Confusing Mailers Almost Make It Look Like the New Yorker and the Times Endorsed Cuomo


It’s Primary Day, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has emerged at long last from hibernation. The governor is facing off in today’s Democratic primaries against Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham law professor who, though she has a very slim chance at victory, has still given Cuomo a surprisingly uncomfortable few months. In the last week, the governor has finally begun actively campaigning, appearing in the last couple days at a rally in Times Square and at the Labor Day parade with Kathy Hochul, his pick for lieutenant governor, where they awkwardly tried to avoid making eye contact with Teachout or her running mate, Tim Wu, who were cheerily and persistently trying to introduce themselves, even as one of the governor’s aides threw himself in their path, human shield-style. (After a video of the incident was widely circulated, Cuomo told a group of reporters the incident had been misinterpreted: “I never saw her.”)

The Cuomo camp has also hit the state’s airwaves and mailboxes with a robocall from Hillary Clinton and a set of mailers featuring some choice quotes about what wonderful candidates they are. The only problem: The quotes come from the New Yorker and the New York Times, neither of which endorsed Cuomo or Hochul. Back in August, the Times
refused to endorse anyone in the governor’s race, and endorsed Wu for lieutenant governor. The New Yorker doesn’t typically endorse candidates, and definitely didn’t do so this time.

One of the mailers, though, places New York Times quotes in such a way that they look a lot like endorsements: They’re positioned just above a box noting endorsements from the Buffalo News and the Daily News. (To put it another way, though, the actual endorsements and the quotes are separated by a box.)

Political reporter Azi Paybarah of Capital New York tweeted an image of the mailer this morning:

The other mailer features a quote from New Yorker staff writer John Cassidy. An image of it was tweeted on September 5 by fellow New Yorker staff scribe Rebecca Mead:

Cassidy’s quote comes from a May post that actually wasn’t entirely flattering to Cuomo. In a new story yesterday, he called it “amusing” that the Cuomo camp would use his words. He doesn’t mean amusing in a good way:

If, on the eve of the Democratic primary, playing around with an old post (accompanied by two Times citations, one from 2011) is about the best that the Cuomo campaign can do in the way of progressive endorsements, it just shows how badly it has stumbled. Even though the governor seems certain to be confirmed as the Democratic candidate, he’s already lost a great deal. In many ways, the real victor tomorrow will be his opponent Zephyr Teachout and the insurgency that she represents.

Wu seems genuinely angry about the mailers, arguing on Twitter yesterday that they’re meant to be misleading:

(Wu is correct that the Daily News didn’t endorse Hochul. But it did unequivocally back the governor.)

Wu also says the governor is lying about not seeing them at the parade:

We’re expecting a statement from the governor’s campaign staff on the mailer issue, and will update when we hear back.

Update, 1:48 p.m.: A Cuomo spokesperson writes via email, “Paper endorsements are in a clearly labeled box and to separate them from news story quotes.”