Mayor Bill de Blasio has hired a City Hall reporter from the tabloid he resents most, the New York Post, to be his new press secretary.
Mr. de Blasio’s press office, poking fun at their sour relationship with the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, played a little April Fools’ Day prank on the press corps this afternoon, announcing they had tapped Yoav Gonen, the Post‘s City Hall bureau chief, to join the mayor’s liberal administration. The release, written in the same format as the press office’s more serious fare, had particularly good timing: the Post reported on their front page today that Police Commissioner Bill Bratton stormed out of a meeting with Mr. de Blasio’s first deputy mayor, a story Mr. de Blasio’s team furiously denied.
“With so many recent departures, we needed to ensure we hired a professional with institutional knowledge—someone who could aggressively wrestle New York City’s notoriously unruly tabloids,” said Phil Walzak, Mr. de Blasio’s senior adviser, in a statement. “Certainly we would all agree that anyone who is well-versed in the New York Post is the perfect fit for the de Blasio Administration.”
The joke works on a few levels. Reporters often gripe that Mr. de Blasio’s relationship with the press would be more adequate if he appointed people who understood the rough-and-tumble city news cycle a little better. Mr. de Blasio often says he only wants people in his administration who share his progressive values.
The proudly right-wing Post does not.
Mr. Gonen did not immediately return a request for comment, but a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, Ishanee Parikh, said the whole press office collaborated on the prank. “The Press Office came up with this one together!” Ms. Parikh said in an email.
The release mock praises Mr. Gonen for his “cutting edge social media,” linking to his Twitter account and SoundCloud page, where he mixes house music under the moniker “YoMasterAv.”
Mr. Gonen’s quote in the press release is just a line from his Twitter bio: “Will RT anything, even if it’s true.”
Once upon a time, a Post reporter becoming a City Hall press secretary would not have been such a joke. Former Mayor Ed Koch, a Democrat like Mr. de Blasio, hired Post bureau chief George Arzt for the coveted position.
After Mr. Walzak’s recent promotion, Mr. de Blasio is still actually on the hunt for a new press secretary.
View the full press release below:
NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today appointed a new Press Secretary to replace recently-promoted Phil Walzak. The Press Secretary will report directly to the Mayor’s Senior Advisor Phil Walzak and manage day-to-day interactions with the New York City Press Corps.
The incoming Press Secretary, Yoav Gonen, brings years of experience from the East Wing of City Hall as a beat reporter and New York Post City Hall Bureau Chief – and he’s is well-versed in cutting edge social media, actively engaging in the online political discussion via Twitter and on SoundCloud as YoMasterAv.
“With so many recent departures, we needed to ensure we hired a professional with institutional knowledge – someone who could aggressively wrestle New York City’s notoriously unruly tabloids,” said Senior Advisor Phil Walzak. “Certainly we would all agree that anyone who is well-versed in the New York Post is the perfect fit for the de Blasio Administration.”
“Will RT anything, even if it’s true,” said incoming Press Secretary Yoav Gonen.