Since entering office back in January, Mayor de Blasio’s relationship with the journalists assigned to cover him has gotten a bit testy. While it’s no surprise that de Blasio became less eager to talk to the press once he no longer had an election to win, reporters say that he has established a pattern of keeping them out of proceedings entirely. In March, Capital New York’s Dana Rubinstein noted that de Blasio limited coverage to pool reports — where one member of the City Hall press corps attends an event and shares their write-up with the other news outlets — much more often than his predecessor. “During his first two months in office, de Blasio has pooled print reporters at least seven times, more than Mayor Michael Bloomberg did in his final three years combined, according to a review of both mayors’ public schedules,” Rubinstein wrote. “If de Blasio’s first two months are any indication, by the end of the year he will be on track to have pooled print reporters more than 30 times.” On Tuesday, the AP pointed out that he has already hit that mark.
According to the AP’s analysis of his nearly five months as mayor, de Blasio has had pool reporters at 30 events and barred all journalists from another 53. “On a handful of days, his entire schedule was off limits,” reported the news service. “All told, more than 20 percent of his listed events were closed to the media.” De Blasio’s people have said that pool reports are sometimes necessary because of space and other logistical constraints, though past administrations seem to have figured out how to squeeze additional reporters into tight spaces.
Meanwhile, de Blasio events that have been closed to the media have included sitdowns with the mayor of Seattle, Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, the commissioner of the NBA, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Pussy Riot, and a speech he delivered to the business group Partnership for NYC. However, the AP notes that the mayor’s office frequently releases photos and transcripts of “so-called private meetings,” which means that an official version of the proceedings is the only one available.
When asked about the AP article during an unrelated Tuesday press conference, de Blasio responded, “I believe deeply in transparency. By definition it is in the eye of the beholder. We believe there is a whole swath of information that needs to be available to the public and we will continue to do a better job on a lot of day-to-day government business that is appropriately disclosable.” To be fair, de Blasio still hasn’t been mayor for very long, and it’s possible that he’s still getting used to the job and the scrutiny that comes with it. On the other hand, giving the press the impression that they’re being avoided isn’t the best way to garner positive coverage.