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Presidential campaign announcements tend to be highly orchestrated PR events that loop in numerous journalists across multiple media outlets to maximize shock value.
Bill de Blasio’s got scooped by a teenager.
For weeks, political reporters have been circling the New York mayor’s long, although perhaps not eagerly, anticipated campaign, and press reports hinted that his decision was approaching. On Tuesday, an aide circulated a schedule for de Blasio’s weekend trip to Iowa and South Carolina under embargo, meaning that it couldn’t be published, until Thursday. There was still no reportable information about the mayor’s choice.
Enter: Gabe Fleisher, a high school student outside of St. Louis. He writes a morning newsletter, Wake Up to Politics, from his bedroom. Fleischer caught wind of de Blasio’s announcement from a now-deleted Facebook event — one that also happened to misspell the guest of guest of honor’s name as “Bill di Blasio.”
After Fleisher tweeted out the information, the wheels of the grownup political press corps began turning.
“I was pretty excited, and it's been wild to watch the reaction on Twitter!” Fleisher told VICE News via direct message. “Definitely beats taking the AP English test, which is how I spent my morning!”
Fleisher said he obsessively trawls a website that posts press releases from candidates and state parties. After school Wednesday, he noticed a link to a Woodbury County Democratic Party event Friday in Sioux City, Iowa, which was billed on Facebook as de Blasio’s "first stop on his Presidential announcement tour.”
NBC News confirmed de Blasio’s pending announcement through a campaign aide 15 minutes after Fleisher’s scoop. Everyone else was left playing catchup as the New York mayor prepped for his official rollout Thursday morning.
Cover image: Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 5/16/19 Mayor Bill de Blasio enters 2020 Presidential Race. STAR MAX File Photo: 4/10/17 New York Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference in Staten Island, New York.