Birds of a feather do flock together. So do trolls of a stripe. And Bill de Blasio, the radical mayor of what used to be New York, is taking the leftovers from another radical mayor.
A controversial former aide to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom who resigned after he was caught attacking journalists online under a phony name online has been appointed senior adviser to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Peter Ragone served as a spokesperson for Newsom until 2007, when he admitted to badmouthing local reporters and political opponents in online news forums under the pseudonyms “John Nelson” and “Bjorn.”
After the blog SFist tracked the IP address of “John Nelson” to Ragone’s home computer, the mayoral flack claimed Nelson was his “best friend” who often stayed at Ragone’s house.
“John Nelson is my best friend, and yes, he does stay at my house all the time,” Ragone said. “Our sons are best friends also. I think we have the same viewpoints on most things.”
Ragone later admitted to posting the comments, calling his actions “stupid.”
De Blasio’s office announced Ragone’s appointment on Monday, saying that he “will serve as a senior adviser for strategic planning, building on an extensive career as a spokesman and strategic adviser for mayors, governors, and federal officials.”
So if you suddenly see Bjorn showing up in Front Page’s comments section on De Blasio stories, you know that Ragone is doing his job.
Former Mayor Willie Brown told KGO-TV at the time that the sock puppet scandal “raises serious questions about [Ragone's] credibility and effectiveness. … As a journalist, how can you believe what he says?”
Peter Ragone, who served as a chief media spokesman for Newsom, was named as the senior adviser for policy, according to de Blasio.
“I have relied on Peter Ragone for his council for many years,” de Blasio said during a press conference announcing the new appointments.”I have found him to be an extraordinarily insightful and strategic thinker, and I knew that I wanted him to come be a part of this team and to come back to his native land and help us as we built this administration.”
So Bill de Blasio’s strategic insight came from an internet troll.