Disclaimer: I am a somewhat cynical person by nature (I’m working on it!), and my skepticism about whether Bill de Blasio will be an honest and effective mayor has been growing for some months now. As a result, I cannot help but question the timing of his daughter Chiara de Blasio’s video confession about her past struggles with depression and substance abuse.
But I also worry that it’s insensitive and mean-spirited to be in any way critical about a young woman who by all appearances is a good person opening up about really personal, difficult things, with the intention of encouraging people with similar struggles to get help. Whether or not the mayor elect may have had a hidden agenda for releasing this video when his campaign team did, Chiara deserves a lot of credit for addressing her problem head-on.
Still, why today? Everything about the confession feels carefully coordinated. The video is polished, complete with a moody orchestral soundtrack. According to the New York Times, the de Blasio team sent an email to supporters Tuesday, with the subject: “Chiara’s story.”
“As parents, our instinct has been to protect our daughter and privately help her through a deeply personal struggle,” the email reportedly read. “We are so proud of Chiara and love her deeply.”
It certainly looks like the de Blasio campaign and family have been preparing for this day. And there are a number of possible explanations for why they chose this particular day to pull the trigger.
Capital New York reporter Peter Sterne offered one:
Some people think de Blasio releasing the Chiara video on Christmas eve is akin to releasing it Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend.
â€” Peter Sterne (@petersterne) December 24, 2013
It also seems possible that the confession was a pre-emptive strike against a press leak. In its story about the confession, the New York Times indicated it had previously been aware Chiara was dealing with substance abuse.
“For months during the campaign, Mr. de Blasio’s aides declined to comment on rumors that his daughter struggled with substance abuse and was receiving treatment, despite repeated inquiries from reporters.”
According to Capital New York, “a number of news organizations have been rumored to be reporting on” Chiara’s struggles. A DNAInfo report said the video “confirms what many close to the de Blasio family call an open secret.”
Whether it’s intentional or not, the video also serves as an effective distraction to the somewhat scandalous news that de Blasio spokeswoman Lis Smith has been having an affair with disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer, first reported Monday by the New York Post.
But according to de Blasio, the choice to release the video on Christmas Eve was due to the stress of the holiday season, which the mayor elect told DNAInfo was “a time of year where these challenges are sharpest.”
In the video, Chiara says that she is sober after receiving outpatient treatment and counseling in New York City.
"Removing substances from my life has opened so many doors for me," she said.