“I was tired of our commissioner getting misrepresented, and I was tired of other people having their day in the papers,” Mr. Wolfson said. “So I said, ‘We are fighting back.’ This is going to be an ongoing struggle, but if you look at the polling, this issue is absolutely headed our way.”
Then, Mr. Wolfson took to Twitter to answer criticisms directly and to engage with like-minded supporters. It is a technique that has now infused the entire press office at City Hall, which has taken to the social media platform to rebut stories it disagrees with, often retweeting a negative headline with the simple words, “Not True.”
His influence around City Hall has been felt in other ways as well, administration officials say. Mr. Wolfson has been one of the driving forces behind the mayor’s so-called “Freedom Agenda,” in which Mr. Bloomberg lines up solidly behind the Ground Zero Mosque, the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei and even the free speech rights of the kids in Zuccotti, and he has had a heavy hand in some of the mayor’s more elevated rhetoric in the service of that agenda. He guided the mayor on his political endorsements last year, in which Mr. Bloomberg spread his money and his support to a handful of socially liberal fiscal conservatives in both parties.
When Mr. Wolfson took the job inside City Hall, the widespread assumption among political observers was that it meant something big was in the offing for the future of Mike Bloomberg—if not a presidential run then something equally as big. Why else, after all, would a political superstar come here?
Because he wanted to, Mr. Wolfson said. “I was coming here to do the job of deputy mayor for government affairs and communications. I was not aware that we were launching the Apollo Project.”
Still, politicos, especially those lining up in opposition to Mr. Bloomberg, wonder if Mr. Wolfson won’t jump ship for some kind of national-level job in advance of the 2012 elections. The press, they say, is already cowed by him (“There is this mythology that surrounds him,” said one rival flack. “He has to defend some pretty indefensible positions, and the press takes him at his word.”) The third term, they say, is a lost cause. How much longer can Mr. Wolfson want to be spend time holding the bag?
His job now, he says, is to get the mayor simply to build the platform so that his words get amplified, no easy task after a decade in the mayoralty. The mayor has been in many respects far less visible than he was during his first two terms, cutting down on the number of daily press conferences, and preferring instead major speeches in hand-picked venues on themes of national import.
“Like the president, the mayor, I don’t believe, should be overexposed. I think you have to pick your spots,” he said, adding, “You don’t really tell Mike Bloomberg what to say. But you can, in my position, attempt to advise him on the best venue, the best way to say what he wants to say … You make a decision to clear Zuccotti Park. How do you explain that to the people of the city?”
That job, of course, fell almost as much to Mr. Wolfson as it did to Mr. Bloomberg. The day after the press scrum in City Hall, he did the local Fox affiliate and then headed down to CNN. There the host asked about reports that members of the media were targeted during the raid on Zuccotti.
Mr. Wolfson went back to slamming the critics of the mayor for the hyperbolic statements they made in response to the raid.
Back at City Hall, he disputed the notion that the action had made the municipal problem of Occupy Wall Street worse.
“I don’t think it’s intractable. We should go to Zuccotti Park,” he said, confident the sight of the cleared plaza would prove his point.