Less than a week ago, the New York Times endorsed incumbent governor Andrew Cuomo in his reelection campaign ahead of his primary against progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon. Now, they’ve put out another Editorial Board op-ed condemning him for aggressive smears against her campaign.
The Times’ endorsement of Cuomo acknowledged many of the failings that have driven New Yorkers to support an underdog campaign, though it concluded that he was the best suited to take on corrupt Albany politicians, who he’s uh, very familiar with. The op-ed argued that Nixon’s campaign has pushed Cuomo to the left, but seemed to believe that was the best possible outcome.
Today, the Times changed their tune, after reports emerged that the New York State Democratic Committee sent out a mailer alleging that Cynthia Nixon was “silent on the rise of anti-Semitism.” The mailer accused her of supporting the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and of opposing funding private Jewish schools in the state. Neither of those claims are true.
Geoff Berman, the executive director of the State Democratic Committee, called the mailer “a mistake and is inappropriate and is not the tone the Democratic Party should set.”
“This is dirty politics, nearly as sleazy as it gets,” the Times wrote. “This is the lowest form of politics, and the most dangerous, exploiting the festering wounds and fears along ethnic and religious lines.”
Pretty harsh for a paper that just called the same guy “a very capable governor.”
Not only does the op-ed condemn the Cuomo campaign’s fear mongering, it also pins the blame directly on the candidate. After the mailer came to light this weekend, Cuomo denied knowledge of it. “I didn’t know about the mailer,” he said in a news conference earlier today. “I haven’t seen the mailer.”
The Times shot back in scathing language:
Sorry, Mr. Cuomo, but that strains credulity.
Mr. Cuomo dominates the state Democratic Party. It acts ethically or abominably at his direction, or at the very least, with his campaign’s blessing.
The committee no doubt sent this garbage in the cynical hope that it would prove effective with Orthodox Jews, who generally vote as a bloc, making them a sought-after constituency for New York politicians.
Damn, New York Times, you almost sound like us!
The column ends with a typically wishy-washy threat encouraging Democrats to vote for “reform-driven candidates,” and warning Cuomo that if he doesn’t clean up his act, he might mess up his chance to secure a third term. But it stops short of coming out and telling the paper’s readers to vote for Nixon.
Though it’s fun to see the Times shitting on powerful establishment politicians and calling their campaign materials “garbage,” this column is largely an exercise in ass-covering. The paper’s original endorsement of Cuomo should have never happened. This behavior from his campaign is, if anything, completely consistent with the governor who New Yorkers have become familiar with over the last seven years. The guy who ruined the subway, led a corrupt administration, and could have killed people by pushing through a premature bridge opening.
Cuomo sucks just as much now as he always has. If the Times had been honest about his failures in the first place, their backpedaling op-ed wouldn’t have been necessary.