In November 2011, as Occupy Wall Street reached what would ultimately be its zenith, then-Mayor Bloomberg boasted about his absolute rule over the NYPD - a force greater than the FBI complete with a Navy, overseas intelligence offices, surface-to-air capacity, and a network of informants and domestic spies. In a speech he gave at MIT in Cambridge, MA:
“I have my own army in the NYPD, which is the seventh biggest army in the world. I have my own State Department, much to Foggy Bottom’s annoyance.
The fact that Bloomberg saw the NYPD as "his" own army unsettled some civil-libertarians, a fear which was further entrenched when the Mayor would even go on to refer to them as a military force in the summer of last year among calls to end "Stop and Frisk":
The mayor, however, said that the police department needs a clear line of authority. "No military organization or paramilitary runs where you have confusion in the command structure. You just cannot have that.
Those defending this unsettling partnership between New York's powerful mayor and the increasingly rogue NYPD would do so under the banner of democracy. Yes, the NYPD was powerful and large but it was overseen by an elected official in Bloomberg. Even setting aside the somewhat dubious means with which the mayor retained control of this position, it was an argument that was good enough to put New York's liberals at ease. But the events of the past 36 hours have entirely reduced this defense to the obvious, shallow piffle it always was. Anyone, as of this week, still under the impression that the NYPD's allegiance is to a democratic office and not an ideological partner who permits them extrajudicial autonomy, should not be taken seriously as a thinker of thoughts and a haver of opinions. In the wake of the vicious and indefensible killing of two police officers in Brooklyn Saturday afternoon, the NYPD's union proxies and its political allies have undertaken an all-out assault on the Mayor:
In a snub captured on video, a line of uniformed officers and union leaders turned silently to face the corridor walls of a Brooklyn hospital rather than look at Bill de Blasio, the Democrat mayor who some claim has betrayed them.
"There's blood on many hands tonight," Patrolman's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said late Saturday. "Those that incited violence on this street under the guise of protest, that tried to tear down what New York City police officers did everyday.
"We tried to warn it must not go on, it cannot be tolerated," Lynch continued. "That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor."
The open defiance by uniformed officers combined with Commissioner Bratton's lukewarm support of the Mayor and a year-long drip of anonymous NYPD-sourced embarrassing stories in the press, paint the picture of an outright, behind-the-scenes mutiny among the department against the one man charged with their civilian oversight. An ethos entirely consistent with a department and its sympathetic press' record since de Blasio stepped into office on New Years Day:
A Year Long History of "Scandals":
A routine 'political favor' story sourced entirely by anonymous NYPD quotes and NYPD union reps:
was pulled over at 11:21 p.m. Monday in East Flatbush for making a left turn without signaling, police said...
A police source said Findlayter later appeared before a judge and the warrants were tossed.
But Sgt. Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevelent Association, cried foul.
“If a guy has a warrant, you don’t let him go. Period,” he said. “There is no ‘discretion.’ What if you release him [and] he drives a block, blows a red light and runs somebody over and kills him? As a [police] supervisor, you have a lot to answer for. “He just confirmed that it really is a ‘tale of two cities,’ ” referring to de Blasio’s campaign mantra.
A contrived "OMG liberal hypocrisy" story about de Blasio speeding two days after his "Vision Zero", road saftey initiative is annouced. The article ignores the fact that de Blasio doesn't drive his own car, the NYPD does:
Then the mayor announced his 62-point safe streets initiative, which includes lowering the speed limit to 25 mph, he said, “We want the public to know that we are holding ourselves to this standard.”
But Kramer reported the mayor failed to practice what he preached Thursday.
CBS 2 crews found Mayor de Blasio’s cars going through a stop sign at a Queens intersection, and that wasn’t the only traffic violation caught on tape.
The reason why Ms. Kramer was inexplicably trailing and video taping the Mayor that day is left unmentioned, but considering this was the same reporter who "discovered" then-candidate Bill Clinton had smoked pot in college, one is welcome to draw their own conclusions as to how she got this particular juicy and populist scoop.
Another "OMG liberal hypocrisy" story about de Blasio getting "caught" jaywalking three days after his "Vision Zero" road safety plan is announced:
Hizzoner was gabbing on his old-school flip-phone as he slowly made his way across 11th Street on Sixth Avenue in Park Slope — and his NYPD detail faithfully jaywalked with him.
A Post reporter caught the foot faux pas on video a day after de Blasio’s SUV was filmed blowing through two stop signs in Queens and twice going 15 mph over the speed limit.
Again, happened to be caught on camera.
Contrived guilt-by-association story sourced entirely by anyonmous NYPD officials and NYPD union reps:
Khari Noerdlinger, 17, of Edgewater, NJ, had been hanging out in the lobby of a West 164th Street building with three pals — and a bottle of Hennessy cognac — when cops with the NYPD’s Manhattan Gang Unit arrived in response to a report of men loitering, according to law-enforcement sources.
Noerdlinger and pal Tyrone Roy, 21, were taken into custody — coincidentally on Rachel’s 44th birthday — because they had no ID, the sources said.
In all these stories - and many more left unmentioned - the thread is the same: a media, myopic and in need of instant outrage carries water for what is effectively a year-long, PR campaign to politically neuter the Mayor (who received a rather dispositive 73% of the vote) from pushing his policy agenda. It's a transparent power play designed to put de Blasio in his place, and the media has fallen for it largely without question. In broader partisan politics, there's a bit of balance that manages - and provides some degree of fairness - to these politically-motivated stories. But in New York de Blasio is left with virtually no partisan backing. The paper that typically defends Democrats, The Daily News - owned by a multi-billionaire who thinks discussing de Blassio's main campaign theme, inequality, is the gravest of sins - has more or less left Blasio to defend himself, even sometimes filling in for the Post as his most vocal critic. The New York Times, while ostensibly supporting de Blasio, is largely equivocal and ineffectual on the nitty gritty of local politics.
In isolation, these "scandals" seem legit enough - when put together and compared to the white glove treatment the tabloids afforded Bloomberg, they became obvious for what they are: sleazy, media hitjobs designed to undermine the one civilian (See: elected) party checking the NYPD. And as this latest series of "scandals" and back and forths with the Mayor's office and NYPD illustrate - the media is under the false impression that the NYPD's outrage is without cynical motive. Reporting only the words and counter-words and ignoring two material and glaring conflicts of interest:
The largest police union, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, is currently negotiating with the Mayor for their next contract and every amount of political capital de Blasio spends fighting this fight is that much less he can spend pushing for reforms of the NYPD.
The NYPD and their ideological confederates have a long, seething hatred for de Blasio that pre-dates the death of Eric Garner, to say nothing of the protests or the recent police murder in Brooklyn. That they would take yesterday's tragedy and some how shoehorn in de Blasio as a co-conspirator is transparently self-serving as to not be taken seriously.
But here we are. After the incendiary accusations by the NYPD reps over the past 36 hours, the torrent of media leaks, the uninviting de Blasio to dead police officers' funerals and a host of other acts of defiance, my simple question is this: when will the media start calling the NYPD's brazen insubordination what it is: an assault on democracy? The NYPD works for the Mayor (and, by extension, the voters) not any "code" or "blue blood" appeal to solidarity they may have concocted in their heads. If the President's generals did this to him in such a flagrant manner, the press would call it unconstitutional, if not outright fascist, but when it's the NYPD - a "military force" "bigger than the FBI" - the press covers it as a personality dispute among equals. It's not, it's a year-long silent coup designed to usurp the one party charged with holding the NYPD to account.