A funny thing about the widespread media attention that “perfectly imperfect” Eric Adams got for his speech Tuesday morning declaring himself God’s chosen mayor is that he’s been saying this again and again, with little previous coverage except for a column I wrote a year ago calling out his messianic rhetoric.
The mayor finally made headlines, and overwhelmingly negative ones, for a speech to interfaith leaders that was also, mostly unnoted by the media, a critique of the media for supposedly keeping his good news from being recognized by enough New Yorkers.
The public servant called himself “a servant of God” and said the Almighty Herself had “so many times to leave me, so many times to abandon me, but she has not.” (The lowercase “s” in “she,” by the way, is from the transcript provided by the mayor’s office.)
Rather, in his telling, God decided that “I’m going to take this broken child, this individual who is the epitome of the mistakes a human being can make in a lifetime, and I’m going to elevate him to the most important city in the country.”
In his latest swipe at flyover country, Adams added, “He could have made me the mayor of Topeka, Kan.”
But in the chosen land of New York City, Adams complained — while using a sponge as a prop and repeating 10 times over the course of his speech a refrain to “wring it out,” with “it” being negativity — his administration’s accomplishments have been obscured by a press that, taking its cues from social media, relentlessly focuses on bad news:
“We are saturated with so much despair every day, all day. You can’t pick up a paper without someone reminding you of the negative parts of our lives. You’re meeting people every day and all they’re doing is telling you what’s wrong with you. All they’re doing is telling you you no longer look this way. You no longer talk this way, how bad you are. You’re listening to the negative sounds everywhere you go…
“So we put in place a system where we want to communicate with you directly. We want you to sign up for that because the bearer of bad news is not looking to bring good news. And there are too many people who are professionals at bringing bad news. Because there’s something exciting about bringing bad news to people. Just as an emotion of happiness is an emotion, an emotion of despair is also an emotion, and there’s a lot of people that enjoy the emotion of despair. We need to now surround ourselves with those who enjoy the emotion of happiness. Sign up and be a part of spreading the good news.”
That “system,” by the way, consists of a newsletter New Yorkers can sign up for, along with several podcasts including one hosted by Adams himself — who is upbeat and and entertaining in that role — to hear from his administration about his administration as he tries to sidestep the press and its pesky questions and fixations.
Good luck with that.
Another funny thing is that Adams — who likes to riff about how “lions don’t care about the opinions of sheep” but also about how, “You can’t be a good shepherd if you’re not hanging out with the sheep” — has been brilliant at drawing press attention to the Eric Adams Show.
He’s certainly delivered on his promise not to be boring!
What’s frustrating him appears to be that, for all of his success in keeping a local and national spotlight on Eric Adams, the “perfectly imperfect” character, he hasn’t been able to convert the attention focused on him into glowing coverage of his administration.
The mayor may “wring it out” himself but getting New Yorkers to do so is about delivering results, not sermons. The space between words and deeds helps explain the space polling has shown between what people think of Adams (they mostly like him) and what they think of the job he’s doing delivering on his promises (they mostly don’t approve).
Adams, of course, isn’t the first mayor to whine publicly or privately about how his great works haven’t been appreciated.
His predecessor Bill de Blasio, who liked to dodge the local press by talking to national outlets, infamously told Rolling Stone in his second year in office that “A lot of people outside New York City understand what happened in the first year of New York City better than people in New York City. But I’m convinced something very special happened here.”
He never did convince New Yorkers, though.
Mayors aren’t messiahs, but they might find some consolation in Jesus’ counsel about how “no prophet is accepted in his own country.”
.Siegel ([email protected]) is an editor at The City and a columnist for the Daily News.
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