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In more fallout from “film gate”–the NYPD’s decision to show a controversial anti-Islam film to cops at an anti-terror training center–Mayor Bloomberg says it showed “terrible judgment,” and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly admitted he gave an interview to the filmmakers, and called it a mistake.
The reaction from Bloomberg and Kelly make this controversy more of a lesson about their media relations policies than about the film, “The Third Jihad,” itself. That’s because the NYPD’s statements in particular have been contradictory to say the least, and the focus is falling on top Kelly spokesman and advisor Paul Browne. (Browne has not responded to Voice emails on this.)
Kelly’s admission was a direct contradiction to claims his spokesman previously made, that he never cooperated with the producers of “The Third Jihad,” which was shown to about 1,500 police officers.
Previously, through spokesman Browne, Kelly had said a clip of an interview with him in the film was lifted from another source. Kelly had to make the admission when the New York Times obtained a record of a 90-minute interview he did for the film in March, 2007.
(By the way, who gets 90 minutes with the Police Commissioner? That’s like a year in media time.)
Browne acknowledged that he had recommended that Kelly sit for the interview, after declaring up and down that Kelly didn’t cooperate with them.
Regarding the number of officers who saw the film, meanwhile, Browne moved to a third fallback position, after two previous statements on the matter were shown to be inaccurate. First, Browne told this reporter that no police officers had seen the film.
Then, he told the Voice’s Tom Robbins that a few officers were shown the movie. Now that the much larger number of officers has been revealed, Browne says the film “was never authorized by the NYPD.”
Mayor Bloomberg also said “we’ll find out” who made the decision to show the film, the Times says, as if it’s a big mystery inside the NYPD. Woe betide those poor souls soon to be blamed for errors of the leadership at the top.
Apparently, there’s a sergeant who is on the hot seat, but some NYPD observers are wondering why Assistant Chief George Anderson was moved from the Police Academy last year without explanation.
Could it have been about the film? Anderson, then the commander of the Police Academy, wrote the March 23, 2011 memo which detailed the number of officers who saw the film.
The timing of that memo raises another question about the NYPD disclosures. Specifically, even though spokesman Browne knew the true number of officers six weeks after the first Voice article ran, and knew that what he had initially told the public was totally wrong, he/the department held the truth back until nearly a year later.
Moreover, in the memo, Anderson writes that the inquiry began on Jan. 21, two days after the Voice piece ran. So, police officials must have known even sooner the extent of the airing of the movie.
We’re not saying that Browne actually lied. He could have been given bad info by his people. But the website, Gawker, is in a piece titled “NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne is a lying liar.”
“To tell two different reporters, a year apart, that Kelly was never interviewed for a film he appeared in, and that Browne himself recommended Kelly be interviewed for, is almost pathological,” the Gawker piece said. “He is paid by New York’s taxpayers, and should be fired.”