Mayoral aspirant doesn't get the picture

Is America a great place or what? In barely half a century, we've gone from a segregated society to one where a black woman can ruin her shot at becoming New York City's mayor by offending other minorities.

Is America a great place or what? In barely half a century, we've gone from a segregated society to one where a black woman can ruin her shot at becoming New York City's mayor by offending other minorities.

Manhattan borough president C. Virginia Fields, admittedly never quite the Democratic frontrunner to unseat Mayor Michael Bloomberg, first flirted with race-related disaster two weeks ago. Her campaign had circulated a flier showing her surrounded by "supporters" of various ethnicities. Except it turns out that two mysterious Asian-Americans had apparently been Photoshopped in to provide a little color. Whoops.

Fields' campaign went into crisis mode, firing consultant Joseph Mercurio for the offense. Mercurio immediately went to the press, claiming Fields had approved the photo herself. Thus began a downward spiral.

On Friday, July 8, Fields proceeded to offend a whole other swath of New Yorkers, this time with no one else to pin it on.

In recalling the story of her arrest during a 1963 civil rights protest, Fields told a reporter, "We fell on our knees and we were put in a paddy wagon."

Maybe she didn't know this, but "paddy wagon" is a slang term left over from the days when Irish-Americans dominated New York's police department. And apparently, getting arrested for the civil rights movement is no longer enough to prevent some people from calling you a bigot.

By Monday, Fields' campaign was being eulogized by nearly every political reporter in New York. But hey, what do you expect from a bunch of drunken white folk?

  • Douglas Quenqua writes PR Play of the Week. He is PRWeek's news editor.

    Ratings:

    1. Clueless

    2. Ill-advised

    3. On the right track

    4. Savvy

    5. Ingenious

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