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Tipsheet

Leaked Audio: Eric Adams Says He Will Fire Anyone Who Leaks Unapproved Messaging to the Media

AP Photo/Brittainy Newman

New York City mayor Eric Adams warned of a press corps seeking "gotcha" moments and said anyone caught providing communications to the press without authorization of City Hall will be terminated, leaked audio reveals.

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Addressing around 50 officials from city agencies on a Zoom call Thursday, Adams announced a new "discipline of message" policy to combat an "aggressive" media. 

"We're dealing with a very aggressive press corps where there's an 'I gotcha' moment instead of 'I got you' and we need to be on top of that," he said, according to audio obtained by Politico.

Adams has previously criticized the media covering his administration for lacking the diversity he believed was necessary to cover a black mayor.

During Thursday's Zoom, Adams noted that messaging that was not supposed to be released had been leaked, and he planned to impose strict disciplinary measures in an effort to prevent additional leaks, going as far as to rid his administration of anyone who attempted to undermine it.

"The first few months we've noticed that press advisories have gone out or press releases have gone out and number one, we knew nothing about it or it was something that we were still contemplating here — and that's just not how I operate," Adams said.

He continued, "I'm a big believer in discipline, discipline of message and discipline of action ... I do not accept people sabotaging this administration. If people want to be hurtful or harmful to this administration, this is not the place you want to serve. And if I ever find out that happens, someone intentionally does something that is inappropriate, you will not work for me as the mayor."

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While it remains unclear what communications Adams was referring to in announcing his new policy, the mayor and administration officials have contradicted one another on a number of key subject areas. 

Adams said last month he wanted parents to decide whether to mask their 2-4-year-olds in schools while the mayor's new health commissioner, Ashwin Vasan, supported keeping the mandate in place. The mayor also said last month that he supported outdoor heaters after he was asked about a Fire Department official testifying at a City Hall hearing against the use of outdoor heaters.

Also last month, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and intelligence alleged that the department never inappropriately spied on Muslims following the 9/11 attacks but Adams disputed that claim. 

"What we did was wrong," Adams said at the time in response to the commissioner's claim. "We did some things that were wrong, and they will never happen under my administration."

Adams' new "city agency press release tracker" will require communication officials from dozens of departments to submit press releases, press conference plans or other public statements for City Hall to approve.

Seven staffers on the Zoom call told Politico that it is typical for a mayor to try to control messaging. But four officials who have worked for multiple mayors told the outlet that Adams' new policy to control communications goes beyond that of prior administrations.

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"What is imperative to know [is] that you are assigned to an agency under a commissioner but you work for me," Adams said during Thursday's call.

"The commissioner leads an agency, but I lead the city," he continued. "I'm the mayor of the city and all communications that come through this city government is coming through my message."

The mayor explained that communications as basic as announcing a tree-planting volunteer event must still be vetted.

Adams said his staffers could come see him at any time to discuss concerns and that he was trying to create a "safe space to work in so we can be as productive as possible." He assured staffers that he would review submitted communications every morning and would not delay their work.

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