Brooke interviews Ellis Henican about why coverage of the New York mayoral race and has been so sparse in the city of Rudy Guiliani.
The Race to Replace Rudy G.
October 27, 2001
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And joining us now is Newsday columnist and general man about New York City Ellis Hennekin [sp?]. Welcome back to the show.
ELLIS HENNEKIN: Oh, thanks, Brooke. Good to be here.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: So how about the mayoral race in New York? Is it getting the accustomed amount of coverage or something less than that?
ELLIS HENNEKIN: We're having a mayor's race in New York?
[LAUGHTER] It, it has-- been vastly undercovered compared to a typical run for mayor of New York. You know these kind of stories tend to dominate the papers in this town for, for weeks and months at a time.
Here we, you know, we had some stories in the paper. I don't want to say we ignored it, but nowhere near a normal year for local political coverage.
BROOKE GLADSTONE:And you know it's surprising because this wasn't even a normal mayoral race. We had a runoff which is extremely unusual. We have the soon to be displaced new mayor to the world New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani finally moving off the plate. All of these things should probably be big news!
ELLIS HENNEKIN: No! We, we had all the elements, right. You know there was drama; there was a question of, of New York after Giuliani. In another year we could have milked this thing to death. This year we just never really got around to it.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: And the reason is obvious, right? September 11th.
ELLIS HENNEKIN:Well, you should have sat in the 3:30 news meeting at Newsday on any one of dozens of days, you know. But, but-- I mean it wasn't only us! The candidates themselves shut down for, for weeks at a time! You know they were very, very uncomfortable - all the campaigns -right after September 11th.
You know we were 3 or 4 hours into the voting on the initial primary vote when this attack occurred, and so the campaigns were all extremely nervous about starting again! They didn't want to be accused of being the, the grubby politico at a, at a time of such difficulty in the city.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Is November 6th going to be the election day that hardly was?
ELLIS HENNEKIN:Well, to me one of the cheery things about the past couple of weeks is that the candidates really started beating up on each other again like New York politicians are supposed to! I know there were people around town who were saying oh, this is so terrible and we should be elevated beyond that in this new era.
Give me a break! To me that was the equivalent of, of going out on the town again - spending money - New York coming alive. If these guys aren't swinging baseball bats at each other's heads, there's something wrong with us!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Have there been other stories pushed off the front pages at Newsday?
ELLIS HENNEKIN:I'll tell you what the tendency is. It's been true as I've written columns in the past month and it's been true as we've laid out the front page. It's not that we don't do those other stories. But any time I write about a subject that isn't exactly a terror story, somehow or another my tendency is to connect it into the thing that all New Yorkers are talking about which is that overriding sense of insecurity that we now feel in this town.
So even if I'm writing a yankee column, somewhere in there is going to be a line that says [LAUGHS] something about [LAUGHS] now more than ever the symbolism of the yankees at a time like this -- whatever it is -- go out to eat - go see a play [LAUGHS] - hop into the sack with the one you love - now more than ever. [LAUGHS]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: [LAUGHS] Ellis, thank you very much.
ELLIS HENNEKIN: Thanks, Brooke. That was fun.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ellis Hennekin writes a column for Newsday. [MUSIC]