While speaking to reporters on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked by NPR’s Karen Dewitt about possible changes that his government might make to its sexual harassment policies in light of the numerous post-Weinstein revelations that have come out in industries across the board.
The question was not purely academic. Sam Hoyt, the former head of New York’s regional economic development agency, resigned in October amid a sexual harassment investigation. As The Buffalo News reported, Hoyt “paid $50,000 last year to silence a former state employee pursuing official complaints that he attempted to continue a budding romantic relationship that she wished to end.” The woman also claimed that she had lodged complaints with the state ethics agency and Cuomo’s office. (According to Politico, “a spokeswoman for Cuomo said at least three state agencies reviewed the complaint against Hoyt, but no action was taken.”)
Questioned about this, Cuomo got extremely testy. He refused to name one thing that his administration will do differently to address workplace sexual harassment. Instead, he decided to explain to a female reporter—“with all due respect” of course—how sexual harassment is a “societal” problem. He also told Dewitt that her question was a “disservice to women,” adding, “with all due respect, even though you’re a woman.” Yes, really.
The transcript is below, but it’s worth watching the video too.
Dewitt: You did have it going on within your own administration allegedly with Sam Hoyt. What could you do differently to kind of pick up on that?
Cuomo: Well look you have it going on in journalism.
Dewitt: I know.
Cuomo: What are you going to do differently?
Dewitt: It’s about state government, I could tell you later in great detail about that if you’re interested—
Cuomo: No. It’s about you. And journalism. And it’s about you and journalism. And it’s about state government. And it’s about carpentry. And it’s about trade forces.
Dewitt: Is your administration going to do anything differently?
Cuomo: We’ll have policies in state government obviously, that affects state government, but I think you miss the point. When you say it’s state government, you do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you’re a woman. It’s not government; it’s society. It was Harvey Weinstein in the arts industry, it’s comedians, it’s politicians, it’s chefs, right? It’s systemic, it’s societal, it’s not one person in one area. It’s not just Charlie Rose, right? It’s not just Matt Lauer, it’s not just journalists, it’s societal. Understand the breadth of the problem.
Dewitt: I understand. But can you just name one thing?