Bill de Blasio Picking Up Mayoral Testiness at Press Conferences

Bill de Blasio and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Bill de Blasio and Eric Schneiderman.

Bill de Blasio says he’s not measuring the drapes at Gracie Mansion yet, but the mayoral front-runner’s already picking up a bit of the current mayor’s grumpy attitude when it comes to the press.

Mr. de Blasio today attended one of his first government-sponsored press conference since becoming the Democratic nominee, joining Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to announce his support for a campaign to pressure cell phone manufacturers to equip smart phones with “kill switches” to cut down on a spike in crime.

But the normally jovial Mr. de Blasio, who has repeatedly vowed to have a more open administration than his predecessor, sounded much like the current mayor–who is known for being prickly with reporters–as he took off-topic questions from the press after the announcement.

When a Wall Street Journal reporter asked Mr. de Blasio specifically what he will do to keep crime down–beyond improving police-community relations and reforming stop-and-frisk–Mr. de Blasio, whose opponent has threatened that crime will spike if he’s elected mayor, quickly shot back.

“I’ve delineated them incessantly, with all due respect. I would ask people to take a brief look at our platform online if they’d like to see our plans and then ask about those specific plans,” said Mr. de Blasio, towering over Mr. Schneiderman at the podium, with a tinge of condescension in his voice.

“But I will delineate them for you,” he continued, running through several of the points in his platform, including pledging to keep the city’s police staffing levels consistent, expanding the use of new technology and doubling down on gang intervention strategies.

Next came a question from a Daily News reporter who pressed Mr. de Blasio to expand on his experiences “at” the Crown Heights riots.

“I wasn’t ‘at’ it …  Your article did get that right and I wanted to say–since you said ‘at’–I want to confirm I was not there on the site,” interrupted Mr. de Blasio. The reporter, Greg Smith, clarified he’d meant to say that Mr. de Blasio had been part of the process (he’d worked in Mayor David Dinkins’s administration), but Mr. de Blasio pushed back.

“Greg, with all due respect, I appreciate your article. Again, I’m gonna to be a little bit clear with people who make inaccurate statements. I’m going to address them,” said Mr. de Blasio. “I was in City Hall working on the staff. I did receive calls from concerned community leaders around the city and that’s all … I was not on the site. I came away with very strong views but I did not participate directly. I just need to be crystal clear about that.”

Mr. de Blasio previously told Politicker that he planned to maintain Mr. Bloomberg’s schedule of regularly holding press conferences where off-topic questions are fielded.

“Yeah, sure,” he directly answered after a Columbus Day parade earlier this month. “I think my response was clear and detailed,” he added, when pressed.

Additional reporting by Colin Campbell. Bill de Blasio Picking Up Mayoral Testiness at Press Conferences