Shame on New York Magazine


This Mayor Mike for Prez thing is out of control. It's not like he really equivocates—he says it over and over every time he's asked: he plans to be mayor for 3 more years, which, um takes him passed 2008, he does not plan to run for president and he is ready to be a full time philanthropist when he leaves office.

With all of that, why do I keep seeing articles and blog posts about this? This week’s cover of New York Magazine proclaims “BLOOMBERG '08: HE’S SERIOUS.” This is not a story, it's a fabrication. Insisting that something is a story does not make it one. The Empire Zone tried so hard to make it seem like Tom Suozzi was a real candidate this year. It failed because it was false from day one and they just looked silly.

The media are powerful. People believe what they read on the covers of magazines. I spoke to someone at the Stonewall holiday party last week (which was a pretty amazing party, by the way) who told me Mike was running for president, "I saw it on the cover of New York Magazine." I explained to this person that New York Magazine lied and why it was a lie. "Oh" she said.

That cover made me lose a lot of respect for that magazine. I bought it for research purposes (and for a clear scan of the cover), which kind of makes me sick to my stomach. The extremely long (you’d think you were reading the New Yorker long) article, entitled "His American Dream" is much less bold that the cover headline; in fact it states several times that he's not running.

You know the quality of reporting is, shall we say flawed, when you read “Until last week, when the furor over the Queens police shooting erupted, Michael Bloomberg, 64, was having a nearly perfect year.” Um, heard of how he ignored, err, handled the Queens blackout? It then goes on to quote such unbiased sources as fellow zillionaire number one Deputy Mayor Daniel “West Side Stadium” Doctoroff and fellow zillionaire number two Steve Rattner on how great Mike is: “[H]e is, in the words of Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, ‘a great, visionary mayor.’ This sentiment is echoed, not surprisingly, by his friends. ‘There’s just no question,’ says the investor Steve Rattner, ‘that he is the greatest mayor of New York since Fiorella La Guardia.’” Nah, no bias there.

The article goes on to state again and again and again that the man is not planning to run for president:
Bloomberg has steadfastly insisted that he has no intention of hurling himself at the White House. He plans to serve out his term, then turn his attention to giving away his monumental fortune.

The day after Bloomberg’s reelection, Kevin Sheekey, his campaign manager, gave a TV interview…appearing on NY1 News, he averred that a Bloomberg presidential bid was “not likely”—though no one had asked if it was.

“If you ask me in my heart of hearts,” [Mike] says, “I don’t think that my view will change that I have a better job, I’d like to finish out what I’m doing here and then try something brand-new, which is challenging, in philanthropy ... I was elected for four years. Now, everybody says this is ridiculous, but I take it seriously—though I don’t know that it’s a be-all and end-all thing ... Then there’s practical aspects of, ‘Hey, pro-choice, pro–gay rights, pro–science and evolution, against guns’—I don’t know that I’d ever have the opportunity.
(alterations in the original, except for “[Mike]”.)
[S]ome Bloomberg confidants believe the odds are low that the mayor will bring himself to pull the trigger. “He views running as an independent as a triple bank shot,” says a friend. “He hasn’t closed his mind to it, but the probabilities are he won’t get comfortable with that.”
Sans the sensationalism on the cover, it’s a somewhat balanced piece. It essentially can be boiled down to: the man says he’s not running, but he’s a zillionaire, he’s ambitious, he’s popular, so maybe he will. But the problem is that 99.9% of people who saw this cover, saw it on the newsstand, checkout line or doctor's office coffee table and will not read the article. He is not “serious” about running. The cover is, quite frankly, a lie. This is extraordinarily bad journalism and New York Magazine should be ashamed of itself.