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OpinionColumnistsLiza Featherstone

Bill de Blasio, don't be like Mike Bloomberg

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press

Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a press conference at City Hall on Aug. 18, 2014. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Transparency was one of mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio's campaign promises. And that candidate, flanked by liberal public relations firm BerlinRosen, worked at cultivating relationships with NYC's media world.

As mayor, however, de Blasio has given the media a wide berth.

Larry Seary, president of the New York Press Club, wrote to the mayor last week with concerns that some events on de Blasio's schedule are closed to the media. Other days, reporters are invited to attend, but can't ask questions. According to Seary, when the mayor holds news conferences, he often sets a condition: Questions must be on a specific topic of his choosing. If reporters ask him about something else, de Blasio will chide them: "On topic!"

The press club isn't the first organization to criticize the mayor's relationship with journalists. In May, The Associated Press analyzed his schedule and found that in his first five months as mayor, he had banned the media from 53 events and had allowed reporters only limited access to 30 more. Some days, the mayor's schedule was off-limits to the press.

According to the press club, the previous eight mayors took questions regularly, at news conferences, without restricting the subject matter.

The recent trend is worrisome. As mayor, Rudy Giuliani managed reporters' access to City Hall closely, according to The Associated Press. And as mayor, Michael Bloomberg was often inaccessible to the media, flying in his plane to Bermuda for the weekend (releasing no details about his schedule -- most infamously during a blizzard in 2010).

It's not clear what de Blasio is worried about. The press hasn't been too hard on him. Reporters have been just as intent on fawning over Dante's first day back at Brooklyn Tech as they have been on asking why de Blasio, who ran as a progressive, would support a self-identified tea party Democrat for lieutenant governor against a progressive in Tuesday's primary, or how much of our taxpayer dollars go to religious schools through his pre-K program.

De Blasio should open up his schedule, and live up to his campaign promises.

Bill, don't be like Mike.


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