Gov. Andrew Cuomo lives by the motto, “NY Tough” (or “NY Touch” if you believe what you read on the Corning Tower).
Then why is he not tough enough to face the press?
We wrote about this last week — his new habit of using covid as an excuse for excluding the press from his public events and avoiding answering anything more than a few fluff questions from carefully selected reporters on a phone call.
Our tough governor hasn’t actually answered a reporter’s question in person since December.
We understand covid restrictions as a reason for limiting capacity at public events.
But the governor is making a mockery of his own restrictions by using them as an excuse to avoid accountability. And in doing so, he’s making a mockery of all of us.
In the last week, the governor has held closed-press events at venues where there was plenty of room for the handful of reporters that regularly cover him.
He seemed to have plenty of space at these same events for supporters to praise and applaud him, though.
One event last week was held in New York City’s Javits Center, which has 814,000 square feet of exhibition space.
On Wednesday, he held an event in the grandstand at Belmont Park — an outdoor horse track with a seating capacity of 33,000.
His vaccination announcement the day before was held outside, in a parking lot, of an apple orchard. What could be more socially distant than 60 acres of farmland?
Still, no press was allowed at any of those venues.
He lived-streamed each event, which allowed him to give covid statistics and promote whatever he was promoting that day (vaccination awareness, a new hockey stadium) completely unchallenged.
Some might feel our little crusade just is sour grapes over being excluded.
But if the state’s chief executive is not taking questions from the press, then he’s not taking questions from any member of the public.
He’s deciding what he wants you to hear and what he doesn’t want you to hear.
Given the multiple scandals he faces and the many legislative priorities that still challenge the state, the governor has an obligation to face the media, to allow reporters to ask questions and allow them to follow up with more questions.
He’s clearly hoping if he doesn’t face daily questioning about nursing home deaths, or about manipulating statistics, or about sexual harassment allegations, or about state employees working on his book deal on taxpayer time, or about his potential impeachment, or about raising taxes on New Yorkers, or about damaged bolts on the bridge he named after his father, then New Yorkers will eventually forget that any of that is happening.
They’ll lose interest in the scandals. And the governor will live to fight another day — and maybe even another four years.
Why won’t our governor make himself available to answer the public’s questions?
What is he hiding? What is he afraid of?
If the governor is so NY Tough, let’s see him prove it by facing the press in person.