Bill de Blasio and the Media Hate-Fest
As our readers know, we've burned more than a few brain cells this year trying to understand what it is about Bill de Blasio that brings out such deep feelings of hostility.

How is it that a Democratic mayor of a Democratic city, a chief executive who has kept the city more or less under control, a leader whose signature accomplishment is providing pre-kindergarten for small children, a middle-aged gray-haired guy known for his dad jokes, is so unloved by so many?

Nowhere is the negativity as pronounced as it is in the coverage of his preparations for a presidential run. The more time he's
spent thinking about it, the worse the derision has become.

"Why is Bill de Blasio's Presidential Dream a Sad Joke?" posited The New Republic .

"Bill de Blasio Still Desperately Trying to Justify Running for President," reported Vanity Fair .

“NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Unites the Nation: No One Wants Him to Run for President,” read a Daily Beast headline .  

New York City residents don’t love Bill de Blasio and don’t want him to run for president,” headlined The Washington Post .

And that was just the national press. The city’s tabloids have been merciless toward his ambitions for months, but this week The Times joined the pile-on with a  brutal editorial . "Mayor Bill de Blasio’s flirtation with a White House run has generated virtually no interest among voters,” it began. It was downhill from there.

The scorn in most of the coverage has been focused not so much on what de Blasio’s done as mayor as much as who he is. He’s arrogant, sanctimonious, condescending, hypocritical - pick your pejorative. Writers recount well-worn tales of dropped groundhogs, late arrivals to important events, and escorted rides to a Park Slope gym (which must be a terrific place considering the endless battering he's taken for it). All have been treated as symbols of a leader too consumed with his own self-regard to care for the little people he professes to champion.
The treatment has been as brutal as we can recall for a presidential candidate (or non-candidate). It's hard to imagine national publications taking such license with any other aspirant (would the New Republic illustrate a Kamala Harris profile with a cartoon depicting her as a sad clown with a dunce cap?). The mayor must feel hurt by the sadistic coverage – anyone would – but the larger question he must be asking is whether it is possible to win at this game if the referees are all pulling for you to lose. 

The O ther Problem with a White House Run
Campaign finance stories are a noble but unsexy genre in the journalism business. But a steady drumbeat of revelations about the mayor’s alleged ethical infractions is reaching critical mass at just the wrong time for him.

Since early April, The Times has run a stream of eyebrow-raising stories about the people who have been paying for de Blasio’s presidential campaign trips.

Donors to his federal political action committee, Fairness PAC, include a group of landlords who made a killing from selling 17 buildings to the city, and a Boston construction company seeking to expand its business to New York (kudos to Times scribes Willie Neuman and David Goodman).

On April 26 th , THE CITY revealed that the mayor has been personally dialing for dollars for the PAC, and speaking with (guess who) individuals seeking to do business with the city. The story turned up multiple examples of developers with zoning and permitting needs financing the mayor's recent trips to the cornfields of Iowa. 

But Fairness PAC is just one of the funds the press has been scrutinizing.

On April 17 th , THE CITY’s estimable Greg Smith got hold of a bombshell 2018 Department of Investigation memo that found de Blasio violated conflict of interest rules by soliciting donations from people seeking favors from the city for his Campaign for One New York fund . Then, two days later , the news site revealed that he is under investigation by the state ethics watchdog, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

On Tuesday, Nueman reported that the DOI referred the matter to the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board. He documented the conflicts the Board members themselves have, including a mayoral appointee who donated to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.

It was all too much for the Times’ editorial board. “De Blasio May Want to Be President,” stated its headline. “What Do His Donors Want?”

The mayor's strategy during this mess has been to stonewall; he's refused to tell reporters about his interaction with the Conflicts of Interest Board. That approach is unlikely to work if he ultimately decides to run. Stonewalling is hard enough if you're the mayor of New York. It's practically impossible as a candidate for president.
Trump, Taxes, and The Times
This was one of those weeks that demonstrated why Donald Trump and The Times have met their match in one another.

A president who steamrolls over institutions hasn't been able to make a dent in the paper’s armor, charges of Fake News and all. While much of Washington cowers in fear of Trump, The Times only grows in strength and stature, exemplified by a story that revealed, amazingly, that for years, the self-proclaimed business genius lost more money than nearly any other American. The Times' reporting showed that Trump lost over a billion dollars ($1.17 billion to be exact) in failed business ventures from 1985-1994.

But while the paper regularly stands up to Trump, it can’t knock him down. Its news about his epic financial losses will come and go with so many other eye-popping revelations.

The army of Democrats running for president greeted the story with a collective shrug. Sanders, Biden, Harris, Booker and others passed up the chance to ding Trump for his dismal business record.

The media gave the paper’s revelation the five-alarm treatment, but Trump’s opponents barely shrugged. Perhaps they sense that the media is off on a valiant quest in the name of transparency that will ultimately change few minds.
Here and There
Alex Gabriel becomes Deputy Assistant Adviser to Mayor de Blasio’s Community Affairs unit, specializing in LGBT outreach for the upcoming Pride 50 event Jake Sporn is joining Tusk Strategies as a public affairs strategist… Winthrop Roosevelt (what a name!) joins the Office of New York City Councilman Mark Levine as communications director… Michael Crowley leaves POLITICO to become a White House correspondent… Nancy Gibbs becomes faculty director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy. 
"The scandal in journalism in our time is that ethics have disintegrated to the point where Donald Trump took over news reporters in this city with the art of the return phone call." - Jimmy Breslin June 7, 1990 (h/t to Nick Field)
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Kirtzman Strategies is a strategic communications and public affairs firm that works with public officials, nonprofits, companies, tech startups and education organizations.
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