Sunday, March 16, 2014

In radio interview, Gov. Andrew Cuomo bemoans bloggers and 24-hour news cycle

24-Hour News Cycle Makes Government More Transparent, An Aspect That Gov. Cuomo Apparently Dislikes

In a radio interview conducted this morning by John Catsimatidis, Gov. Andrew Cuomo complained about the scrutiny that social media, bloggers, and the 24-hour news cycle place on elected officials, a problem that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, never had to face.

“I don’t believe it raises the quality,” Gov. Cuomo said during the radio interview. “As a matter of fact, I think it lowers the quality, but it increases the frequency. These 24-hour blogs. Everybody’s in a competition. They have to get it up first. They have to get it up fast. So you have this constant chatter, that is not necessarily the most credible, the most insightful. But it’s constant and that dictates a rhythm to the governmental dialogue, which again is fast, and quick and facile, but not necessarily intellectual or correct.” (via The New York Daily News)

Bloggers are notoriously difficult to control. Each one is independent, and bloggers strenuously defend their autonomy. Perhaps this independence is a cause of concern for Gov. Cuomo. The armies of lobbyists and campaign consultants employed by elected officials and big business interests are always calling newspaper, radio, and TV reporters to control the daily talking points that elected officials want to see advanced in the mainstream media. But bloggers generally find the motivations of the backroom class of political insider operatives more suspect than mainstream media reporters, who are more resigned to go with the flow. Witness how reporters basically failed to vet -- and refused to accept responsibility for vetting -- Bill de Blasio in last year's mayoral race. If it weren't for bloggers, nobody would have covered the shady, undeclared lobbying that corrupted the race for New York City Council speaker.

But for bloggers, few would read information, for example, about how Gov. Cuomo's Medicaid Redesign Team has been a front group to make wholesale cuts to healthcare by closing entire hospitals, a furtherance of austerity measures begun by former Republican Gov. George Pataki's Berger Commission, a view you wouldn't get from, say, Anemona Hartocollis, the metropolitan healthcare reporter for The New York Times. A Web site administered by the housing activist and blogger John Fisher contributed to the years-long, grassroots effort to vote former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn out of office. The Atlantic Yards Report blog has published a wealth of information about the real estate corruption and community betrayals that took place in the furtherance of Forest City Ratner's zone-busting development for the Atlantic Yards section of Brooklyn. And many mainstream reporters are said to check in daily on the Queens Crap blog for news tips that regularly show up as full-fledged reports on local New York City TV news broadcasts. Since bloggers aren't afraid to tell the political truth, no matter how unflattering it may be to elected officials, the followers of certain political blogs will actually learn about how voters get short-changed by the shortcomings of the political expediency that elected officials practise.

But the steadfast independence of bloggers hasn't stopped politicians from trying to control bloggers. Concerned about parental backlash to administration attacks on charter schools, New York City Mayor de Blasio recently announced an effort to subvert bloggers' independence by spoon-feeding parent bloggers with campaign-styled messaging on his universal pre-kinder program. Mayor de Blasio had to scurry into the arms of parent bloggers after he angered the City Hall press corps by restricting their access to him, hiding appointments from his public schedule, and by walking away from reporters' questions. His predecessor, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, was king of his own media empire, and he didn't need bloggers. Hence, Mayor Bloomberg once derided all bloggers as lawless partisans.

This is a breaking-news post. Please check back for possible updates.

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