Freddy on the Times

Greg Sargent has a long interview with Freddy Ferrer up on the site of The American Prospect, in which Ferrer pushes his criticism of the press a bit further, noting pieces he found outrageous, particularly in the Times. The specific stories clearly still rankle:

One he cites is a front-page New York Times piece headlined, “Clintons give Ferrer a hand while staying at arm’s length.” The piece, which reported that the Clintons were subtly distancing themselves from Ferrer’s floundering candidacy, infuriated some in Hillary’s camp who argued that she’d done far more for Ferrer than any other Dem. And Ferrer points out that not a single Ferrer adviser or supporter was quoted complaining about the Clintons’ supposed distance-keeping — either on or off the record.

“How a piece like that [which] doesn’t cite one shred of credible evidence makes it to the front page — that’s strictly an editorial decision,” Ferrer says. “It was incredible. Hillary called me about [the piece]. She says, ‘We’re just amazed by this.’”

Another Times piece Ferrer denounces as grossly unfair was an August 2005 article that reported that investigators had looked into a former Ferrer associate who’d solicited contributions for Ferrer in exchange for promises of government contracts. Ferrer argues that a fair amount of the story was old news, that prosecutors had already concluded that none of the charges against the associate had anything to do with Ferrer, and that the supervising prosecutor gave a statement completely exonerating him, but The Times ran the nearly 2,000-word story anyway, creating an appearance of impropriety that Ferrer’s rivals, Bloomberg included, quickly exploited. “It was a non-story,” Ferrer fumes. “There was nothing there.”

Ferrer also took issue with what he said looked like a constant effort by The Times to choose photos of him that made him look silly. “A good friend of mine who lives down the block wrote me a note during the campaign [saying], ‘Can the Times manage to get worse camera shots of you?’” Ferrer says.

A Times spokeswoman responds that the stories were fair. I think you can argue with those two stories; but they were two among many, and how many points were they worth? And the photos? The camera is not exactly Mike’s friend either.

In retrospect, a few things seem clear. It was an almost hopeless race. Ferrer made a couple big mistakes, and never seemed to settle on a clear message or to galvanize a movement. He seems to think that campaign finance would be a central issue for editorial writers, which it turned out not to be. And the press, rather than treating him as a sympathetic underdog, never warmed to him. But it seems hard to argue that the most sympathetic coverage would have changed the underlying realities.