There was an alarming spate of shootings over the weekend and one New York City tabloid quickly does what it does best:  pointing its finger – and I'm not saying which one – straight in Mayor de Blasio's direction.

The New York Post rang its alarm bell yesterday with this crime story that quickly veered into the paper's political playbook: "Brooklyn residents said Sunday that they fear the return of the bad old days of 'Crooklyn' — and placed the blame squarely on Mayor Bill de Blasio — after a bloody weekend in which at least 19 people were shot in the borough."

As a former reporter for the paper where I proudly worked for nine years, it's not hard to smell a rat somewhere high up in the Post's production line. This story could have been written before any reporter was sent out to find the quotes that would damn City Hall back to Dinkinsville.

While everyone should be concerned and worried over a weekend of violence, it's also important to actually look at some numbers provided by City Hall. As of yesterday, there were  five fewer shooting incidents in the city than in 2014 and there have been seven more additional shooting victims than last year. More alarmingly, homicides are up by ten percent but the numbers are still lower than they were for almost any year in the Bloomberg administration.

But perception and reality have been divided by a blurry line for the tabloid's City Hall coverage for some time now – dating back to the paper's slanted coverage of the mayoral race in 2013.

And witness the newspaper's recent obsession with a homeless man who has been wandering the streets and urinating in public for more than a decade – dating far back into Michael Bloomberg's administration.

None of this would matter if the paper was on its angry little island – but a screaming front-page headline in the Post still has influence on some radio and TV stations. And it still pressures City Hall to jump – from releasing crime statistics yesterday to having the mayor quietly visit Tompkins Square Park after the Post made it sound like it's reverted back to the bad old anarchic days of the 1980's.

Clearly, the de Blasio administration has plenty of work to do and some of the work it has already done has been far from perfect. But as journalists, it's also important to try to focus on things fairly and objectively without putting your finger on the scale. In the Post's case, it's more than a finger. It's a massive agenda.


Bob Hardt