'I told you we can't trust him."
Those famous words -- attributed to an anonymous source in a Nov. 2 New York Post story -- were supposedly uttered by Mayor Bill de Blasio's wife, Chirlane McCray, about Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Despite the anonymous sourcing and denials by the mayor and Bratton -- but in light of the anti-police tenor of the mayor's first year in office -- the words had a ring of truth.
Last Wednesday, the Post had another story attributed to anonymous sources. This one said that on the previous Monday, Bratton, angered by Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris' refusal to fund 1,000 more cops, stormed out of a meeting.
"If I don't get them from you," Bratton reportedly told Shorris, "I'll go to the City Council and get them."
Bratton denied the story, saying he had not even met with Shorris on Monday, March 30. "There's not a single factual item in that story," he said.
The Post followed up on Thursday with "multiple sources" who "confirmed the story's accuracy and said they were stunned by the shameless denials."
"I can't believe he is denying it," the Post reported a source saying.
Bratton went ballistic. "I'm the police commissioner of the City of New York," he said during a news conference. "I say that meeting never happened. If the Post is so convinced it did happen, I would categorically say their sources are lying."
In an interview after the news conference, Bratton spoke of Larry Celona, a veteran Post police reporter whose byline appeared on both stories, as well as on the McCray story five months earlier. "I've known Larry for 25 years. Why would Larry attach his name to a story like that?" Bratton asked.
Celona did not respond to a request for comment.
By Saturday, the Post seemed to be looking for a face-saving exit from the Bratton-Shorris story.
Calling Bratton "a consummate public-safety professional," an editorial praised Bratton's "ability to shave and even flatly deny the truth" as "vital to keeping the NYPD functioning . . .
" . . . We can take our lumps," said the editorial, "so long as he can keep resolving the contradictions between the mayor's political debts and the safety of all New Yorkers."
The editorial concluded: "You're in our prayers, Mr. Commissioner."