Ken Frydman, a former aide to Rudy Giuliani, is one of my favorite public relations men in New York and has always been a total mensch in my dealings with him. But a passage in his recent New York Times opinion piece made me chuckle:
Rudy was a pizza and Diet Coke guy when I met him in 1992. But he became an Upper East Side and Hamptons socialite and, worse yet, a Palm Beach neighbor of Donald Trump.
From the New York Times obituary in 2012 of one of its greatest publishers, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger: "Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who guided The New York Times and its parent company through a long, sometimes turbulent period of expansion and change on a scale not seen since the newspaper's founding in 1851, died early Saturday at his home in Southampton, N.Y....He generally kept his hands off the editorial page, too. Except perhaps for the most hotly disputed issues and political endorsements, he often did not learn of the page's opinions until the paper was delivered to his Manhattan home, an apartment on Fifth Avenue."
Sulzberger's Fifth Avenue apartment was on the Upper East Side, and his Southampton home was in the Hamptons. As for Sulzberger's daughter Cathy, again, take it from the New York Times's own report of her wedding: "Cynthia Fox Sulzberger, a daughter of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger of New York and the late Carol Fox Sulzberger, was married last evening ...at the Ark Project, a cultural center in Water Mill, N.Y. The bride, 37, will continue to use her name professionally. She is a learning specialist at the Hampton Day School in Bridgehampton, N.Y." Water Mill and Bridgehampton are in the Hamptons, too.
Or take this report from the Palm Beach Daily News: "Cynthia Sulzberger spent three years living in Palm Beach before moving to Wellington to be close to her five horses, but the Manhattan native still has strong ties to the island. Her daughter attends Palm Beach Day Academy, and her work as a trustee at the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens keeps her close by."
Asked by the newspaper, "What do you love about Palm Beach," Cynthia Sulzberger replied, "It's so beautiful...We always say when we get too old to ride, we'll come back to Palm Beach."
Got that? The Hamptons and Palm Beach are okay for Sulzbergers, but not for a Giuliani? Perhaps news hasn't reached the Times editors, but people in the Hamptons and Palm Beach drink Diet Coke and eat pizza, too. Would the Times be happier if Rudy were spending his weekends in New Paltz or Boca Raton or Hyannis Port or Chappaquiddick? In Martha's Vineyard, like John Kerry or Barack Obama or Bill Clinton? Are we to understand that it is okay to travel in those circles with money from your family's newspaper, but not from money earned from speaking, legal work, or book-writing after a career in public service?
The Kennedys had a long family association with Palm Beach that never seemed much to bother the New York Times. With Rudy, though, it's a problem for the Times.
The whole thing strikes me as another data point that so much of the objection to President Trump and his crowd isn't so much policy-based or substantive but more a matter of taste and aesthetics. There's nothing wrong with disliking Palm Beach or the Hamptons, I suppose, but it seems a strange line of attack for the New York Times to bring against Giuliani.