Governor Andrew Cuomo has found a somewhat creative way around New York’s public records laws: his Blackberry.
Cuomo’s use of Blackberry’s BBN message system (and his refusal to use official state email) to communicate with staffers and other pols has come under fire by many (read: just about everyone) in the media because it’s in direct conflict with his campaign promise of overseeing an administration that would practice an unprecedented level of transparency. His biggest fan, however — New York Post scribe Fred Dicker — is not amongst the critics (imagine that).
Cuomo’s use of BBN messaging skirts public records laws because — as the New York Times recently explained — Blackberry messages can’t be traced, and unlike traditional email, can’t be recovered.
In other words, Cuomo can say whatever he wants to whomever he wants
about whatever potentially slimy thing he might be up to and the public
would never find out about it.
Cuomo obviously understands this concept all too well — while attorney
general, he even explained the benefits of Blackberry messaging for
anyone carrying out an affair, saying “You get into trouble with your
significant other, you give them your
BlackBerry. You want it? Here it is. Ask me anything, I’ll show you.”
This morning, in a subtle attempt to defend the governor’s use of his
untraceable Blackberry for official state business, Dicker got an
“exclusive” interview with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who tells
the leader of the Cuomo “rah-rah” squad that the gov’s Blackberry use is
“A public official has a right to talk to his staff without it being
open to the public,” Silver tells The Post. “I believe a governor and
members of the Legislature have a right to correspond with someone in
confidence, in a way that is not reportable or traceable.”
Dicker is then certain to point out that the criticism comes “without
any suggestion of illegal or improper conduct by the governor’s
Well, maybe not — but this is the same governor who campaigned on the
promise of an unprecedented level of transparency. So criticism can’t
just be written off as unfounded — even by a Cuomo apologist like Fred
Dicker’s love affair with Cuomo has been well-documented by this
publication and others. Dicker has been Cuomo’s number one fan — under
the guise of being a journalist — since he first ran for attorney general. In fact, Dicker supposedly even sent Post photographers
to the home of Carl Paladino — Cuomo’s Republican opponent in his
campaign for governor — to take pictures of his daughter. The alleged
slime-ball tactic led to a heated exchange between the candidate and
Dicker on the campaign trail.
Dicker’s love of all things Cuomo has earned him a book deal to write an
“unauthorized” biography of the likely 2016 presidential candidate —
and, as you might imagine, he’s been promised by the Cuomo
administration that the governor is “willing to cooperate.”
Meanwhile,Vanity Fair writer Michael Shnayerson also has inked a deal to write a
biography of Cuomo. No word on whether Shnayerson will be granted the same amount of cooperation.
Despite the fact that Dicker is yet to say a bad thing about the guy, he claims he hasn’t had his lips attached to Cuomo’s ass for the
last five years, he’s just been telling the “truth” about the governor.
“It’s not fawning or overly solicitous just to describe what the truth
is,” Dicker explained earlier this year of his love of all things Cuomo.
As we commented at the time, whatever you say, Freddie.
We sent Dicker an email this morning asking “just to be clear, Fred,
you’re the one journalist in New York who thinks Cuomo using his
Blackberry to communicate with staffers is perfectly
fine, and doesn’t completely contradict his promise of a transparent
We’ll let you know if we hear back.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 30, 2012