Hudson County prosecutor Esther Suarez is facing a storm of criticism on social media for telling Jersey City residents that they should check her Twitter feed for news and not rely on NJ.com for information.
Suarez made her comments at a community meeting Tuesday night in Jersey City to talk about public safety concerns following the rape and murder of a woman in Lincoln Park last month.
“I’m never one to tell you to go to either NJ.com or any of those papers for actual news,” Suarez said. “There it goes, I said it.”
Jersey City mayor Steven Fulop was seen smiling at the comment and then looking at his cell phone, according to a video posted by Hudson County View, an online news site that first reported the story.
“I think you need to do some sort of social media, and I would tell you if you can, go to the Twitter feed for the County and the Prosecutor’s Office for Jersey City,” Suarez said. “I think that’s where you are going to get really your best information.”
A spokesperson for state attorney general Gurbir Grewal did not immediately respond to an 8:42 PM e-mail seeking comment on Suarez’s remarks.
A resident pressed Suarez on why she was directing people to her Twitter feed rather than to a site run by a news organization.
“I’m telling you where to go,” Suarez said. “Our Twitter feed go on our Twitter feed, you are going to know exactly what is going on in terms of any crimes. I would tell you that if you’re interested in Jersey City, I’d tell you the city, the JCPD and the County, that’s how you get more localized news, that’s my opinion.”
Suarez used the public meeting intended to make residents feel safer to pick her fight with the media.
“Imagine having a frightened constituent come to you and your response is ‘don’t read the news,’” Terrence McDonald, a Jersey Journal reporter said on Twitter.
McDonald said that “Suarez’s office has all but ignored me” since he wrote an October 2018 story about the prosecutor’s role in investigating Katie Brennan’s allegation that Murphy administration official Al Alvarez raped her during the 2017 gubernatorial campaign.
“I didn’t even break any news here. I reported what was happening. It’s been nearly radio silence since then,” McDonald tweeted.
Rory Fleming, a lawyer from Minnesota, tweeted that “Suarez is calling her local press fake news for … asking questions. That undermines our democracy and desire for transparency. Suarez is taking advantage of NJ not electing prosecutors, unlike almost every other state.”
“I really regret attending that meeting last night,” tweeted Amy Wilson, a Jersey City activist and New Jersey Globe columnist. “My faith in the people in charge is at an all-time low and it was already in the sub-basement when I showed up.”
Part of the local furor is that the prosecutor’s office and the city took four days to announce that the death of a Jersey City woman found in a lake at Lincoln Park on March 24 had been ruled a homicide.
“We work under the impression that it was a suicide,” Fulop said.
The Jersey Journal reported on March 25 that “initial information about the body being found was posted on Twitter by the prosecutor’s office Sunday” and that “more than 24 hours later, details of the incident and whether or not foul play was involved, have not been released.”
It was later reported that the woman, Carolina Cano, a 45-year-old nanny, was kidnapped, raped and strangled. Jorge Rios, a Honduran who had been deported once and was in the U.S. illegally, was arrested on Sunday.
The story on Cano’s murder and Rios’ immigration status were first reported by NBC New York.