Retiring Congressman Gary Ackerman made headlines across the country when, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he described the public as getting dumber. As he was campaigning for Assemblywoman Grace Meng’s bid to replace him in Congress, we caught up with Mr. Ackerman to ask him what he made of the media hyping his “dumber” comment. Needless to say, he promptly dismissed the coverage of a “sound bite.”
“The contextual part of that in the interview is that basically people believe anything that they see or hear, no matter how wacky it is,” he explained. “These are intelligent people that I’m speaking of, if you can get my gist. The ability to convince people of the wackiest notions — and both parties can do it — it’s part of the dumbing down of America that’s really highly problematic.”
“And part of it, a major contribution to that happenstance, is the media,” he continued, addressing The Politicker and WNYC’s Colby Hamilton. “The media’s gotten lazy. They don’t check anything out. You report what he reports.”
Robert Mittman, an allergist and long-shot candidate for Tuesday’s Democratic primary in New York’s 6th Congressional District in Queens, doesn’t seem to mind using very misleading advertising that implies the retiring incumbent, Congressman Gary Ackerman, has endorsed him when he has actually backed a rival candidate.
“Bob’s dedication to his profession and to his community is emblematic of the commitment and energy he has exhibited during the many years I have had the pleasure to know him,” the ad declares next to a large image of Mr. Ackerman. “Bob answered the summons of a call for help and responded with the professionalism that should be the standard. For this, I pay tribute to him.”
The measure brought howls of protest from conservatives and from Long Island Rep. Peter King, and it ultimately went down to defeat.
This morning, Liz Crowley, a City Councilwoman from Queens who is running for the Congressional seat formerly held by Gary Ackerman sent out a statement saying that she opposed her would-be Democratic colleagues’ efforts.
“Withholding federal funding from our police department because our cops have done their jobs is wrong,” Ms. Crowley said. “The NYPD has acted lawfully to protect New Yorkers from very real terrorist threats. Voting for this measure frustrates the NYPD’s efforts to keep us safe. We need to work on expanding funding for the NYPD in a dangerous world, not cutting it off.” Continue reading “Crowley Rebukes House Dems On NYPD Surveillance Vote”→
“Gary Ackerman started the Tribune, has been my business partner since the late 70s and a close friend for 50 years, since 1962 – he was much older then; he’s much older now,” Michael Schenkler wrote. “As a result of our relationship, I am able to share with you the truth about the season’s biggest political surprise; Gary’s retirement.”
The real reason for Mr. Ackerman’s bizarrely sudden retirement, according to Mr. Schenkler, was that he was about to take a management position at his beloved New York Mets.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley is planning to run for a seat in the House of Representatives. Ms. Crowley, who informed The Politicker of her plans at the McManus Democratic Association’s annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast Saturday, joins an already crowded field that emerged once veteran Congressman Gary Ackerman abruptly announced his decision not to run for the seat. Congressman Joe Crowley, chairman of the Queens Democratic Party, is Ms. Crowley’s cousin, but he’s backing one of her rivals in the race, Assemblywoman Grace Meng.
According to multiplereports, as well as The Politicker‘s own sources, Assemblywoman Grace Meng has received the support of Queens Democratic Chairman Joe Crowley in her bid for the new 6th Congressional District this evening. Establishment backing is a big boost in low-turnout primaries where little else is on the ballot. Congressman Gary Ackerman was initially expected to run for the seat but suddenly exited the race last week, creating a vacancy for aspiring politicians in eastern Queens.
This afternoon, President Barack Obama issued a statement to commemorate Congressman Gary Ackerman’s many terms in office. Mr. Ackerman, of course, gave a surprise announcement yesterday evening that he was not going to seek reelection for another term in Washington D.C.
“For over thirty years, Gary Ackerman has represented the people of Queens and Long Island, first as a New York State Senator, and then as a Member of Congress,” Mr. Obama said in his statement. “Gary’s bipartisan efforts helped our nation confront significant challenges at home and abroad.”