EDITORIAL: The Arrogance of Andrew Cuomo
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Back in the early 1980's, I was a reporter and editor for the student weekly newspaper called The Legislative Gazette in Albany. The program was the brainchild of WAMC's Alan Chartock (then my SUNY New Paltz political science professor). And I was doubly blessed to have Glenn Doty as my mentor/editor, who was a former managing editor for The Times Herald-Record and who had just started life as a journalism professor at New Paltz.
During my first semester, 1982, Mario Cuomo was Lt. Governor, and, in 1983, Cuomo was in the Executive Chamber. (In fact, without Mario Cuomo's support, Chartock said the Gazette would have died on the vine in 1978).
Andrew Cuomo, who lived in the Governor's Mansion then, was learning the political ropes from his father. But make no mistake. Despite his electability (first as the state's attorney general and later as Governor) this long, Mario would be severely ashamed of his son if he were alive today.
Mario could be tough, but we reporters never heard accusations of sexual assault or sexual harassment while he was in office. And he came from an even older generation where women were treated even more like second class citizens.
To be sure, there were plenty of other misogynist bad actors in and around the Legislature during the early 1980s that many of my female colleagues at the Gazette had to put up with. They, too, were in their early 20s, like some of Cuomo's accusers.
This was long before the "MeToo" movement and at a time when there were very few women who held political office or power in Albany.
Some may say that Andrew Cuomo, at age 63, is part of a generation of Baby Boomer men who grew up in an age where women were easy targets of sexual assault/sexual harassment -- because powerful men knew there would be little or no consequences for their actions.
In fact, during my time at the Gazette, there was one Assemblyman in particular who was a known predator and the female student reporters were warned about him.
It's long overdue for men - and women - of all ages to STOP enabling the misogynists, harassers, assaulters and rapists.
Andrew Cuomo got a pass for so long because too many people close to him feared him while too many Democrats around the state defended him or went silent -because they thought his advocacy for progressive causes was more important than protecting women who were victimized personally and professionally.
Perhaps the most shining example of who Andrew Cuomo was can be seen in a December 2014 video of the Governor when he celebrated the arrival of the casino here. In a visit to Bethel Woods, he twice remarked about Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther greeting a lobbyist at the event with a kiss, and, later adding that "she doesn't even kiss me like that."
It's sad that Gunther could not or would not speak out then to challenge the leader of her party. But it's also a reflection of our culture, and maybe Gunther's generation, too, that women are supposed to sit there and just tolerate the sexist and sexual comments and abhorrent behavior.
Editor's Note: Just a few hours after publishing this, I learned that Doty had died.