Mayor de Blasio held a press conference earlier this week at Tweed Courthouse to announce a major new policy directive. He was joined by Melissa Mark-Viverito, Zachary Carter, Carmen Fariña, Gale Brewer, Vanessa Gibson, Nisha Agarwal, Carlos Menchaca, Helen Rosenthal, and a number of other officials and advocates.
The announcement was that from now on ICE agents will not be allowed in DOE schools unless they have a warrant. Everybody took a turn at the mike to denounce fear and hate. Corporation Counsel Carter and the head of school security for the NYPD ran through all the new protocols and training, the chains of command and lines of authority, the phone trees and channels of communication. Who would authenticate the warrants, who would accompany the agents. What number to call when the children are arrested and where you can go to get help.
At question time I asked the obvious question: “How many incidents have there been so far of ICE agents trying to enter schools, with or without warrants.” Mayor de Blasio answered, “None, so far.” Hmm. Then I had another question for Chancellor Fariña.
Later I went on YouTube to review the video of the press conference. But when the video came to my question there was an odd skip: the first question was cut from the video, and picked up again about 15 seconds later with my question for Fariña.
Someone with authority in Mayor de Blasio’s communications department decided that his answer to my question was off-message, and edited the tape to erase the part where the mayor admits that his new policy directive addresses a problem that does not exist. Basically it was all for show.
I excerpted a clip from the video to preserve the evidence that the mayor’s press office redacted his comments. Here it is:
Later I wrote to the City Hall press office and asked them to put the unedited video online. I also asked them what their policy is on editing these videos, and whether they typically edit sections that they don’t want made available.
A few hours later they wrote back with a link to the unedited video. They removed the original, edited version, and did not answer my other questions. I can send you the email if you want to see it. Here is the unedited video, which picks up where I first asked my question.
Mayor de Blasio has taken flak from the press for his bizarre “on-topic/off-topic” press conferences. He wants strictly to control his interactions with the press and ensure that his media availability serves his agenda, except for about fifteen minutes per week where he will take a handful of “off-topic” questions: that’s what he calls them, as though they are “impertinent” or “beside the point.”
Now it seems that in addition to limiting the types of questions the mayor will even hear, he and his staff will change the public record if his answers come out wrong.
By the way, here is an article I wrote for City Journal about the policy directive and how Mayor de Blasio uses fear as a political tool.