Antisocial Media

Before He Was Mayor, Michael Bloomberg Actually Liked Social Media

"It's very elitist to say that only some people should have information."
screen shot 2012 08 07 at 12 55 49 pm Before He Was Mayor, Michael Bloomberg Actually Liked Social Media

(Photo: YouTube)

On Mayor Bloomberg’s weekly radio address last month, he asked his cohost a pointed question, “How do you govern when there’s an instant referendum on everything, before you get a chance to build a constituency, before you get a chance to do a pilot?” It’s a refrain we’ve heard from El Bloombito before. In March, he made similar remarks, telling a crowd in Singapore, “Social media is going to make it even more difficult to make long-term investments,” in cities.

It’s a remarkably abrasive attitude from a mayor who has made sprucing up the city’s social media presence a priority during his last term, not to mention his gleeful bid to become Silicon Alley’s primary benefactor. As it turns out, however, the Mayor wasn’t always so disdainful about the wisdom of the crowd or the democratizing wave of the information age. 

Capital New York‘s Azi Paybarah dug up an interview from Mr. Bloomberg gave in 1998, before he became a politician. At the time, his interlocutor, Canadian researcher and pundit Allan Gregg, asked the mogul whether increased access to information in the changing landscape of financial media was to blame for financial volatility:

His high-minded response?

“There are clearly people who think that that it’s bad, and they blame all of this information, whether it’s the press or the web sites or whatever. I find that a little bit offensive because what they’re saying is ‘Well, the people who had the information before, it’s OK for them to have it but I don’t want everybody else to have it. Either you believe in democracy, in egalitarianism or you don’t. In an egalitarian world everybody has the information, that’s great. And if they choose to buy and sell who are you to criticize? Who made you– it’s very elitist to say that only some people should have information.”

It’s like you get one parody Twitter account and suddenly–poof–all those fine democratic principles fly out the window and get buried under the snow.

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