Upon second thought, and upon the release of thousands of stupifyingly mundane and scrumptiously catty internal emails, Mayor Bill de Blasio now regrets listening to whoever it was in City Hall who told him to spend two years and untold public dollars litigating and resisting the release of those emails.
"We duly receive from the legal staff, guidance on how to address this issue," the mayor magnanimously told Brian Lehrer this morning, when asked about yesterday's email dump. "That guidance turned out to be wrong, I regret following guidance that turned out to be wrong."
You may recall that back in 2016, after reporters asked for communications between de Blasio and a cadre of lobbyists and public relations specialists, the mayor—or whatever sinister public servant who was whispering poison into the mayor's ear—claimed that those conversations were privileged and not subject to the state's Freedom of Information Law, because these lobbyists and public relations specialists were essentially "agents of the city."
NY1 and the New York Post sued, and eventually won. Some of the communications trickled out in late 2016, but the big dump that included his longtime adviser and PR fixer for unions and real estate titans Jonathan Rosen happened yesterday.
The 4,248 pages of emails mostly lack evidence of the kind of explicitly transactional governing the mayor has been investigated for. The private de Blasio is a lot like the public de Blasio, only with more swear words, smiley faces, and bile for the press corps.
De Blasio seemingly wastes gallons of precious mayoral brain juice agonizing over negative press coverage, calls the notion of the demise of the New York Post "wishful thinking," and furiously micromanages his office's public response to crises, like the time he was criticized for being at the gym and not traveling to the crime scene where a firefighter was shot.
"First of all, the news media is pitiful and it's sad for our city and nation," the mayor wrote his staff after the controversy.
He goes on to describe the chain of command for when he is at the gym and something bad happens:
One person in charge—the only thing that ever works. From now on, Tom will be responsible for immediately convening all key personnel to decide how and when I go to the scene of a crisis. It must start immediately upon info coming in. And I expect the fastest possible decision. Until we decide otherwise,when Tom is not available, Phil will run this process. And when Phil is not available, Dom will run this process. They will never defeat us. Only we can do that. Let's get tighter, clearer, faster, better.
The mayor rages in another email that it was "totally fucked up" that the Times "turned down the only 2 op-eds I've offered in 16 months, both on very weighty topics,” and called another Times story about the political risks behind his education plan "disgusting."
We asked the Law Department how many hours were spent litigating the case, and how much it will ultimately cost taxpayers once NY1 and the Post's legal fees are taken into account, and were referred to mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips.
"The lawyers are city government attorneys who do this and many other cases throughout the day," Phillips said. He added that while city attorneys do keep timesheets in some cases, they did not in this one. "While this obviously isn’t a large case, it’s impossible to accurately calculate such a cost. I would define it as a cost more than zero and less than minimal."
Later on Brian Lehrer, the mayor defended his wish for the Post to cease to exist. "I believe the Post is not only right wing, not only distorts the facts on a regular basis, but is divisive, I'm shocked more people don't come out and talk about it," de Blasio said, adding, "No, I won't shed a tear" if the paper went under.
Isn't the mayor's effort to discredit and erode (and in some cases destroy!) the public's faith in the press a lot like President Donald Trump's efforts to do the same?
The mayor told Brian Lehrer that was a "ridiculous simplification, and the case in point."
“I have a progressive, left-wing critique of the media," the mayor told reporters later on Friday.
Presumably, that mayoral employee who keeps giving the mayor terrible advice is still employed.
If you want to spend your holiday weekend indoors, you can read (and search) the emails below.