.
Instead, he attacked the ideological bent of the Post.
Nobody is taking de Blasio to task on this even though he’s one of the highest-profile Democrats who isn’t a governor or in Congress.
Yet, when he criticizes the media over a story like this, there’s barely a peep.
When President Donald Trump or any other Republican criticizes the media, meanwhile, they may as well be taking aim at some sort of holy institution.
Jim Acosta will inform us in grave tones about where disrespect for the media leads us: right down the sewer to a kind of dictatorial hell, and the only thing separating us from that hell is reporters like him. If we’re not being reverent and genuflecting before our media overlords, we’re not doing it correctly.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about the New York Post and the person doing the criticizing is Bill de Blasio — who allegedly muzzled public officials for his own political purposes.
Then that sort of baseless criticism is all good, right?
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