Friday, September 27, 2013

Mayor Bloomberg on the brink: Testy exchange with reporters leads to threat of ending press conferences


Mayor Bloomberg, the billionaire founder of a business news and media company, has frequently boiled over when dealing with probing journalists but his temper seems to be reaching new heights as his third and final term comes to a close.

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Anthony DelMundo/New York Daily News

Mayor Bloomberg has had a long and turbulent relationship with the press, having once called a City Hall reporter "a disgrace."

It's the first mayor’s race in over a decade in which Mayor Bloomberg hasn’t been on the ballot — and he’s getting really, really sick of being asked about it.
“I have not listened to one campaign speech, or seen one ad or watched one debate,” he told reporters Thursday as he swatted away questions about the race.
“I don’t find it interesting.”
In the latest in a series of testy exchanges Bloomberg has had with reporters in recent weeks, the mayor became so irritated with the press corps that he threatened to stop holding press conferences if the flood of questions about the race doesn’t end.
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“I’m not going to bother with the press conferences. There’s just no reason to do it,” the mayor huffed during a question and answer session held after an announcement about air quality in the city.
“I think it’s very important that we talk to the public and that we answer the press’ questions. But you just gotta restrict the questions to things that are germane to what our administration is doing,” he said.
The actions of the Bloomberg administration have been central issues on the campaign trail, with candidates regularly asked which Bloomberg programs and policies they’ll continue and which ones will come to an end.
When asked about Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota's remarks about Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg responded, "Ask Joe Lhota!"

Debbie Egan-Chin/New York Daily News

When asked about Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota's remarks about Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg responded, "Ask Joe Lhota!"

Democratic hopeful Bill de Blasio won his party’s nomination in part by criticizing Bloomberg and painting rival Christine Quinn as too close to the mayor but Bloomberg said he can’t worry about what his would-be successors are going to do.
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“I’ve got to worry about the city and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said, telling reporters: “You just got to stop making every press conference — all you want to do is ask about things you know I’m not going to say.”
To make his point, the mayor gestured toward the back of the room at two reporters who had just asked him questions about the mayoral race.
“These two young ladies in the back know full well that I’m not going to answer their questions,” he said. “So, you know, we’re just, we’re wasting everybody’s time.”
When a reporter ignored his protests and asked him what he thought about remarks Republican nominee Joe Lhota made about rival Bill de Blasio, the mayor’s anger grew.

“Ask Joe Lhota!” he cried. “I’m not Joe Lhota!”
With Bill de Blasio on the rise to succeed Mayor Bloomberg, hizzoner has so far curbed all questions, saying, "I don't find it interesting."

Marcus Santos// New York Daily News

With Bill de Blasio on the rise to succeed Mayor Bloomberg, hizzoner has so far curbed all questions, saying, "I don't find it interesting."

To another scribe who asked about overcrowding in the city’s classrooms, the mayor responded with dripping sarcasm.
“Let’s just go back to when the school system was loaded with crime,” he said.
But it was one question, about how much credit his administration should take for the gains the city has seen over the years on crime and health issues, that really sent him over the edge.
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“That’s a dumb question, it really is,” Bloomberg snapped.
Finally, a reporter asked the mayor why he was so angry with the city’s press corps.
“I’m not,” he shot back, “but there are so many things that are important, and to ask things that I have no knowledge about, or shouldn’t be commenting about is a shame, because the public really does need to know about, for example, the [air quality] announcement today.”
At multiple points throughout the event, the mayor’s press secretary jumped in, trying to put an end to the increasingly awkward exchange.
“Last question,” Marc LaVorgna, the press secretary, said about five times during the press conference.
“Why don’t I just listen to him and say, 'Enough?’ ” the mayor asked, before taking a final query.
mgay@nydailynews.com
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