Newark mayor Cory Booker is pushing back, hard, against a recent New York Times profile that shredded the superstar politician for skirting his government duties in favor of Manhattan movie premieres and the company of celebrities. Booker's response that isn't that unusual, though: he's pushed back, just as hard, against other, equally unflattering media portrayals of himself and his city. Here's a recent history of his responses to negative press:
The New York Times, December 2012
In recent days, Mr. Booker has made the rounds of the national media with his pledge to live on food stamps for a week. But his constituents do not need to be reminded that six years after the mayor came into office vowing to make Newark a “model of urban transformation,” their city remains an emblem of poverty.
Booker's response this week, via the Huffington Post's Michael Calderone:
"In my entire career, I have never seen an article so factually wrong and so willfully willing to exclude facts to attack my work and the progress of our city," Booker said in an email to The Huffington Post. "And the article's appearance on the front page made it all the more difficult to swallow."
The New Republic, December 2012
Thesis: pretty much the same as the Times, but with fewer damning anecdotes:
The anti-Booker narrative is that the administration has slipped because Booker has spent too many days outside the city and too much time, well, writing 140-character missives. “The average Newarker is not doing that,” James says. “The average Newarker is trying to find work, educate themselves and raise their families. A tweet, an Instagram—that’s entertainment. It’s not the average Newarker’s bread and butter.”
Booker's response: a tweet.
In a difficult media day here is a hard-nosed, tough but fair look at my administration bit.ly/TZam0m— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) December 14, 2012
David Axelrod, MSNBC, May 2012
Thesis: While defending private equity from attacks launched by the Obama campaign et al, Booker interrupted the president's narrative about Mitt Romney, and also got several things wrong about private equity:
"In this particular instance, he was just wrong," Axelrod said in an interview on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." "There were specific instances here that speak to an economic theory that isn't the right theory for the country."
Booker's response: a conciliatory YouTube video.
Esquire, July 2008
Thesis: Newark is mired in violence, and Cory Booker is here to save the it from total ruin.
Lousy housing? Check. Rampant unemployment? You bet. Shitty schools? Bingo. Gang warfare? My, yes. Newark may have only one movie house -- and zero new-car dealerships and big-box stores -- but it has what might be the world's only Toys "R" Us knockoff Ebonically named Wee Bee Kids, close to City Hall. [...] I leave Newark and feel nothing except happy that I don't live there -- a state of spiritual and moral zombiehood that belies all lip service, however heartfelt.
Booker's response: a fulminating 2,000-word letter to the editor. Here's the first paragraph:
ENOUGH! Esquire Magazine’s July article “The Battle of Newark” by Scott Raab offers another narrow, clichéd, and grossly insulting misinterpretation of Newark—its people, neighborhoods, successes and progress. It painfully ignores the true Newark and instead casts our home as a destitute, depraved city. It is one thing to tolerate such ignorant criticism from painful pundits who have not even visited our city (such as ESPN’s Barry Melrose who after a short visit quickly changed from panning Newark to praising Newark), but the writer spent months in Newark, witnessing firsthand the diverse greatness of our city and our people, as well as our challenges and how we are uniting to meet them.