Andrew Cuomo's PR Flack Kept "File" On "Generally Snarky" Reporter
Andrew Cuomo cheerleader/New York Post state capitol bureau chief Fred Dicker may have the right idea with his incessant butt-smooching of his main-man Cuomo -- if you don't want the gov's office to keep a "file" on you, that is.
An aide to the governor reportedly kept a "file" on a reporter who he felt was "generally snarky" in her coverage of Cuomo -- although, given past governors' "file" keeping on those who opposed them politically (Elliot Spitzer, we're looking in your direction), using the word "file" to describe the 35-page document is in dispute.
Buzzfeed got its hands on a document prepared by Cuomo's Communications Director Richard Bamberger detailing the "snarky" work of reporter Elizabeth Benjamin, a long-time Albany reporter who -- unlike Dicker -- is often critical of Cuomo.
The document contains a number of blog posts written by Benjamin that aren't the gushing, Dicker-esque articles about Cuomo the governor's PR flack probably would prefer. However, none of the articles seem overly "snarky" -- unless, of course, Cuomo considers any sort of criticism to be snark, which he apparently does.
The document doesn't just illustrate the Nixon-esque paranoia the gov's office has towards the press, as Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith explains, it offers "a glimpse into Cuomo's obsessive and often difficult relationship with the media who cover him."
As we mentioned, none of Benjamin's articles appear to be overly "snarky," they just question some of Cuomo's decisions -- for example, one highlighted article deemed particularly snarky by Cuomo's flack is about the governor's referring to a 9/11 memorial as a "celebration," where Benjamin notes that "celebration" is an "interesting choice of words" to describe the memorial of an event that killed thousands of people.
Another notes Cuomo's presidential ambitions.
"The governor has already been speculated to harbor White House aspirations himself -- an effort that would enable him to surpass the record of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who contemplated, but never went for, a presidential run," Benjamin wrote in one post.
While the "file" doesn't contain much substance, as Smith notes, its "main value is in highlighting the intense sensitivity in Cuomo's office to even the shadow of criticism or hint that politics could be taking place in the hallowed halls of the statehouse. Even as Cuomo edges toward the far more intense public scrutiny of the national stage in an anticipated presidential bid in 2016, he has created what is, even for the typically difficult statehouse relations between press an executive, an unusually tense standoff with the statehouse press corps."
As Smith also points out, the governor's office's handling of the media has paid off -- he currently boasts an approval rating of about 70-percent, according to a recent Sienna poll.
The governor's office -- per usual -- ignored our request for comment. We'll let you know if we hear back. Meantime, have a look at Bamberger's "file" here.
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