The investigation into the discovery of several suspected explosive devices — none of which detonated — at various politically connected locations on Wednesday has continued to dominate the news cycle on Thursday.
The objects were ineffective but certainly triggered security fears after being sent to President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State and presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and CNN’s New York newsroom.
Add New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the list of those who made news as claiming to have received a suspicious package. Only his was certainly not of the life-threatening variety.
But you wouldn’t know that by the tone of his media alerts Wednesday. As news of the bomb scares was spreading, the Democratic leader of New York suggested that he, too, was on the list of VIP targets.
JUST IN: New York Gov. Cuomo: “A device has been sent to my office in Manhattan, which we were just informed about. And that device … has been identified and is being handled as we speak.” pic.twitter.com/Vgq0Xmp8W8
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 24, 2018
“A device has been sent to my office in Manhattan, which we were just informed about,” Cuomo told reporters. “And that device … has been identified and is being handled as we speak.”
Another video shared by CNN’s Sonia Moghe showed the governor declaring that the package “has been taken for investigation by the NYPD” and that “the building is all clear,” before he dramatically added that “the building is safe.”
Gov. Cuomo says the package sent to his office has been removed, adding, “The building is safe. I’m going to go up and continue with my day, and that’s what every New Yorker should do.” pic.twitter.com/MQBYdOpvSl
— Sonia Moghe (@soniamoghe) October 24, 2018
Talk about high tension! The tone conjured up images of a bomb squad breathlessly defusing a bomb as the timer counted down, making Cuomo lucky to have barely escaped the danger.
Then things started to get weird.
Shortly after Cuomo’s press conference that clearly implied he was being targeted by whoever was behind the other bomb scares, details began to trickle out — and it turns out that the governor’s office did indeed receive an item.
It just happened to be something you probably have sitting around your house right now — a USB thumb drive.
“The truth followed within an hour: The package contained nothing more than a thumb drive,” confirmed the Albany Times Union.
“This is the package sent to [Governor Cuomo’s] office containing a thumb drive,” tweeted reporter Jack Fink, along with a photo of the mail. “It is NOT an explosive device.”
An official NYPD representative went even further, and confirmed that “there was no device of any kind.”
The earlier suspicious package at Governor Cuomo’s office in midtown has been cleared by NYPD personnel. It was unrelated. And there was no device of any kind
— J. Peter Donald (@JPeterDonald) October 24, 2018
As observers including CNN reporter Erica Orden pointed out, it seems almost certain that Cuomo knew there was no threat to his office, but bizarrely exaggerated what had been received.
The sequence of events:
1. Cuomo’s office denied reports it had received a suspicious package.
2. Cuomo announced on air that his office had received a “device.”
3. NYPD said the package in question was simply literature.
— erica orden (@eorden) October 24, 2018
The facts raise a few pesky questions. How did somebody — possibly even Cuomo himself — confuse a normal, run-of-the-mill thumb drive with a pipe bomb? Have they never seen a modern computer before?
Or, if they knew it was a USB drive, why was Cuomo still telling the media something wildly different? Social media users quickly asked exactly that.
— Anthony Bialy (@AnthonyBialy) October 24, 2018
The string of bomb scares is certainly serious, and needs to be investigated rapidly and to the fullest extent possible. However, it’s a bit tough to take Cuomo seriously — and much like his stint as governor, his over-the-top response makes him look like an out-of-touch joke.
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