Saturday, December 20, 2014

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NY1 Political Director Bob Hardt's daily look Inside City Hall.

NY1 ItCH: Hizzoner's Pitch for a Charm Offensive

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After having a surprisingly bumpy first three months with the city's press corps, Mayor de Blasio is hitting the reset button, sitting down with a slew of reporters yesterday and hosting a cocktail party for them at Gracie Mansion on Friday night. As the mayor checked them off his list, the long line of journalists waiting to speak to him yesterday for their City Hall interview appointments (including our own Errol Louis resembled a doctor's office from hell.)

While fighting for pre-K and helping the homeless might be a tad more important than having a beer with a reporter from Room 9, the mayor is discovering that "going directly to the people" isn't always the smartest strategy when those same people also read newspapers, blogs, and watch the news on TV.

De Blasio and his team are doing a better job dealing with the fact that – like life – the media isn't always fair. If coverage seems overblown about a single issue, complaining about it sometimes makes it worse. You can argue about a lousy call from a ref or play on. Certainly some of the coverage surrounding snow removal was overblown as was the obsession about the mayor's speeding motorcade -- but City Hall's handling of those stories was also sluggish, turning sad songs for the mayor into week-long dirges.

Increasing access to de Blasio is also a smart move; he's the administration's secret weapon, joking before his interviews and looking relaxed and poised before dealing with thousands of disgruntled Mets fans at while throwing out the first pitch at Citi Field on Opening Day. After 12 years of an often-grumpy Bloomberg, de Blasio is the smart and goofy guy you'd like to hang out with in the cheap seats.

It also helps the mayor that Gov. Cuomo -- the state's alpha-dog Democrat -- seems like the kind of politician that children aren't allowed to pet. Cuomo largely avoids one-on-one on-the-record interviews except talking with radio reporters, a strategy that could boomerang should his approval ratings sag.

With the pre-K battle behind him and the snow gone, the mayor is embracing spring. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

Bob Hardt

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