Why Does the Media Hate the Mayor?
The last week has seen an almost startling breakdown in New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relationship with the media. The proximate reason was that the administration botched the dismissal of its head of emergency management, Joseph Esposito.

Esposito is a cigar-smoking, salt-of-the-earth, tell-it-like-it-is former white shirt police commander who brags that he never uses a computer—the kind of character Room 9 loves. When a deputy mayor lamely asked him to resign, he refused – reporters love it when that happens. The Daily News, already going hard on the revelations from the trial of a sleazy de Blasio donor, pivoted into attack mode ("Numbskull mayor makes aide twist in wind before putting knife in back." )

The mayor hemmed and hawed under questioning from Channel 2’s Marcia Kramer at a rambling press conference. William Neuman in The Times excoriated the mayor in a front-page story, pointing out how rarely de Blasio is even at City Hall these days.

Okay, City Hall botched Esposito’s firing. So what? In the scheme of things, it wasn’t a particularly consequential development. A bigger question is why the press in this city is so down on Bill de Blasio.

The Post hated him from the beginning, to no one's surprise. But why has he lost the liberal (more or less) Daily News, and when exactly did that happen? And why is The Times always so happy to join the pile-on?

The subtext to the Esposito story, and for that matter every de Blasio mini-outrage story (especially the ones about him arriving late to events) is that lot of people are uneasy trusting a liberal to run this city. Every screw-up seems to confirm it for skeptics (liberals among them), whose eye-rolls have made their way into the media bloodstream. There's a negative alchemy between his out of town trips for Bernie Sanders et al and the stories about his administration's stumbles. The further to the left he goes the more people cheer when something goes haywire back at City Hall.

Tough crowd.

That Vision Thing
Who but the most jaded among us was not touched by the majestic rituals, the solemn silences, and the emotional tributes brought forth by the death of George H. W. Bush? Bob Dole struggling to lift himself from his wheelchair and saluting. Ex-presidents and other historical figures back-slapping and bantering (well, not all of them). George W. Bush breaking into tears in his eulogy for “the best father a son or daughter could have.” The pallbearers from different services, ram-rod straight, carrying the flag-draped casket.

The clips of Bush as president, and the remembrances of those times, prompted a tidal wave of rueful commentary: Boy, things here sure have changed. What happened to our kinder gentler nation? Wasn’t Bush awesome? And could this week-long national moment of mourning bring about, as CNN’S Wolf Blitzer said, coining a slightly icky phrase, a new era of “bi-partisan affection”?

Well, let’s stipulate before going off the reservation that we thought the elder President Bush was one of the most skilled presidents of our lifetimes and an unusually dedicated public servant. And let’s agree that the political civility he embodied has, in fact, evaporated thanks to the guy in the front row on the left.

But the idea that Bush represented a genteel, almost nonpartisan era in American politics would have come as a surprise to the late Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater, who at the very least countenanced the 1988 Willie Horton “Revolving Door” ad for Bush that is still considered the gold standard of racially-charged political advertising. “Not sure I would have been President w/o his great talent, loyal help,” Bush tweeted after Ailes’ ignominious death last year. “RIP.”

Falling Flat at Columbia

It’s a sign of our times: politicians and speakers having their college appearances cancelled due to protests. SNL writer and comedian Nimesh Patel was ordered to halt his performance mid-show at Columbia University last week by the very group that invited him.

The Emmy-nominated comedian joked that being gay cannot be a choice because “no one looks in the mirror and thinks, ‘this black thing is too easy, let me just add another thing to it.’” Well, that didn’t go over very well with the Columbia Asian American Alliance. Members stopped the show and insisted he deliver his closing remarks and then scram.

The Columbia Spectator broke the story and did a great job with it.
Communications Breakdown was about to launch into a screed about political correctness run amok on campus, but we were stopped in our tracks by this quotation from a student. “I really dislike when people who are older say that our generation needs to be exposed to the real world,” she said, taking those very words out of our mouth. “It’s like undermining what our generation is trying to do in accepting others and making it safer.”

We don't really agree with her sentiment, but she had us seeing the other side of the story – and feeling really freaking old.

Return to North Sentinel Island
Last week we wrote about John Allen Chau, a missionary who believed it was his duty to bring God to a remote tribe in the Indian Ocean, and who got killed by bow-and-arrow for his efforts. ( Mea culpa: we called him Korean-American, as did early news reports; he was actually Chinese-American.)

The story cracked A1 of The Times last weekend but we found the reader comments – nearly 1,000 – more illuminating. The vast majority were gently critical of Chau. (One commenter voiced concern for the emotional state of the islander who shot the lethal arrow.) Here are some others:

“I feel sad and sorry for a young guy who meant well, but did not live long enough to escape the religious indoctrination and brainwashing of his youth,” wrote oldBassGuy.

“Increased media attention is only going to threaten the North Sentinelese, who are completely unaware of the buzz, unsuspecting of what else might wash up their shores, lack military or medical means, and definitely cannot argue their case in a court of law,” wrote Harsh.

“The same foolishness that led Chau to believe that his faith was superior - led to his death. I send the islanders peace and harmony in their sacred space,” wrote CeMar.

“He appeared to be strong in his faith and had a lot to give to the world,” wrote Sophie.

It was hard to stop reading them once you started.

Here and There
Comings and Goings in Media and Communications

The City , the new nonprofit website that will cover New York City starting in the new year, has announced the first three reporter hires by founding editor-in-chief Jere Hester : Christine Chung from Newsday as Queens reporter, Clifford Michel from the Staten Island Advance as Staten Island reporter and Ese Olumhense  as Bronx reporter… Ashley Gold joins The Information from Politico… Doyle McManus returns to the Los Angeles Times as Washington correspondent…

(Please send your Comings and Goings to the email address below.)
"This is a very liberal school, we're all against Nazis” – an incredulous sophomore at LaGuardia High School in Manhattan, where the principal demanded that swastikas be removed from the sets of “The Sound of Music.”

“I can die happy now that Merkel has used the word” -- Anne McElvoy, a senior editor with The Economist. The word? Shitstorm.

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