New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been getting hit by Republicans and his fellow Democrats alike in recent weeks in response to various reports that have painted his handling of the coronavirus pandemic in his state – and his interactions with local and state officials along the way – in a very unflattering and troubling light.
Even the FBI and the DOJ are now reportedly asking questions of senior Cuomo administration officials regarding the nursing home scandal, which blew up late last month after a report dropped from NY’s Democrat Attorney General Letitia James on how nursing home deaths could be as much as 50% higher than what the administration claimed they were.
Now that the dam has broken, everyone from reporters to lawmakers to state workers are stepping forward to detail allegations of political intimidation and verbal abuse from Cuomo that dates back to well before the start of the pandemic.
For example, former City and State editor in chief Morgan Pehme wrote in the New York Post this week about his alleged experiences in dealing with the Cuomo administration. One of them was in 2014:
It was 4:30 a.m., so I pulled the bathroom door shut in my one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment to answer the phone without waking my then-5-year-old. On the line was Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Cuomo’s then-communications director, now his second-in-command. She was threatening to destroy me.
While the April 2014 call I received from DeRosa didn’t come directly from the governor, I knew it bore the full weight of his power. City & State, the New York politics magazine I edited at the time, was about to publish a story exposing Cuomo’s machinations to distort the final report issued by the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
Pehme said he received a text from an Albany insider last week that read “everyone has an Andrew Cuomo story.” And apparently, Cuomo’s bullying is so pervasive that stories have been axed by editors who have been afraid to get on his bad side.
“Editors kill legitimate stories because of his threats; reporters shy away from promising tips; sources stay silent,” Pehme claimed while calling on others to share their stories.
In a piece published by the New York Times earlier this week, it was noted that it was a running joke in media and political circles in NY about how Cuomo and his handlers would bully people he viewed as opponents:
The theme suffuses many of Mr. Cuomo’s interactions — accounts in which the governor berated aides and elected officials, brought people to tears and threatened to fire them or end their careers. People outside the governor’s direct control who have clashed with him said he told them they would be subject to negative news stories or political challenges or, in one case, would be publicly likened to a “child rapist.”
NEW: State workers careers threatened. Lawmakers & activists warned about negative stories being leaked. Suggesting he could liken a pol to a “child rapist.”
Tales of @NYGovCuomo's style are rampant and often ugly. We found some.
— Jesse McKinley (@jessemckinley) February 22, 2021
The “everybody knew” aspect of these stories is disturbing to me. “Everybody knew” – but said nothing? While it’s good the inconvenient truth about Cuomo is finally coming out, it absolutely should not have taken this long for that to happen.
I don’t doubt that there were journalists in NY who were fearful of Cuomo and his wrath. But I also don’t doubt that another reason why this was only well-known primarily in political and media circles until now is because Cuomo was “their guy” – warts and all.
As is the case with the national media, there are some left-leaning reporters in blue states like New York who are willing to let an awful lot slide as long as the politician they’re covering has a “D” beside their name.
And as we learned last year, that is especially the case when they’ve got a Republican president they’re eager to pin “their guy’s” darker side on.