During a discussion of Republican presidential candidates on the April 4 edition of MSNBC News Live, NBC political correspondent Jay Dedapper repeated a common media label for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani: "America's mayor." Dedapper asserted of Giuliani, "His -- his challenge here is to really convince voters that he's more than the mayor of America after 9-11, and that's basically what he talked about -- what he did as mayor before 9-11." Also, on the April 3 edition of National Public Radio's All Things Considered, NPR national political corresponsdent Mara Liasson said of Giuliani: "He's been the recent frontrunner in the polls, but his lead in the polls has been slipping, maybe because he's been getting more scrutiny and Republican primary voters are beginning to learn more about him, other than the fact that he was the hero mayor of 9-11."
As Media Matters for America has documented, the media have repeatedly touted Giuliani as "America's mayor," asserting as fact that he behaved heroically on 9-11 and its aftermath. But his status as the "hero of 9-11" is by no means undisputed. For instance, Village Voice senior editor Wayne Barrett and CBSNews.com senior producer Dan Collins, in their book Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 (HarperCollins, 2006), argued that Giuliani mishandled the clean-up at Ground Zero, exacerbating the risk to workers' lives and health; that he failed to set up a unified command post for the New York Fire and Police departments, contributing to a lack of communication between police officers and firefighters on 9-11; and that his history with former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik was part of a pattern of security-related cronyism in Giuliani's administration, as Media Matters also noted.
Additionally, on March 9, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) issued a letter citing Giuliani's "egregious treatment of our 343 fallen [firefighters] on 9/11, their families and our members, following that horrific day." The letter also took issue with Giuliani's "scoop and dump" policy, saying: "Mayor Giuliani's actions meant that fire fighters and citizens who perished would either remain buried at Ground Zero forever, with no closure for families, or be removed like garbage and deposited at the Fresh Kills Landfill." The letter later added: "What Giuliani showed is a disgraceful lack of respect for the fallen and those brothers still searching for them. He exposed our members and leaders to arrest."
From the 9 a.m. ET hour of the April 4 edition of MSNBC News Live:
DEDAPPER: Well, it's interesting. There's a new poll out from the University of Iowa today, and the top three contenders are essentially all tied: Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Rudy Giuliani. But number one in the poll? Undecided.
Republicans are still window shopping. Romney is opening his campaign office today and he'll get a lot of attention because of the money -- has really made him a force here again. John McCain, of course, came through here and did so with his Straight Talk Express last week.
Rudy Giuliani on the other hand -- this was his first trip yesterday and he went through a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids, where frankly there weren't many voters out. It was almost this cold and it was mainly Democratic neighborhood. He did meet some more voters in West Des Moines. His - his challenge here is to really convince voters that he's more than the "Mayor of America after 9-11," and that's basically what he talked about -- what he did as mayor before 9-11. That is what he's trying to get across.
Again, though, this polling is really interesting. The number one choice of likely Republican caucus-goers: undecided. They just don't like the field, the choices that they have right now.
AMY ROBACH (host): Enter Fred Thompson.
From the April 3 broadcast of NPR's All Things Considered:
LIASSON: There isn't a frontrunner. It was John McCain at one point, but now he's stuck at 20 to 25 percent in the polls. He's no longer the frontrunner, he's no longer the insurgent either, and he just had a very disappointing fundraising quarter, where he came in third, with just $12 million.
Now, his campaign says they're taking steps to correct the fundraising problems, but it just adds to the list of troubles that McCain is having this year. Then there's Rudy Giuliani. He's been the recent frontrunner in the polls, but his lead in the polls has been slipping, maybe because he's been getting more scrutiny and Republican primary voters are beginning to learn more about him, other than the fact that he was the hero mayor of 9-11. Although Giuliani recently raised $15 million, which is very impressive for a candidate who's been in the race for such a short period of time.