Judging by most of the headlines you see these days, it’s President Trump and the GOP who are conducting some sort of war on the free press and undermining journalism. Don’t be fooled into thinking they have the market cornered on this score, however. There are Democrats out there doing a fine job on the same battlefield. Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio opened up a new front in that conflict this weekend when he showed up to march in the Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan. The Mayor was approached by a reporter from the New York Post who asked a question about a recent report on de Blasio’s meetings with lobbyists. Instead of answering, the reporter was hustled away by the Mayor’s bodyguards. (New York Post)
Mayor de Blasio is a such a big believer in the free press that he let two bodyguards physically remove a credentialed Post reporter who had the temerity to ask him a question in public on Sunday.
The unusual muzzling unfolded at the start of the annual Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan, where the reporter sought de Blasio’s reaction to The Post’s front page story about his administration’s many meetings with lobbyists…
Just two hours later, after de Blasio cut a ribbon to kick off the parade and was posing for photos near West 37th Street and Sixth Avenue, the reporter asked him to comment on the “CITY FOR SALE” Page One story.
Instead of answering or even declining to answer the question, the mayor watched as two members of his NYPD security detail approached the reporter — who was wearing a police-issued press pass around his neck — with one grabbing his shoulder and leading him away from the mayor.
The reporter was clearly wearing a press pass issued by the NYPD. The story he was asking about was fresh in the news this weekend and a hot topic which the Mayor clearly would prefer not to discuss. The security guards (who were cops in plain clothes) moved reporter Kevin Sheehan off to the side and were overheard telling him that he “couldn’t be there” and then saying, “Come on, Kevin. No stunts today.”
Stunts? Sheehan was attempting to ask a question about his paper’s story from the day before which revealed de Blasio’s heavy schedule of meetings with lobbyists, many of which were never disclosed to the public. Mayor de Blasio has yet to comment on the story beyond a few dismissive quips.
It was some intriguing reporting, though. The laundry list of lobbyists making their way through the Mayor’s office included people who were listed as having particular interests in topics including “congestion” and “hotel and real estate rentals.” You may recall that the Mayor recently enacted new restrictions on both Airbnb and Uber-style ride-sharing services. You don’t suppose those lobbyists were there to talk about topics like that, do you?
We may never know. The Mayor clearly doesn’t care to discuss the matter and will hustle away reporters who dare to ask. I’m sure all of their colleagues at the rest of the newspapers and cable news outlets will be coming to Kevin’s defense any minute now, right?