Mayor de Blasio bars media from dozens of events - FOX 35 News Orlando

Mayor de Blasio bars media from dozens of events

Posted: Updated:

By JONATHAN LEMIRE | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — From the first moments of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration, when he initially declared his midnight swearing-in off limits to the media, he has established a record of frequently conducting public business in private, with dozens of events closed to the press.

In nearly five months in office, de Blasio barred the media from 53 events and limited access to 30 more, an Associated Press analysis of de Blasio's schedule shows. On a handful of days, his entire schedule was off limits. All told, more than 20 percent of his listed events were closed to the media.

Events in which reporters were notified of their existence but prevented from attending ranged from meetings with government figures such as the mayor of Seattle and Israel's minister of foreign affairs to sit-downs with the NBA commissioner, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Russian band Pussy Riot.

Often, the mayor's photographer later published images from those so-called private meetings, meaning that an official image of the event is the only one that exists. It's a tactic President Barack Obama has also used while restricting access to events in the White House and around the world. Several news organizations, including the AP, refuse to distribute such handout images from Obama or de Blasio.

De Blasio, a populist Democrat who campaigned with promises of an open administration, said in a news conference in Brooklyn on Tuesday that he "believes deeply in transparency" and that his administration could do better.

"We believe there is a whole swath of information that needs to be available to the public and we need to continue to do a better job on that," he said. "There is a lot of day-to-day government business that is appropriately disclosable that we need to be better at."

Any limits imposed on reporters are largely due to logistics, not secrecy, noted De Blasio's spokesman Phil Walzak.

But some media watchdogs worry that the restrictions in New York reflect a larger trend of government officials limiting access to the media while getting their message out to constituents directly via Twitter, Facebook and their own websites.

"It's easier to manage the message if you leave the media out of it," said Hunter College professor Jamie Chandler.

"Openness breeds confidence," added Al Tompkins, a senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school. "We have long history in America of believing that when doors are closed, something pretty stinky is going on."

De Blasio was sworn in at a midnight ceremony on Jan. 1 in front of his Brooklyn home. Initially, the media was prohibited from attending the event, which was streamed online. The administration relented after complaints from the AP and other media organizations.

A little more than three weeks later, de Blasio gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the leading pro-Israel lobbying group, an event not listed on his public schedule. One reporter who tried to get in was barred.

The mayor later acknowledged the event should have been publicized, saying: "We do owe you a clear understanding of where I am and what I'm doing." He's given several other speeches closed to press, such as one last week to the business group Partnership for NYC, though his office often releases transcripts of his remarks.

De Blasio's staff have also organized 30 events that are only open to what's called the press pool, usually one reporter, one photographer and one TV crew who attend the proceedings and share their reports with other media outlets.

The de Blasio administration, which said the mayor has a right to private meetings, has said that the use of a press pool has been dictated by space constraints, such as a classroom or factory, where it would be impossible to accommodate more journalists.

Media access at City Hall was first significantly limited by former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, according to Chandler, and then continued under Michael Bloomberg, who refused to tell the media where he was on weekends and was in Bermuda in the hours before a massive 2010 blizzard. (De Blasio does inform the media where he will be.)

More publicized has been media pushback on the White House practice of restricting photographers' access. A letter of protest last year came from 38 news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and the AP.

In a speech this month to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll again criticized the Obama practices but also included a poke at de Blasio, saying, "It's clear that the most-used rubber stamp in his office is the one that says 'closed to the press.'"

"Bill de Blasio is a charming and talented man, but the people he's meeting with are doing so because he's the mayor of New York City, not because he's a charming and talented man," Carroll said in an interview. "We're not pushing this for our end. We're pushing for it because the press is a stand-in for the public."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Sanitation men nearly throw away mayor's piano

    Sanitation men nearly throw away mayor's piano

    Friday, August 22 2014 1:39 PM EDT2014-08-22 17:39:56 GMT
    A piano donated by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop nearly ended up pushing up daises in a landfill instead of making music in a pedestrian plaza. Fulop gave the upright so residents could play tunes in a pedestrian plaza that opened on Monday.
    A piano donated by Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop nearly ended up pushing up daises in a landfill instead of making music in a pedestrian plaza. Fulop gave the upright so residents could play tunes in a pedestrian plaza that opened on Monday.

  • Fitbit responds to data selling accusations

    Fitbit responds to data selling accusations

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:57 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:57:29 GMT
    The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. San Francisco-based Fitbit said Friday that it has clarified its privacy policy to make it clear the company doesn't share information about its users. Schumer raised concerns about the company's privacy policy earlier this month and called for federal rules to allow consumers to protect their data.
    The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. San Francisco-based Fitbit said Friday that it has clarified its privacy policy to make it clear the company doesn't share information about its users. Schumer raised concerns about the company's privacy policy earlier this month and called for federal rules to allow consumers to protect their data.
  • 50,000 bees living in NYC ceiling

    50,000 bees living in NYC ceiling

    Friday, August 22 2014 12:27 PM EDT2014-08-22 16:27:29 GMT
    A Queens woman had some unexpected roommates living in her apartment: 50,000 bees. Beekeepers reportedly removed the swarm from Frieda Turkmenilli's ceiling this week after her neighbors in Queens alerted the building manager. Turkmenilli says she saw only a few bees buzzing around over the last few weeks and never realized how many had taken up residence right above her head.
    A Queens woman had some unexpected roommates living in her apartment: 50,000 bees. Beekeepers reportedly removed the swarm from Frieda Turkmenilli's ceiling this week after her neighbors in Queens alerted the building manager. Turkmenilli says she saw only a few bees buzzing around over the last few weeks and never realized how many had taken up residence right above her head.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices