Wheelchair-Bound Reporter Singled Out by Bloomberg, Wants an Apology

There was bit of an uncomfortable moment at the mayor’s press conference today when Michael Bloomberg stopped his remarks and repeatedly expressed displeasure at a reporter in a wheelchair who struggled to turn off a tape recorder that accidentally began playing.

“Something’s playing. Maybe we could stop this and just start again,” Bloomberg said, standing at the podium with dozens of elected officials behind him, as a room full of reporters took notes. The event was also being carried live online and on television.

At one point, Christine Quinn leaned over to the podium, covered the microphone, and appeared to inform the mayor that the reporter who was responsible for the noise is in a wheelchair.

Bloomberg replied, “I understand that. He can still turn it off.”

“It’s a little too important to be playing music,” Bloomberg said later, still waiting for silence.

“Maybe we just take everything outside,” Bloomberg said, looking right at the reporter, Michael Harris of Examiner.com.

Later, during a Q&A with reporters that Harris did not attend, Bloomberg defended his actions.

“I didn’t reprimand him. He had his phone,” Bloomberg said, before correcting himself. “He comes to all the press conferences. He’s a good reporter. And we have dialogues all the time. Anybody, if you bring in a tape recorder and start playing somebody’s–I don’t know what it was, we’re going to stop.”

Afterward, Harris told me a photographer knocked over his jacket which held his recorder. When it fell onto the ground, the recorded starting playing. Harris said he at first didn’t realize where the noise was coming from, but once he did, he could not reach down and get to the recorder easily.

Regardless of the noise, Harris said the mayor was “way out of line” and that he felt “quite embarrassed at being singled out like that.”

He said, “I think the mayor took something very minor and made it into something major and was a very cheap shot at me. I do think an apology would be in order here.”