Mayor threatens to pull advertising unless paper is ‘nicer to me’
FLORIDA–Responding to what he considered negative press coverage, the mayor of Miami in early January threatened to pull legal advertising from The Miami Herald.
In a message left on the newspaper’s voice-mail system, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez threatened to withdraw $200,000 in municipal advertisements if the paper is not “nicer to me, my people, my citizens and my city.”
Suarez left the message in early January in the voice-mailbox of the Herald advertising manager whose office processes the city’s legal advertisements.
“This is the mayor of Miami,” Suarez said in his 70-second message. “I note that we are subsidizing you and your newspaper with ads related to official notices of the city.”
The city of Miami posts legal notices for meetings, contract proposals and employment in the newspaper, according to an article in The Herald.
“If that’s the case, I strongly suggest you tell your maximum leader of the free world for the publishing company and I believe that’s Joe Natoli that he better tell his maximum leader of the publishing side of the newspaper, that is to say David Lawrence, to be a lot nicer to me, my people, my citizens and my city,” he said.
“Because otherwise we’re going to figure out every possible way of advertising in any possible newspaper except yours,” the mayor said.
The mayor placed the call after The Herald published stories investigating allegations of voter fraud by Suarez campaign supporters.
Suarez told Time magazine the call was “mostly in jest.”
But Herald Publisher David Lawrence said as the paper continues its investigation into voter fraud, Suarez tries to restrict its freedom.
“The mayor this morning was on Spanish-language radio suggesting to people that if a Herald reporter came to the door they should call the police,” Lawrence said January 16. “The craziness continues.”
Although no advertisements have been pulled, Lawrence said The Herald will do everything it must to protect its rights.
A Miami commissioner told the newspaper that the mayor does not have the authority to remove legal advertisements; it is the job of the city manager or commission.
“The mayor needs to understand that even if you get bad press, you do not retaliate against the press,” Miami Commissioner Tomas Regalado told The Herald. “What he is saying goes against the very fiber of our democracy – the same democracy that elected him.”
Suarez could not be reached for comment.