“I don’t know what Barak Obama’s worldview is …” Charlie Rose’s calm tenor voice trailed off as he chatted academically with Tom Brokaw.
“No,” affirmed Brokaw in response.
The two media moguls were reflecting on the 2008 presidential race on the eve of Obama’s election and confessed that, to their astonishment, they knew far too little about the presidential front runner. The scene was a rare public water cooler moment for the national press corps. It was as if a pair of executive managers from the Ministry of Truth met up in the break room one day, set down the pails of water they’d been toting, and finally thought to comment to one another, “Geez all this water is heavy. You think we should be carrying so much?”
Maggie Haberman at Politico reported on a similar water cooler moment for the NY press corps last Thursday regarding New York Democrat gubernatorial candidate Andrew Cuomo. She pointed out that with Carl Paladino 20 points behind Cuomo in the polls, the press is spending too little attention on the policy points of the candidate that is likely to be the next governor. She then highlights just how little information the press is being provided from Team Cuomo. She writes:
Janison (of Newsday) writes that while making a campaign appearance about the property tax yesterday, Cuomo was “unwilling to say if contracts with public employees should continue past their expiration date if new pacts remain unsettled — as they do now under state law.”
City Hall News’s Edward-Isaac Dovere reported today that Cuomo doesn’t always fill out questionnaires from activist groups that they ask for, preferring sometimes to write his own policy statement. It avoids the “yes” or “no” types of answers that can sometimes come back to haunt candidates.
To be fair, some of the media infatuation with Carl Paladino is Paladino’s fault. Still, there is much that has been overhyped. Like the Daily News’ obsession with Paladino’s driver and the f-bomb that may not have been uttered. Yet the media’s grumbling echoes a familiar chord with Paladino’s own charges that the NY press corps has a separate bar for covering Cuomo.
Indeed, there are a number of issues where Cuomo’s feet have remained dangerously distant from the fire. Since Wall Street resides in the Empire State, the bursting mortgage bubble has emerged as one of the leading fiscal problems for the state. Yet Cuomo has only faintly been pressed about his tenure as the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the large expansion of sub-prime mortgages. Cuomo even delivered a speech admitting to the large risk of default in unconventional mortgages, while downplaying their danger. Widespread corruption in New York state remains a fixture of local politics, despite Andrew Cuomo’s tenure as AG. What about SEIU’s Working Families Party endorsement when Cuomo is running on a platform supposedly detrimental to government unions?
The media has done more than just complain of transparency. Elinor Tatum, managing editor of the Amsterdam News, penned an open letter condemning Cuomo’s detachment from campaigning and meeting with the black community. She wrote:
You have remained silent. You have met with no one. And I mean no one. You have not spoken to us or any other media outlets, for that matter. You seem to think that you are the golden child who cannot be touched but I am afraid, my friend, you may be sorely mistaken.
Less than a day later and the NY press corps’ water cooler moment has concluded. The same Newsday writer that opined on Cuomo’s “substantial” lack of sunlight regarding state employee contracts is headlining an assault on Paladino’s campaign spending for staff. I suppose that when you are trailing by double digits in the polls, having more staff is nefarious, while policies to fix a crumbling state budget are mundane.
(The boss has entered the break room.)
“What is this? A coffee break! You’re supposed to be carrying water!”
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