On Sunday morning, the New York Post published a very Post-y cover story about the recent resignation of NYPD chief of department Philip Banks III and Chirlane McCray’s supposed reaction to it. According to the Post, “sources” said that a “furious” McCray yelled, “I told you we can’t trust [Bill Bratton]!” upon learning that Banks had quit after disagreeing with the NYPD chief over the conditions of a planned promotion. The conservative tabloid also claimed that Banks “was [McCray]’s choice” for police commissioner, a job she “never wanted to see” Bratton do. (Bratton was, of course, appointed by McCray’s husband, Mayor de Blasio.) On Sunday afternoon, de Blasio and Bratton held a press conference to show that they were getting along and to deny the Post’s claims. On her blog, McCray did the same, while also issuing some general criticism of New York City’s press corps.
De Blasio and Bratton didn’t explicitly name the Post, but it was clear what they were talking about. “Some of the falsehoods that have been reported…could not be more wrong,” said de Blasio, who criticized “unnamed sources” who “make up entire conversations in their head.” Bratton, for his part, accused certain reporters and pundits of “trying to damage” the NYPD and the de Blasio administration.
Meanwhile, on Tumblr, McCray wrote:
This morning I woke up to a front-page news article that simply wasn’t true.
And it wasn’t the first time.
Reading through it was an astonishing and surreal experience. It’s like the reporters created a fictional character that happened to look like me and have the same name as me.
They put words into my mouth that I never said. They gave me opinions that have never crossed my mind. They made it sound like NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton is my sworn enemy, when in fact he has my full support.
McCray went on to blame the piece on “a small but stubborn group of people who adamantly oppose the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton to create a more fair and equal policing system” and the “irresponsible reporters” willing to print their “lies.”
“How do these lies make it through the editorial process and end up in a major newspaper? How do opinions leak out of the ‘Editorials’ section and onto the front page?” wrote McCray. “The answer to that question is more complicated, but I think it comes down to this: Too many city newsrooms do not reflect the population of NYC or the experiences of the majority of New Yorkers…We must demand newsrooms that are as diverse as the city they serve. And we must demand stories that are works of fact, not fiction.”
McCray’s desire for more diverse newsrooms is one shared by many. It also might reflect McCray’s interpretation of things like the Post’s decision to twist her candid description of her adjustment to parenthood into a headline calling her a “BAD MOM” and the attention local reporters recently devoted to her chief of staff’s failure to disclose that her longtime boyfriend has a criminal past. As for her call for stories that aren’t made up? Well, that seems pretty straightforward.