ALBANY: New York‘s governor gained national attention last spring, and won an International Emmy, for daily, televised news briefings at which he answered barrages of questions from journalists about the Covid-19 pandemic.
But lately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shied away from coming face to face with reporters as he faces sexual harassment allegations.
The Democrat hasn’t had an in-person news conference since December, when he switched to interacting with the media only via telephone and Zoom conference calls, saying it was a needed pandemic safety precaution.
To be clear, Cuomo hasn’t been ducking questions entirely. On Friday he took questions, via Zoom, from six reporters for about 25 minutes at an event in Buffalo that reporters from had been barred from attending in person.
But his conference calls with reporters have grown less frequent this spring, with six held in March, down from 10 in February and 17 in January.
And with reporters forced to dial in remotely, his office can control which reporters get to ask questions. The few who are picked often don’t get follow-up questions.
That’s a huge change from last spring, when Cuomo met daily with reporters who shouted questions from seats in the State Capitol’s Red Room.
Since February, when women began coming forward with stories about inappropriate comments or touching by Cuomo, the governor has attended numerous events featuring him speaking in front of small groups – but with no journalists allowed.
Asked on a recent conference call why he couldn’t have journalists in the room, Cuomo said that it was safer to speak to reporters remotely, and that doing it by conference call didn’t stop reporters from asking tough questions.
“We try to keep the number of people down, and we try to keep social distancing mandates,” Cuomo said of his in-person events. “Answering questions with the press, I can do through other means, like this.”
It’s in part a return to practice for Cuomo, who, before the coronavirus pandemic, rarely held regular news conferences.
But after months of easy access, the governor’s sudden refusal to allow reporters to freely question him has


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