Bill de Blasio is a radical, but he's also cagey
Why close a boilerplate political event to the press? Bill de Blasio is a radical, but he's also cagey and there may be people there he may not want to be photographed in public with.
When Mayor de Blasio's office first moved his public schedule for Thursday, it listed two very different events, both open to the press: The weigh-in for the Nathan's Famous 4th of July Hot Dog Eating Contest at City Hall, and the Ramadan Iftar Dinner 2014 at Gracie Mansion.
A short time ago, the press team re-sent Hizzoner's schedule with an update: No reporters at the Ramadan gathering. No reason given.
De Blasio Press Secretary Phil Walzak described the occasion, a traditional breaking of the fast, as "solemn."
He said reporters are barred because "it is a sit-down dinner and there also is a praying portion."
That's not a reason to bar the press. And if it's a solemn event, then you don't invite politicians or hold them in City Hall. If you do have an event in City Hall then it should be open to the press.
"Last year and the year before this event was closed press — it historically has always been closed."
Update: Actually, no, not always. There was plenty of press coverage of then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg's hosting of the annual dinner in 2010.
Clearly it hasn't always been closed. And De Blasio has a history of closing events to the press that used to be open. This is a tactic he has in common with fellow left-wing radical Barack Obama.