Mayor frustrated with media scrutiny 

The strain of Mayor GavinNewsom’s very public personal struggles — and the ensuing media frenzy — seems to have taken a toll on the young mayor Tuesday as he snapped at reporters while refusing any questions about his recent confession of problems with alcohol.

Newsom made his first public appearance Tuesday morning since his office released a statement late Monday revealing that he is seeking counseling for drinking.

After participating in a downtown press event, Newsom moved determinedly toward the front door of the building to a waiting car, but reporters physically surrounded him to ask questions.

Instead of remaining silent, or giving a standard "no comment," response, Newsom rebuffed reporters’ inquiries.

He told one reporter, who asked about the confessions, that he had "taken liberty with the question."

When another reporter asked him if he was frustrated with the media, Newsom was sarcastic in his response.

"I think it’s great that you guys have come around with me on issues that I think are important," he said.

And when he got into the black car at curbside, Newsom chastised an Examiner reporter who tried to ask a question, saying, "Could you possibly be respectful and could I close the door?"

Asked about the mayor’s behavior, New-som’s press secretary, Peter Ragone, said that while the mayor understands the media has a job to do, "he also understands that he has a job to do."

"We are focusing on finding a balance in that situation," Ragone said.

Dealing with the press is part of the job, agrees P.J. Johnston, political consultant and the press secretary for former Mayor Willie Brown.

"That doesn’t mean Newsom isn’t a human being who can eventually get tired of being dogged at every step," Johnston said.

Being mayor of San Francisco is a tough job for any candidate, according to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, who told The Examiner that the job is a "bone crusher."

One political insider, who did not want to be named, called Newsom "thin-skinned" and said the reason why the mayor’s having a hard time with the press is because for the first several years of his tenure, "he had a relative love affair with the media."

That relationship clearly began to sour about a year ago, when in the wake of his divorce, the press began to take note of his choice of girlfriends — including a movie star who practices Scientology and a 20-year-old hostess caught at a charity event with a cocktail in her hand — his changing hairstyle and his drinking habits. At the end of last year, he said he was considering not running for re-election, due to constant invasion of his private life.

KQED radio reporter Scott Shafer, the press secretary for former Mayor Art Agnos, said dealing with the intensity of the press is something that a mayor needs to get used to, adding that with modern technology the pressures can be multiplied.

"Every time you blow your nose, someone’s going to record it and put it up on YouTube," Shafer said.

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