Mayoral front-runner Bill de Blasio today criticized The New York Times for its depiction of his efforts supporting Latin American revolutionaries, expressing surprise at how the paper had treated the story, which has dominated the campaign trail since it was published Sunday.
In an interview with WNYC’s Brain Lehrer, Mr. de Blasio was asked whether he felt the story, headlined “A Mayoral Hopeful Now, de Blasio Was Once a Young Leftist,” had been fair.
“Did you bristle at the journalism at all, like why do we need the New York Post if the Times is gonna publish a headline saying you were a leftist?” asked Mr. Lehrer.
“I thought the story clearly could have been more balanced and I thought the particular use of terminologies–I found it surprising, let’s just put it that way,” responded, Mr. de Blasio, likely referring to the paper’s mention that he had described himself back in 1990 as an advocate of “democratic socialism.”
“Yes, I did write that phrase on a piece of paper in 1990, but I always described my philosophy of being made up of a blend of influences and ideas,” explained Mr. de Blasio. “I was surprised in the year 2013 to see in that newspaper that particular approach.”
The candidate went on to provide a description of that blend, which was described in the story.
“I think that article didn’t fully represent what I feel except for one passage,” he said, “that very accurately noted that one part of me is a New Deal Democrat–just an updated version of it–one part of me is probably similar to a European Social Democrat, and I’m also very deeply influenced by liberation theology, which I learned a lot about in the years I worked on Latin America.”
Overall, he said, people should understand him as “a consistent progressive with a very strong activist worldview and someone who wants to make substantial change in this city.”
Mr. de Blasio also yet again defended his support for the Nicaraguan Sandinista party, which has been slammed repeatedly by his Republican rival, Joe Lhota.
“I’m very proud to have been deeply involved in a movement that rightfully thought U.S. policy toward Central America was wrong-headed and counter-productive and not in line with our values,” he said. “I’m proud to have been involved in the effort that was challenging that.”