If you watched Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference on Wednesday afternoon anticipating that he might resign over allegations of sexual harassment, his explanation for his conduct and his “sorry if you were offended” apology should have given you a clue that it wasn’t gonna happen.
The governor is on the hot seat right now for allegations of sexual harassment after two former aides accused him of making inappropriate comments and other offensive behavior toward them.
In his first press conference since the scandal erupted, Cuomo spent the first 30 minutes acting as if it was business as usual in the state capitol, giving updates on the status of the covid crisis and vaccinations.
When he finally addressed the gorilla in the room — the issue that’s prompted bipartisan calls for his resignation — Cuomo delivered an apology of questionable sincerity and an explanation so implausible to almost be laughable.
The first was the qualified apology.
“What matters is if anybody was offended by it, and I could intend no offense,” the governor said, “but if they were offended by it, then it was wrong. And if they were offended by it, I apologize.”
If. If. If. “I’m sorry if you were offended” is designed to make it appear you’re sorry, when you’re only really sorry that someone got their nose out of joint over what you did.
When it came to his explanation for his conduct, the same governor who mandated workplace sexual harassment training several years ago took a page from the George Costanza playbook by pleading ignorance.
Fans of the TV show, “Seinfeld,” will remember an episode in which George was called out by his boss for having sex with the cleaning lady in his office.
“Was that wrong?” George asked with mock incredulity. “Should I not have done that?”
Here’s how the governor put it:
“I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said, adding that he never touched anyone inappropriately. Because that would be wrong.
To think that the governor of the state is unaware of the strict limits placed upon conduct in the workplace, particularly toward underlings, is absurd.
And he can’t in one breath apologize for his conduct, then in the next act like he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.
It was at that point that he probably should have stopped talking.
He went on to defend accusations that he inappropriately touched a woman at a wedding, saying he hugs and kisses everybody, just like his late father, Gov. Mario Cuomo did. (“Thanks for throwing me under the bus, son.”)
And it was pretty obvious he was avoiding the tough questions, failing to call on any of the reporters who regularly cover the state capitol, including the New York Times reporter who broke the story about the second aide’s accusations.
As we said in Wednesday’s editorial, it’s only fair to all parties involved that we wait for the results of the state attorney general’s investigation before passing judgment.
But if this is the way the governor plans to defend himself, he might be in for a heap of trouble.