Andrew Cuomo is now the subject of serious, detailed allegations of sexual harassment—but much of the media are not taking the matter all that seriously.
A former top aide to the New York governor made her accusations on the record and told others about it at the time. She’s not filing a lawsuit or seeking financial damages, choosing instead to publish her story on Medium. These things give Lindsey Boylan a certain degree of credibility.
On the other hand, Cuomo is strongly denying Boylan’s allegations. She has refused, since first tweeting about this in December, to talk to a single journalist, which means there is no way of testing her account. And Boylan is running for Manhattan borough president, which means the attention could benefit her politically.
But one thing is not ambiguous, and that’s the way the media, which generally pounce on such stories, have played down or ignored this one. Nothing on the network evening newscasts. Nothing on CNN. Four sentences on the “Today” show. A few brief items on MSNBC, with female hosts who usually lead the charge on such allegations offering no comment.
The New York Times ran a lengthy piece on the controversy involving its home-state governor but buried it on the home page with other small headlines.
These and other media outlets pounded away at the four-decade-old accusations against Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, even though Boylan has more corroborating evidence than Christine Blasey Ford.
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And virtually every accusation of sexual harassment or assault against Donald Trump got major coverage, even though he, like Cuomo, denied them. Stormy Daniels became a household name, although that was due in part to the evidence that Trump’s lawyer funneled hush money payments to the former porn star.
Cuomo, of course, is already on the defensive over the nursing home scandal, and one Democratic lawmaker has accused him of a threatening phone call. Others have charged him with being a bully, though that hardly amounts to corroboration of Boylan’s specific account.
“Ms. Boylan’s claims of inappropriate behavior are quite simply false,” Cuomo’s press secretary said.
Boylan says Cuomo once told her “let’s play strip poker” on an airline flight with two aides seated nearby.
When they were alone in his Manhattan office, she writes, “As I got up to leave and walk toward an open door, he stepped in front of me and kissed me on the lips. I was in shock, but I kept walking.”
She says on Medium that after other comments that made her uncomfortable, and having been told by one boss that Cuomo had a crush on her, she resigned.
While some will call it trivial, Boylan says, “Telling my truth isn’t about seeking revenge. I was proud to work in the Cuomo administration. For so long I had looked up to the Governor. But his abusive behavior needs to stop.”
The Times says three people who worked in Cuomo’s office at the same time agreed “the governor would sometimes make inappropriate remarks during work and comment on people’s appearances.” And Cuomo’s Democratic nemesis, Bill de Blasio, is calling for a probe of the “really disturbing” allegations.
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Now the partisanship problem runs in both directions. The New York Post, a longtime Cuomo critic, has called for him to be impeached, under the headline “CUOMO’S A PIG!” Some conservatives who defended Kavanaugh are now quick to assume that Cuomo is guilty.
But the liberal media precincts that are wary of the Cuomo situation should at least cover the story while digging for more information. The evidence of a double standard is unavoidable.
And if Lindsey Boylan goes on camera to take questions and make her case, the nothing-to-see-here approach will become untenable.