ALBANY (WRGB) — Governor Cuomo has been shutting the media out of his events for months amid several high-profile scandals, but Friday there was a glimmer of hope that Cuomo's days of stonewalling reporters may be coming to an end.
It’s been exactly 137 days since Cuomo took a question from a reporter in-person. Since December, he's only been calling on select reporters via Zoom call, making it tough for journalists to get answers for our viewers on the plethora of issues that've come up during the pandemic.
MORE: When will Governor Cuomo allow media back in-person to his press events?
Finally on Friday, a newspaper reporter was able to press Gov. Cuomo on the issue and Cuomo said he *might* consider letting the media back in-person next week.
Newspaper reporter Kate Lisa, who writes for the Hudson Valley Register Star and the Daily Mail in Catskill, was able to challenge Cuomo on his choice to allow supporters into his recent press events but to ban reporters. She says it doesn't make sense, especially because reporters were allowed in-person to Cuomo's briefings during the height of the pandemic, and she points out, shying away from the media goes against Cuomo's own mantra of being ‘New York Tough.’
“I do think if you want to practice what you preach of being New York Tough, let’s start talking, let’s start having these tough conversations, we've got difficult things to discuss but New Yorkers deserve to have as much transparency as possible,” Lisa said.
Lisa’s questioning led to the first glimmer of a possible change regarding Cuomo’s briefings in months.
“He did say well we are going to do some outdoor events next week, and maybe the press will be able to come now that the weather is getting nicer, so that's looking up. I hope he follows through with that,” Lisa said.
MORE: Cuomo aide: Reporter was purposefully cut off during question on sexual harassment scandal
Reporters from major publications like the New York Times, the Associated Press and local outlets like WRGB and the Albany Times Union newspaper have not been allowed to ask a question of the governor since early December.
Earlier this week Cuomo's staff even got caught muting a reporter's microphone while the reporter was asking Cuomo a question about his sexual harassment scandal. That led to reporters across the state getting vocal about Cuomo's media stonewalling on Twitter.
Casey Seiler, Editor of the Albany Times Union, says Cuomo's media strategy has been obvious.
“They see no percentage in putting the governor in arenas like open news conferences or Q & A, where he would be confronted with questions that he does not want to answer,” Seiler said.
But he says the mistake with the mute button earlier this week blew the governor's cover.
“It had to be an embarrassing moment, because that very much was the electronic equivalent of pulling the lever on the trap door on somebody. It just became very obvious these things were being carefully stage-managed,” Seiler said.
So now we wait to see if Governor Cuomo will break his trend of banning the media.
WRGB’s Anne McCloy sent Cuomo’s office a list of questions to see if they will commit to allowing reporters in-person next week and whether they will give reporters a fair chance to get in a question, but we did not hear back by our deadline.