As we’ve noted here recently, it’s been quite a while since the Governor of New York held an actual press conference to field unscripted questions from the press. (When I asked the Governor’s spokesman for a comment about that, I was told, “The governor typically has three to five events per week where he regularly takes questions.” Well… sort of…) That changed yesterday when Andrew Cuomo took questions from reporters on a range of subjects. And as a mailer from the New York GOP stated, it reminded us why he tends to “hide out” in the first place. Let’s just say things could have gone better.
After sexual harassment allegations hit members of the New York state government, reporter Karen DeWitt asked the governor what seemed like a fairly basic question: were there any new policies being put in place to eliminate the problem going forward? Any seasoned politician should have had an answer ready for that one, if only to say that they’re working on this serious problem and an announcement would be forthcoming shortly. Sadly, Cuomo opted for a different route, explaining to her why she shouldn’t be asking about sexual harassment in state government because… something, something, something. (Associated Press)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a female journalist she was doing “a disservice to women” Wednesday by asking what his administration was doing to confront sexual harassment in state government.
Public radio reporter Karen DeWitt asked the Democratic governor whether he was considering new policies in light of the national attention on sexual misconduct, as well as the recent resignation of a state economic development official who was under investigation for harassment.
Cuomo did not directly answer her question, and instead asked her and other reporters what they were doing to address harassment in their organizations.
“I think you missed the point,” he told DeWitt. “When you say ‘it’s state government’ you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.”
Here’s the video of the uncomfortable moment, straight from Twitter.
The governor's exchange with @kdewitt7 on possible changes to the state's sexual harrassment policy in light of the surge in national stories on the issue, along with ex-aide Sam Hoyt. pic.twitter.com/pOJATOohRr
— New York NOW (@NYNOW_PBS) December 13, 2017
So a female reporter asking about government policy regarding sexual harassment is, “doing a disservice to women.” Just by asking? And somehow this guy is expected to be easily reelected next year and is rumored to be preparing for a possible presidential bid. It’s getting to the point where I seriously hope he gets the nomination. The press conferences alone should be pay-per-view events.
We have some bonus footage from the same press conference. As you may recall, the FBI is looking into some appointments made by Cuomo, where political consultants from the Obama and Clinton teams were brought in to work for the governor, but were somehow on the payroll of other government agencies having nothing to do with running campaigns. Watch what happens when reporters ask Cuomo about that. It doesn’t go well, as Cuomo’s temper flares at the audacity of the reporter bringing up the subject.
REPORTER: “Why did you hire political people and put them in agencies whose mission has nothing to do with campaigns?”
CUOMO: “I don’t even understand what you’re talking about.”
REPORTER: “Well, you hired people from the Obama and Clinton campaigns and you put them on the state payroll. But you put them in agencies.. .the missions of the agencies have nothing to do with campaigns and politics.”
CUOMO: “Have you been in Albany? Have you covered government? Do people who have political experience get hired by government? Or is this a new fact?“
Again, a perfectly reasonable question from the press getting to the heart of precisely what the FBI is looking into. (And before this answer, Cuomo acknowledges that it’s what they’re investigating.) The answer, aside from sounding rather angry, doesn’t explain the situation at all. These are professional campaign operatives with backgrounds in planning (and presumably winning) elections. But the taxpayers are footing the bill for their salaries out of the budgets of agencies tasked with things such as maritime operations and children’s services. Seems like a logical question to ask. Sadly, there were no answers forthcoming.