Some of us — okay, me — warned members of the press not to lionize Andrew Cuomo last year. And now that the New York governor has been accused of sexual harassment and unwanted advances by at least three women, some guilty parties are hiding behind the excuse of being related to the man.
“Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother,” CNN host Chris Cuomo said on Monday night. “And obviously, I cannot cover it, because he is my brother,” Cuomo added. “Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it, extensively, and they will continue to do so.”
As a sibling, it makes sense that Chris Cuomo wants to avoid hurting his brother if he can help it. But as a broadcaster, it’s hypocritical to plead conflict of interest when that didn’t stop you from inviting that exact same brother on your show multiple times during the pandemic.
For those who want to wait for confirmation about whether he’s also a creep and predator, be my guest, but his propensity for behaving like a jackass has long been indisputable.
The same night Chris Cuomo presented his dubious argument to viewers, his older sibling was accused of making unwanted advances by Anna Ruch, who told the New York Times that Andrew Cuomo had touched her back, held her face, and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding. Prior to Ruch’s accusations, two other women, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, accused Cuomo of sexual harassment while serving as aides in the Cuomo administration. In a statement released on Sunday prior to Ruch’s accusations, Cuomo said, “To be clear, I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.” Cuomo also acknowledged that some of his previous comments “may have been insensitive or too personal” and said he was “truly sorry” to those who might have “misinterpreted (the remarks) as an unwanted flirtation.”
These comments allegedly include asking Bennett, a 25-year-old former executive assistant and health policy adviser to Cuomo, questions about her sex life during a conversation in his state Capitol office while noting that he was open to relationships with women in their twenties. Bennet told the New York Times that she interpreted the exchange, which she said took place last June, as “clear overtures to a sexual relationship.” Cuomo argues that he behaved as a mentor and “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”
Men accused of such behavior love to pretend they were playing the role of mentor, don’t they?
I will let the private law firm selected by New York state Attorney General Letitia James handle its investigation into these allegations, but it is telling that Cuomo reportedly had to be pressured into relinquishing enough control for a truly independent investigation into him to happen. There was precedent for that pressure; in 2014, when a political commission studying state corruption appeared to come too close to Cuomo’s inner circle, he made sure that it was shut down. More recently, Cuomo and his top aides have been accused of berating, harassing, and threatening state officials.
All of this, as well as the investigation into his administration allegedly hiding nursing home deaths, speaks to the larger problem about Cuomo — he is a bully known to abuse his power. For those who want to wait for confirmation about whether he’s also a creep and predator, be my guest, but his propensity for behaving like a jackass has long been indisputable. Yet, some couldn’t rush to help make this man a hero because it suited a news narrative fit for a pandemic.
Fox News andrew-cuomo-praise-liberal-pundits-embarrassing-tweets">can go fuck itself for calling out “liberals” fawning over Cuomo for much of 2020, especially given that they continue to fellate Donald Trump just about every hour on the hour, but I didn’t forget all that chatter about “Cuomosexuals” last year either. At the time, headlines like “New York women are coronavirus crushing on Andrew Cuomo: ‘Is he single?’” and “Why We Are Crushing on Andrew Cuomo Right Now” made me want to vomit in my mouth a little. Some had the decency to mock this trend, but folks were really out here making YouTube music videos lavishing praise on this man.
While not everyone might not have publicly crushed on Cuomo, they fueled his ego nonetheless with stories about him potentially running for president or floating his name out as Joe Biden’s attorney general.
And they said very little about how Cuomo, the guy who never wants to tax the rich, helped make New York such a healthy target for COVID-19 by exacerbating some of the very health care inequities that created needless loss of life. Or how, while he was playing a pandemic hero on television, he cut funds to Medicaid and used the budget to settle political scores against rivals. I can’t recall anyone really confronting Cuomo about his defending the NYPD after clear evidence of them being aggressive with peaceful protestors went viral.
What makes all of this more frustrating is much of that adoring coverage was mostly attributable to him being merely competent at communicating on television.
As part of a Q&A with Rolling Stone last year, Mark Binelli wrote last April: “The debasement of standards in the Trump era has made even minimal gestures of statesmanship appear positively Churchillian… and so the mere fact that Cuomo relies on data and scientific opinion and has the ability to display human empathy can feel disproportionately soothing.”
Some faulted Cuomo’s policy for the influx of Covid-19 cases in nursing homes in real time, but much of that was drowned out by this sentiment. All Cuomo had to be was Not As Bad As Donald Trump, and suddenly, that absolved him of his sins. In “Andrew Cuomo Is the Control Freak We Need Right Now,” New York Times media critic Ben Smith wrote that “the governor’s great strength has always been his capacity to bend the bureaucracy to his will.” Nah. A bully is a bully — and bullies tend to fall on their asses eventually.
It just took a little longer for this clown to do so.
Now, under the combined weight of all those scandals, Cuomo might finally be on the verge of a well-earned political reckoning. It remains to be seen if the scandals will cause Andrew Cuomo to give real consideration to calls to resign, but I hope all of those “Cuomosexuals” and other self-appointed media cheerleaders will cool off.