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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

In Nassau, flogging the messenger has a long history 

When Republican or Democratic politicians in Nassau County don't like the news, they've been known to attack the messenger.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announces a result

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announces a result of investigation on senior tax abatement for enhanced star recipients, at at Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building on Feb. 7, 2019. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

Administrations may change, but the rhetoric stays the same. When Republican or Democratic politicians don’t like the news, they attack the messenger.

Nassau’s three town tax receivers told Newsday last week that senior abatements appeared to be missing from tax data they'd received from the county. Afterward, County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat, said they were wrong and posted on her county Facebook page: “This was inaccurate and irresponsible news reporting.”

Her assessor, David Moog, described the story as “fake news” on an assessment-related website.

Compare Curran’s complaints to those made by her predecessor, Republican Ed Mangano, when he was unhappy with a Newsday story.

“Newsday ran a distorted story,” Mangano posted on his county webpage in January 2012. He complained that Newsday allowed his critics to say he achieved less in government savings than Mangano said he had saved, but without any proof.

“Since when is that fair reporting?” Mangano said. “Maybe Newsday will get it right one of these days.”

Michael Dawidziak, a political consultant who primarily works for Republicans, said Monday that the news media are an easy target, often accused of being biased and untrustworthy.

“Even though Trump has made it into an advanced science, it is not unique for Republicans or Democrats. If you’re being shown in an unfavorable light, the easiest thing to do is discredit the messenger,” Dawidziak said.

Politicians also attack their critics.

Curran said at a news conference last week that one of the tax receivers — a Democrat — didn’t understand accounting and said all of them were incorrect. “It’s easy for those sitting on the sidelines who have no real responsibility for this function to throw stones,” she said.

Mangano said much the same thing about Curran in August 2016 after she had called him “purposely deceptive” for saying he had nearly eliminated residential tax assessment refunds.

Then-Mangano spokesman Brian Nevin responded, “Laura Curran couldn’t understand the assessment system if it smacked her in the face.”

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