A journalist has shared an account of a run-in he had with the office of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in which he said he was told the governor’s office would “destroy” him over some expected negative reporting.
Cuomo, a darling of the establishment media since the coronavirus pandemic began last March, is under fire over allegations that he attempted to hide the true number of those who perished from the coronavirus in New York’s nursing homes — thanks to bad directives from the governor himself, reportedly.
The Empire State’s nursing home scandal has been reported on since last spring, but it never got much traction with the left-wing reporters who all too often withhold information from the public which is supposed to keep informed.
But the scandal grew legs this month when Cuomo administration official Melissa DeRosa reportedly divulged that there was a concerted effort to hide the number of seniors who died when her boss ordered them to sleep and live with COVID-19-positive residents from March to May of 2020.
The New York Post reported DeRosa told fellow Democrats on a recent call that members of the administration “froze” when it came to the nursing home death scandal, for fear those unnecessary deaths might “be used against [them]” by the Justice Department.
The reported call was not a good look for the left’s golden boy and Emmy award-winner. The optics got worse when New York assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens entered into the picture with a claim that Cuomo used mob-style tactics to threaten him when Cuomo apparently found himself in a panic about the DeRosa reporting.
“I can tell the whole world what a bad person you are and you will be finished,” Kim said Cuomo told him on a phone call in a report published by the Post.
“You will be destroyed,” he said the governor added.
The two reports certainly didn’t portray Cuomo as a man of the people. In fact, they portrayed Cuomo as a man who engages in using the power of the government to silence his political adversaries.
If reporter and filmmaker Morgan Pehme is to believed, Cuomo’s administration has a propensity toward suing threats to conduct business. Pehme, writing for the Post, divulged on Monday that he once drew the ire of Cuomo’s office back in 2014, and the ensuing pushback left him feeling “terrorized.”
The reporter said that DeRosa attempted to pressure him into spiking an unflattering story which was to shed a light on corruption in the state.
“It was 4:30 a.m., so I pulled the bathroom door shut in my one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment to answer the phone without waking my then-5-year-old. On the line was Melissa DeRosa, Gov. Cuomo’s then-communications director, now his second-in-command. She was threatening to destroy me,” Pehme wrote.
The reporter, who was writing a story on the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption for New York’s City & State political publication, said the call from DeRosa “didn’t come directly from the governor, I knew it bore the full weight of his power.”
Pehme recalled being so afraid of Cuomo that he nearly backed off.
“This was a serious gut check for me. I worried about losing my livelihood, damaging my future, letting down my wife and daughter. But fortunately, I had bosses and colleagues who stood by the quality of our work. So we published the piece, like the press is supposed to do in the face of intimidation,” he wrote.
Writing that “the Albany press corps regularly endure abusive calls,” which he said often come from “the governor himself,” he appealed to his peers in the local media.
“Until last week, most New Yorkers didn’t know about Cuomo’s despicable ways. But they should have. Journalists are agents of accountability. It’s time for New York’s reporters to step up and tell their own Cuomo stories,” Pehme wrote.
“Many Americans are shocked, having bought into the compassionate persona Cuomo conveyed in his pandemic briefings,” he added. “But Kim’s revelations came as no surprise to anyone who has dealt with the governor. As one Albany insider texted me last week, ‘everyone has an Andrew Cuomo story.’”
Cuomo’s image as a tough-talking leader amid a once-in-a-century pandemic prevailed through most of last year, even though the nursing home scandal was there.
Now, the house of cards is collapsing as reports continue to paint Cuomo as a manipulative bully who was protected by his office and insulated from potentially damaging criticism by a media apparatus that was too afraid — or too complicit — to hold him accountable.
The future of Cuomo’s career now seems in doubt, which was unfathomable a year ago. If the mounting reports about his character are true, it should be. If other reporters answer Pheme’s call to share their own stories, there could soon be more cause for panic in Albany.
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