On Tuesday, standing before the brass at the police headquarters in lower Manhattan, New York’s billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg defended his administration’s policing practices, particularly its stop-and-frisk policy, which gives police officers broad leeway to stop and search people on the street.
The policy has come under harsh criticism by all four of the Democrats vying to replace Bloomberg next year, as well as by civil rights and civil liberties groups, as unfairly targeting minorities. But Mayor Bloomberg directed much of his ire at perhaps the only institution in Gotham that can rival him in clout and influence: The New York Times, whose editorial page has consistently deplored the practice—a recent piece called stop-and-frisk “widely loathed and constitutionally offensive”—and whose editors have given prominent newspaper real estate to police abuses.
The mayor accused The Times on Tuesday of hypocrisy for covering stop and frisk extensively, but failing to cover the murder of a 17-year-old in the Bronx—a murder, the mayor implied, of which there would be many more were it not for his public safety measures.
“There was not even a mention of his murder in our paper of record, The New York Times. All the news that’s fit to print did not include the murder of 17-year-old Alphonza Bryant,” the mayor said. “Do you think that if a White 17-year-old prep student from Manhattan had been murdered, the Times would have ignored it? Me neither.”
Bloomberg tweaked the editorial board over that “widely loathed” comment, noting that it came four days after the unreported murder of Bryant.
“Four days after Alphonza Bryant’s murder went unreported by the Times, the paper published another editorial attacking stop-question-frisk. They called it a ‘widely loathed’ practice…Let me tell you what I loathe. I loathe that 17-year minority children can be senselessly murdered in the Bronx—and some of the media doesn’t even consider it news.”
A Times editor was unavailable to respond to the charge of why the paper did not cover the murder in the Bronx. But it is worth noting that the paper of record, as Bloomberg calls it, isn’t a crime blotter, and it’s coverage of local news has shrunk dramatically over the last decade. The city’s other two dailies didn’t give it much notice, either, and a Times spokesman said the paper in general only writes about fewer than a quarter of the murders each year recorded in New York City.