“The way they question President Trump at some of these press conferences, I’ve never heard that tone with the president,” the New York governor said Monday in an interview with WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
Pressed by host Alan Chartock on whether Trump deserved such behavior, Cuomo argued that both reporters and public officials should respect the “institution that each person represents,” even when they dislike the individual.
“You have reporters who ask questions that are just really unintelligent, but I try to get past that because they’re a member of the press . . .,” Cuomo said. “So, just because a person is a jerk doesn’t mean that person doesn’t count. I think the same thing is true with an elected official. You want to say, ‘I don’t like the president, and I disrespect him.’ I know, but it’s still the office of the president.”
The comments came as a surprise, given that Cuomo is one of Trump’s fiercest critics. The governor also has had his own decorum issues with Trump’s office, at one point going so far as to say that “if I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked him.”
Some Democrats were not only surprised, but also angered by Cuomo’s newly principled take on Trump’s relationship with the press. When New York Times White House reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted about the Cuomo interview on Wednesday, merely calling attention to it as “very revealing,” observers chided both her and the governor for any suggestion that Trump should be given respect.
This was a very revealing interview between Cuomo and Alan Chartock https://t.co/CR5Qhc4kq0
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 25, 2020
“The disgusting tone of this president changed the playing field,” one commenter said. “He doesn’t deserve any level of respect.” Another said, “Cuomo had jumped the shark.” Still another tweeted that “a governor should be above these childish feelings,” while some observers scolded Haberman for linking to a New York post article: “Maggie, really? Had respect for you till now.”
Cuomo’s comments come after he got into a heated exchange with a reporter at one of his Covid-19 press briefings last week. When the reporter, Jimmy Vielkind of the Wall Street Journal, pressed the governor on whether New York City schools would be closed the next day, Cuomo said, “Let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone.” When Vielkind suggested that parents might still be confused after the explanation that had been given, Cuomo said, “They’re not confused, you’re confused.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) mocks and argues with a reporter during a testy exchange about school openings. pic.twitter.com/POwVxX4NTl
— The Recount (@therecount) November 18, 2020
Cuomo also has faced increasing grumblings in recent weeks over his Covid-19 restriction orders. He backtracked amid criticism Monday on his statement that he would spend Thanksgiving with his daughters and elderly mother, a few days after urging New Yorkers to avoid gathering with their loved ones for the holidays.
Less than two hours after @NYGovCuomo said in a radio interview that his 89-year-old mother, Matilda, would join him for Thanksgiving, senior adviser @RichAzzopardi now says the Democratic governor’s plans have changed — he will be working on the holiday.
Full statement here —> pic.twitter.com/VzTrd0F5Ld
— Jimmy Vielkind (@JimmyVielkind) November 23, 2020
In Monday’s radio interview, Cuomo said he’s seeing a “nastier tone” with the press, both in New York and across the nation, than ever before. He said such behavior wouldn’t have been tolerated when his father was governor. The late Mario Cuomo was New York’s governor from 1983 through 1994.
“I’ve watched hundreds of press conferences over the years,” Cuomo said. “If anyone used the tone that they’ve used with me – if you did that with my old man, you’d be lucky if he didn’t walk around and deck you.”
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