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Levy has risen in influence as his colleagues in the City Hall press shop have departed, and the deputy mayor runs interference for the mayor in his dealings with the press.
- Director of Communications, then-New York Congressmember Kathy Hochul
- Director of Communications, California State Treasurer’s Office
- Press Secretary and Senior Adviser, the New York Attorney General Letitia James
- City Hall Press Secretary
- Deputy Mayor for Communications
At 40 years old, Fabien Levy was promoted from spokesperson to deputy mayor for communications, with an annual salary of $251,900. What kind of top-notch communicating are taxpayers getting for their money?
Well, there’s the time in November that Eric Adams mysteriously blew off his scheduled meetings with White House officials (where he planned to plead the City’s case on migrant funding) and rushed back to the city, and then news broke of an FBI raid on the home of his chief campaign fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, and everyone wanted to know just what on earth was going on. Levy’s press shop rose to the occasion, telling anyone who inquired that—and this is a direct quote—”the mayor returned to New York City to address a matter.”
The next day, Levy communicated that the mayor was canceling the press conference that would have been reporters’ first chance to ask him about the aforementioned FBI raid, explaining that the mayor couldn’t talk to reporters because the Mayor’s Office is closed on Election Day, which was weird because the previous Election Day…the mayor spoke with reporters.
Or there’s the time Hell Gate challenged Levy to point to any evidence at all underlying the mayor’s repeated claim that New York City children are being sold marijuana laced with fentanyl. If this was a real thing (a medical expert assured us it is not) affecting New Yorkers, we wanted to know more. What specific incidents was the mayor talking about? Levy dug deep, and came back to us with two hyperlinks: one to a South Carolina local news report reblogging a Facebook post, and the other to a single-sourced local news story from Merced, California, repeating police claims based on an unreliable field test.
There was also the time in September when a severe storm washed out city streets and flooded basements, and the mayor did not appear until five hours after the rain started to tell New Yorkers they should “be prepared for this moment.” Adams’s disaster response got failing grades from his haters, but Levy punched back, noting that the Mayor’s Press Office had forwarded a press release from NYC Emergency Management at 11:08 the night before.
Levy’s passion for the life of a political comms soldier began early. He’s communicated on behalf of government officials and candidates for 20 years, flacking for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Sen. Barbara Boxer, then-Congressmember Kathy Hochul, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (in 2008 and 2016, both), and New York Attorney Letitia James, among others.
Charged with developing a communications strategy for Adams, Levy’s main approach has, perhaps even more than an average flack, centered on minimizing his boss’s exposure to people who might ask him hard questions. Under Levy, reporters can only pick the topic of their questions to the mayor for one hour, once per week. And City Hall has spun up its own in-house state media operation, with a weekly email newsletter and a podcast—excuse me: a “Get Stuff Done-Cast“—spearheaded by Levy’s former boss, Maxwell Young. Adams has also broken with the previous administration’s tradition of regular mayoral sit-downs with capable, probing journalists like Brian Lehrer and Errol Louis, instead favoring interviewers who ask hard-hitting questions like “What would you like someone to give you for Christmas?,” “We have nothing but love and respect for you,” and “We’re going to support you for eight years as mayor.”
Levy did not respond to a request for comment for this entry.
Taxpayers—just to repeat this one more time—are paying Levy $251,900 a year.
Last updated: 12/18/2023
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