New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is taking some heat in the local media this morning over an incident that occurred during a press conference yesterday about same-sex marriages. Interestingly, the fuss has nothing to do with anything he said. Rather, the scrutiny pertains to the fact that he stopped his remarks cold when a reporter's tape recorder started playing during the middle of Hizzoner's prepared comments.
With cameras rolling and New York governor David Patterson and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn by his side, the mayor was driven to distraction when a tape recorder used by examiner.com reporter Michael A. Harris began playing loudly while the mayor was speaking. "Something's playing?" Bloomberg inquired. "Can we stop this and maybe we'll start again?" At that point, Speaker Quinn covered the microphones and whispered in the mayor's ear that the owner of the tape recorder was in a wheelchair. "I understand that, but he can still turn it off." A full 90 seconds of interruption ensued as Harris and others attempted to locate the source of the noise, which turned out to be a tape recorder in the reporter's jacket that had switched on after the jacket was inadvertently knocked to the ground by a photographer.
Responding to questions about the incident afterward, Bloomberg defended his actions, saying that same-sex marriage is the single-most important social issue facing New York at the moment and that it deserved to be discussed free of the distraction of an errant tape recorder. The reporter, for his part, is feeling belittled and wants Bloomberg to make amends: “I think the mayor took something very minor and made it into something major and was a very cheap shot at me," Harris told politicker.com reporter Azi Paybarah,
"I do think an apology would be in order here.”
So was an apology really necessary?
Harris is 100-percent right. An apology was in order. But the act of contrition should have come from him—not from Bloomberg. The mayor was correct to stop and wait for the situation to be rectified. The fact that Harris is in a wheelchair does not change the fact that the press conference would have been thrown off-kilter had the tape recorder been allowed to continue playing while the mayor spoke. Bloomberg kept his calm throughout and his only remarks were that the situation needed to be addressed before he went on. His tone was not warm and fuzzy, but it needn't have been. The mayor acted absolutely appropriately.
What do you think? Judge for yourself here.
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