By EDITORIAL BOARD
This past week, we saw some of our elected officials display the worst instincts of politics. We are of course talking about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s boycott of NY1, citing the ongoing labor dispute between Charter Spectrum (the parent company of NY1) and the IBEW Local 3 union.
Here’s how things went down. The mayor, who has a standing Monday interview with Inside City Hall host Errol Louis, the dean of local New York City political reporters, decided he wasn’t going to show up for the interview. He was backed in his decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (who we all know doesn’t often support the mayor in anything). Cuomo has had his own tiffs with NY1 and Charter Spectrum, infamously attacking NY1’s Albany reporter Zack Fink over the labor dispute.
As if the teaming up of the mayor and governor on a media outlet because of its owners weren’t bad enough, a bunch of New York City council members, including Queens representatives, signed a letter boycotting the news stations.
The Queens Tribune has heard from several council members who tell us they had hoped to read the letter first, but were forced to either sign, or not sign, without seeing the language because haste took precedence over substance in this fast-moving political play.
Let’s be clear about what this “boycott” means — NOTHING!
This is pure political hypocrisy. This is the type of stupid stunt that New York Democrats seem to pull all too often, when simply stating the facts and standing on principle would suffice.
We aren’t taking sides in this labor dispute. If lawmakers want to back IBEW, they should make that case. In fact, the mayor should have used his public platform to speak out on this issue. He could have even used his Monday appearance on Inside City Hall as a place to make a point backing IBEW.
The mayor and city council members who signed the letter also could have backed IBEW a long time ago. This dispute has been going on for years. In fact, when it started, NY1 was owned by Time Warner Cable.
To suggest that NY1, one of the most-trusted news outlets in the city, is all of a sudden slanting coverage to hold down IBEW is ridiculous. Or to suggest that the reporters and producers have been doing so over the course of two different owners’ tenures is equally ludicrous.
The only people being impacted by this artificial boycott are the excellent reporters and producers at NY1 and YNN, who have been true public servants in presenting unbiased news coverage to New Yorkers for decades; and the voting public of New York — who deserve to have access and accountability from their public officials.
If lawmakers were serious about this, they would cancel their subscriptions and sign up for Verizon Fios or DIRECTV or another service, and call on others to do so as well. That would actually be a boycott with conviction. That would actually be an intellectually honest boycott.
Instead, our elected officials are picking fights with political reporters who are simply keeping them honest. It’s not the same as holding rallies and calling television news stations “fake news,” but it is close. And it is despicable.