By:
March 1, 2021

It might be time to dispel the thinking that the so-called “mainstream media” is protecting New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The media absolutely has reported en masse on sexual allegations leveled against Cuomo by a former aide. Now a second former aide has come forth with sexual harassment allegations. This time, the story was broken in The New York Times by Jesse McKinley.

The aide, Charlotte Bennett, told McKinley that Cuomo asked her several questions about her sex life, including whether she was monogamous in her relationships and if she had ever had sex with older men. Bennett also claimed Cuomo told her he was open to having relationships with women in their 20s — comments she took as overtures to a sexual relationship.

In a statement to the Times, Cuomo said he had “never made advances toward Ms. Bennett, nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate.”

Then on Sunday, Cuomo apologized for his remarks that “have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”

He added, “At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business. I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that.”

McKinley’s story is a detailed account of Bennett’s accusations. Not that it should ever be doubted, but it’s proof that respected news outlets such as the Times will definitely go all-in on reporting stories of abuse of power regardless of who is the person in power.

And an interesting tidbit: as soon as Donald Trump finished his speech at CPAC, Fox News talked about the speech, while MSNBC was covering the Cuomo story — specifically how the Cuomo originally called for an independent investigation and then, after pushback, agreed to refer the matter to the state attorney general’s office.

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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