Mayor Eric Adams came out swinging Tuesday against reporters and media outlets whom, he alleged, misrepresented a conversation he had in Albany with state officials on Monday.
Citing a report by the New York Daily News, Adams remarked on a reported comment that he was allegedly “beat up pretty badly” during a meeting regarding criminal justice reform with lawmakers in Albany yesterday.
“That did not happen in Albany,” Adams said in his opening remarks of a Feb. 15 briefing, originally scheduled to focus on the New York City Summer Youth Employment program. “You know, you guys kill me, what part of Albany are you covering? ‘Eric gets beat up in Albany’ what meetings were you guys in? I went to Albany, sat down with Andrea [Stewart-Cousins] and Carl [Heastie], we laughed and we talked about old times. We talked about how we’re together on keeping our city safe. Andrea gave me a pear and an apple. We walked out and said in front of everyone that we are aligned in keeping our city and our state safe.”
The meeting yesterday was Adams’ first trip to Albany as mayor, and it was reported that he sought to convince legislators to reverse two criminal justice reform laws that dramatically decreased the use of monetary bails for nonviolent offenses, and stipulated that only adults 18 and older can be criminally prosecuted in New York State. Critics believe rolling back or tweaking those laws are key to resolving crime problems in New York City and elsewhere.
Adams emerged from the meeting telling reporters that he would continue to fight for his anti-crime bill, which alleges that these two laws were standing in the way of his progress, as well as making the city less safe.
However, his interactions with lawmakers Monday, as it relates to pushing bail reform, were labeled a failure; the Daily News reported one anonymous Democratic legislative source as stating that Adams “got beat up pretty rough in there.”
The suggestion infuriated Adams, who at Tuesday’s press conference lit into the city’s Fourth Estate for its coverage of his meeting. He said there were no disputes or arguments with state legislative colleagues, and that it was only the first step in what he hopes will be an ongoing dialogue.
“Areas that we disagreed on we talked about and we walked through them, we talked about gun violence and all of these issues in a civil way,” the mayor said Tuesday. “Black mayor. Black speaker. Black majority leader. Coming together and talking to each other. And if you turned on the news this morning, you would’ve said ‘it was all hell up there.’ I’m trying to figure out, do you guys already write the stories before I do something?”
Adams went as far as to say that he may restrict press questioning in the future if this type of coverage was to continue.
“I’m going to stop doing off-topics,” Adams said. “Because if you already have your perception of me, and you are already going to stick to what you think I am, then why am I doing this? If this is how this is going to be, I’m just going to come in and do my announcements and bounce. I was blown away when I picked up the papers today.”
Adams even opined that greater diversity in newsrooms and on editorial boards would help provide fairer coverage of his administration.
“I’m a Black man that’s the mayor, but my story is being interpreted by people that don’t look like me,” Adams said. “How many Blacks are in the editorial boards? How many Blacks are determining how these stories are being written? How many Asians? How many East Indians, how many South Asians? Everybody talks about my government being diversified, what’s the diversification in the newsrooms? So when you write stories, you’re not writing stories for people who was almost homeless like me.”
Despite his apparent irritation with Monday’s coverage, the mayor still stressed the importance of a fair media presence in the nation.
“Look, we need you,” said Adams. “People pick up the papers in the morning and they define their reality. If you send the tone that we are in chaos, people are going to believe that. That should have never happened yesterday.”