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New York mayor takes it on the chin in city media

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[July 18, 2014]  By Ellen Wulfhorst
 NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio won his job in a landslide last November, but is finding out that staying so popular is not easy.

On Thursday, he was labeled "an ass" on the cover of one city tabloid after being skewered in another as behaving like Marie Antoinette and accused on television of being a socialist.

"It does seem to me that de Blasio has gotten a much shorter honeymoon than previous mayors," said Jerry Skurnik, a veteran political consultant.

De Blasio, who won office with 73 percent of the vote in the city's biggest mayoral electoral win in decades, came under fire this week with his plans to take a vacation in Italy despite the threat of a Long Island Rail Road strike.

That prompted a headline in the New York Post that read: "Let Them Ride Gondolas."

The strike was averted on Thursday.

The Democratic mayor's media woes arguably can be traced back to the night before his Jan. 1 formal inauguration when he shut most of the media out of his swearing-in ceremony and raised the hackles of the city press corps.

The liberal mayor was blasted by the New York Post in January over whether snowplows were ignoring the rich on Manhattan's Upper East side.

By mid-February, after the mayor's decision to keep schools open in a heavy snowstorm and his controversial call to police over the arrest of a friend, the New York Times declared his honeymoon was over.

"The honeymoon will always run out on a newly elected New York City mayor," the Times wrote. "But after just six weeks in office, Bill de Blasio has discovered that wintry weather and a hint of impropriety can hinder the careful plans of a young administration quicker than most."

On "The Colbert Report," a satirical cable television show, host Stephen Colbert accused him in an interview on Wednesday of taking the city back to the 1980s and "the bad days of the squeegee men and the rampant crime and the leg warmers."

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"The leg warmers weren't so bad," De Blasio replied, seemingly taking it in stride.

Blazing "You're an Ass, Mr. Mayor" on its front page on Thursday, the Daily News accused him of ignoring petitions to preserve the carriage horse industry in Central Park.

The mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

De Blasio has it worse than his predecessors thanks to tenacious and incessant social media, said Lee Miringoff, director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

"It's all gotten much harder to control your message," he said, "with social media and ... what politicians like to think is a 'gotcha' mentality."

"Coverage has gotten more quick and dirty," Miringoff said.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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