Eric Adams

Eric Adams objects to scrutiny from the ‘word police’

They’ve kept an eye on everything the mayor has said during his two years in office.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has complained about the way some of his phrasing has been criticized.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has complained about the way some of his phrasing has been criticized. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

During his more than two years in office, New York City Mayor Eric Adams has had a few run-ins with the “word police.” Early on in his tenure, he told The New York Times of his speaking style, “I would rather be authentic and make errors than be robotic and not be sincere.” Here are some of the major instances when he has mentioned the word police being out to get him.

Rift with AOC

Jan. 6, 2022

Adams held a press conference on Jan. 4, 2022, and talked about the city’s pandemic economic recovery by saying service workers were “low skilled.” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded, in part, on Twitter, “The suggestion that any job is ‘low skill’ is a myth perpetuated by wealthy interests to justify inhumane working conditions, little/no healthcare, and low wages.” He said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” “Right now, we’re in a society where we have the words police. Everyone wants to take every term you use and try to make it seem that you want to be offensive.”

Budget Q&A

April 26, 2023

After announcing his fiscal year 2024 budget, Adams answered a question about asylum-seeker funding. “The issue is not the asylum-seekers, the issue is the fact that the national government is not doing its job. And so, if people want to play word police and don’t know my heart by now and what I have done better than any other municipality, then let them do that. But I don’t see any of them in Washington.”


December 19, 2023

PIX11 anchor Dan Mannarino asked Adams a softball question to start his Dec. 17, 2023, interview: sum up his year in one word. And he responded in a bizarre fashion, “New York. This is a place where every day you wake up you could experience everything from a plane crashing into our Trade Center to a person who’s celebrating a new business that’s open. This is a very, very complicated city, and that’s why it’s the greatest city on the globe.” Asked a couple days later if he regretted that comparison to 9/11, Adams said, “No. No, no. And you know, the sentence police that sit in front of the TV and say, ‘let’s wait to see Eric make one sentence that we can turn into a front page.’ Listen, you’re going to find many of them, because I’m authentic and I’m going to talk the way New Yorkers talk.”

NAN convention

April 10, 2024

In discussing his own record on combating police abuses, Adams said at the National Action Network Convention ribbon-cutting, “You can be the word police and say, ‘He should have said it this way or that way.’ Don’t try to give me all that madness. I know where my heart is. And my heart didn’t come here today. My heart was here 33 years ago.”

Outside agitators

May 1, 2024

Adams and NYPD brass had claimed that pro-Palestinian protests at Columbia University were being led by “outside agitators,” and not students. In an impassioned press conference, the mayor shot back at critics, “I know that there are those who are attempting to say, ‘Well, the majority of people may have been students.’ You don’t have to be the majority to influence and co-opt an operation. That is what this is about. If we want to play the word police, you could do so. I’m going to play the New York City police, where we are going to protect our city from those who are attempting to do what is happening globally.”

Hochul’s gaffe

May 7, 2024

On May 6, Gov. Kathy Hochul made a comment as part of a longer monologue that “we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word computer is.” At his off-topic press conference the next day, the mayor defended Hochul’s intentions. “Listen, I am not the word police. I know the governor’s heart. When you make thousands of speeches, when you’re in front of the cameras all the time, when you’re trying to be authentic and say the things that you’re really feeling, one can sit back and do a critical analysis of every sentence you say and say, ‘Oh, you didn’t say this way, that way.’”

Migrant swimmers

May 15, 2024

The mayor got into hot water after rhetorically asking on May 14, “How do we have a large body of people that are in our city and country that are excellent swimmers, and at the same time we need lifeguards?” The New York Immigration Coalition called his comments “racist and divisive.” The following day, Adams appeared on PIX11 and answered a question about his comment, “Listen, we are in the silliness state of our society now with the word police constantly trying to say everything is attacking someone. If you look at the full scope of what I said, I said we have a shortage of nurses, and we have those who come from the health care profession. We have a shortage of food service workers. We have those who are migrants and (asylum-seekers) that can come and fill those jobs. I have been saying this constantly that we have a shortage of employees, and we have able-bodied migrants and asylum-seekers who want to do so, including swimming.” The Daily News’ Chris Sommerfeldt reported on May 16 that Adams on Power 105.1 FM said, “Stop playing the word police and get your ass down here to solve these problems.”