Joe Lhota campaign ad. (Source: Joe Lohta for Mayor, Inc)
So is Joe Lhota’s attack ad against Bill de Blasio in the NYC mayor’s race the latest incarnation of Willie Horton, or is it merely a color-blind piece of highly misleading fear-mongering?
Released the day after de Blasio trounced Lhota in Tuesday’s debate, the ad flashes photos of riots and corpses to claim that “Bill de Blasio’s recklessly dangerous agenda on crime will take us back” to the bad old days of high crime and graffiti gone wild. The ad starts, though, with that viral video of bikers attacking an SUV in Manhattan:
Those are indeed some scary photos, all presumably from before mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg made the city safe. But in some terrific digging, AM New York discovered that the photo of a body laying near a shopping cart is from December 2, 2012, when Mayor Bloomberg was fully in charge (as he will be until January 1, 2014). Changing the original color photo to black and white does help age it bit.
And that still shot of a man with a ’fro drawing a gun in a stairwell? Well, that’s an undercover police officer (from 1978), not, as you might think given the fear-inducing context, a gunman caught in the act.
But what about the ad’s specific charges, like that “Bill de Blasio voted to take over 5,000 cops off our streets”? Turns out that was a Bloomberg initiative. “It is true,” says a New York Times factcheck, “that Mr. de Blasio, as a councilman, voted in favor of budgets proposed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that led to a reduction of the Police Department’s work force.”
OK, but after that biker attack (which occurred, of course, in the dark old days of a few weeks ago), did de Blasio respond by saying cops should “visit motorcycle clubs and talk to bikers,” as you might conclude from the quotation marks? No. Those words come from a New York Post paraphrase; its story did at least go on to quote de Blasio’s actual words: “Democrat Bill de Blasio, meanwhile, has urged that cops visit motorcycle clubs and talk to bikers. ‘We have to be very tough on this one—this is an unacceptable state of affairs,’ de Blasio said.”