So much for the “Love Gov” and America’s paragon of cooperative leadership, eh? Politico reports this morning what everyone in Albany and the Big Apple already knew. Andrew Cuomo is an abusive bully whose biggest achievement appears to have been suckering the media:
Similar experiences for other New York political figures, only a fraction of which are public knowledge, have become commonplace in recent years and transcend political affiliation and other dividing lines. Many describe receiving angry calls late in the evening, or at other inopportune times, and being unable to get off the phone with New York’s most powerful official. Warnings and browbeating aren’t unusual, say those familiar with the governor’s approach.
“Anybody who knows the Cuomo administration knows that threats are what they consider their charm,” said a former Democratic elected official who has been on the end of several such calls.
Now, Cuomo’s cutthroat tactics — already the stuff of legend in Albany’s halls of power — have been on full display as the Democratic governor faces his biggest firestorm in years over his administration’s handling of nursing home fatalities during Covid-19 and his unsparing treatment of lawmakers who have dared to step out against him.
Cuomo’s unrestrained polemic Wednesday against state Assembly member Ron Kim, until recently a relatively low-profile rank-and-file Democratic legislator, has put an exclamation point on the hardball politics that New York City lawmakers, as well as political operatives inside and outside the state, have long bristled at — but largely felt it was unproductive to challenge in public.
It might be understandable that politicians who need to work with Cuomo didn’t want to challenge Cuomo’s behavior publicly. But where was the media while this “stuff of legend” played out? Shouldn’t they have been reporting this all along, and not just when Cuomo finally let it rip against a member of his own caucus?
The media had other priorities, obviously. They spent the last year lionizing Cuomo, hailing his leadership in the COVID-19 pandemic as a contrast to You Know Who in the White House. Cuomo spent the year getting feted by the glitterati, winning an Emmy for holding press conferences and going on tour bragging about how he beat the virus while covering up how his policies may have led to thousands of unnecessary deaths in nursing homes.
Melissa DeRosa’s admission in a closed-door hearing of that cover-up didn’t even quite break that spell. Only when Cuomo went nuclear on fellow Democrat Ron Kim did the media coverage of Cuomo shift.
Now that it’s out, though, it’s really out, and Cuomo’s adversaries in both parties have an opening for revenge. As I noted last night, that includes NYC mayor Bill de Blasio, who also made it clear that this is Cuomo’s normal modus operandi:
.@NYCMayor de Blasio reacts to our interview with NY Assemblyman @RonTKim, who says he was threatened by @NYGovCuomo: “That's classic Andrew Cuomo…The bullying is nothing new." https://t.co/nflM2tLyq8 pic.twitter.com/O7HVYyz7vt
— Morning Joe (@Morning_Joe) February 18, 2021
It’s certainly new for New York voters and everyone else across the US who followed the national media’s water-carrying for Cuomo. Maybe now that they’re done with that narrative, they can start reporting on New York’s actual record on handling the pandemic, which has been disastrous, and perhaps compare it to other states like Florida, which has had better results with far less onerous restrictions. And now that it has become open season on Andrew Cuomo, we might see a consensus among the bipartisan targets of Cuomo’s bullying that it’s time to give him the heave-ho.
Addendum: The media’s embrace of Cuomo will be hard to pry loose, I guess:
You mean Andrew Cuomo's scandal involving thousands of deaths, a cover-up, and an attempt at intimidation of critics didn't probe that for you? Good frickin' grief, @Politico, you should be embarrassed by this. https://t.co/mFdprdNt8W
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) February 19, 2021
“Prove,” not probe, but one cannot edit tweets, alas …