One Police Plaza

“I Told You We Can't Trust Him”       

April 6, 2015

Those famous words — attributed to an anonymous source and displayed on Page 1 of the Post on Nov. 2, 2014 — were supposedly uttered by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, about Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.
Despite the anonymous sourcing and the mayor’s and Bratton's denials, but in light of the anti-police tenor of de Blasio’s first year in office, those words had the ring of truth.

Last Wednesday, the Post had another front-page story, attributed to anonymous sources. This one said that the previous Monday, Bratton had stormed out of a meeting with de Blasio’s top deputy, Anthony Shorris, and vowed to go around him to obtain funding for 1,000 more cops.

“If I don’t get them from you,” the Post quoted Bratton telling Shorris, “I’ll go to the City Council and get them.”

This time, Bratton went ballistic on the Post.

“There’s not a single factual item in that story,” he said at a news conference, adding that he hadn’t even met with Shorris on Monday.

Despite Bratton’s categorical denial, the Post came back on Thursday with a second story, this one with “multiple sources” who “confirmed the [Wednesday] story’s accuracy and said they were stunned by the shameless denials.”

“ ‘I can’t believe he [Bratton] is denying it,’ a source said,” according to the Post.

Bratton went ballistic, again. “I’m the police commissioner of the City of New York,” he said. “I say that meeting never happened. If the Post is so convinced it did happen, I would categorically say their sources are lying. They can bring 10 more sources — it never happened.”

Bratton even questioned whether the paper’s so-called sources exist. “They have no sources. They don’t even reference them as law enforcement sources, so God knows where they’re coming from,” Bratton said.

After the news conference, Bratton spoke to NYPD Confidential about Larry Celona, a veteran police reporter with a difficult disposition, whose byline appeared on both stories. “I’ve known Larry for 25 years,” Bratton said. “Why would Larry attach his name to a story like that?”

Celona — whose byline was also on the McCray story five months before — did not respond to an email.

Actually, attaching a reporter’s name to a story he didn’t write is not without precedent at the Post.

In 2009, this reporter was contracted by the Post’s then book editor, Abby Wisse Schacter, to write a review of a book by Paul Bacon: “Bad Cop — New York’s Least Likely Police Officer Tells All.”

Instead, the review, which appeared on Feb. 22, 2009, ran as a news story under the byline of Post reporter Cynthia R. Fagan. [See NYPD Confidential, March 23, March 30 and April 6: “My Dream or Why I Love the NY Post.”]
By Saturday, the Post seemed looking for a face-saving exit from its Bratton/Shorris story.

Calling Bratton “a consummate public-safety professional” and “an adept politician,” an editorial said that “a pol’s skills — including the ability to shave and even flatly deny the truth — were vital to keeping the NYPD functioning” under de Blasio.

“[W]e can take our lumps,” the editorial continued, “so long as he [Bratton] can keep resolving the contradictions between the mayor’s political debts and the safety of all New Yorkers.”

The editorial concluded: “You’re in our prayers, Mr. Commissioner.”


Copyright © 2015 Leonard Levitt