New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced widespread criticism Wednesday after he berated reporters for nearly six minutes after they asked whether New York City schools would be open Thursday.
Mr. Cuomo grew visibly irritated at the start of the Albany press briefing after Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind asked if New York City public schools would stay open amid the uptick in positive coronavirus cases and whether Mr. Cuomo had the authority to override city officials.
“So what’s going on?” the reporter asked. “Does the city still have the ability to close its schools? Are you now taking control and saying that you have the power to make this decision? And for the millions of parents who want to know: Are the schools gonna open tomorrow in New York City?”
Mr. Cuomo fired back, “All right, first of all, let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone, because you’re 100 percent wrong. These laws have all been in effect for months. … I don’t know if you were here or if you were paying attention.”
The governor explained that the “orange zone law” has been in place for over a month, and that the state is able to “override” school district rules in designated microcluster zones.
“‘What’s going on here?’” Mr. Cuomo said, mimicking the reporter. “If you were paying attention you would’ve known we closed the schools in New York City two weeks ago. Remember when we did an orange zone and a red zone in Brooklyn and Queens and we closed the schools? Don’t you remember that?”
“So what are you talking about?” he asked. “What are you talking about? ‘You’re now gonna override’ — we did it already! That’s the law — an orange zone and a red zone! Follow the facts!”
Mr. Vielkind replied, “I’m confused, and I think parents are still confused as well.
“No, they’re not confused. You’re confused,” the governor responded. “Read the law and you won’t be confused.”
Another reporter then came to Mr. Vielkind’s defense and asked the same question if the schools would be open Thursday in the city.
“That’s the question,” the reporter said. “I think Jimmy’s correct in asking that question. I don’t think it’s obnoxious at all.”
“Well, I don’t really care what you think. Of course you’ll agree with him because you’re in the same business with him,” Mr. Cuomo said before attempting to explain the rules again.
His comments came just before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced public schools would close starting Thursday.
Reporters blasted Mr. Cuomo for the exchange.
Gov. Cuomo just had a mental breakdown when a reporter simply asked a question about whether or not schools are open in NY tomorrow.— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) November 18, 2020
He literally started screaming at the reporter. pic.twitter.com/NBem5zpnK0
While @JimmyVielkind‘s “tone” is perhaps “obnoxious and offensive” at other times, he is a great reporter asking, in that moment, an important question that Cuomo just didn’t want to answer.— Scott Detrow (@scottdetrow) November 18, 2020
.@NYGovCuomo ought not lecture a reporter about his tone and then yell at him. Reporters ask questions, and the governor — who works for the people — should just provide answers. This was a shameful performance, in my opinion. #JustAnswerTheQuestionspic.twitter.com/U0AdQQ8nnq— Michael Wooten (@wgrzMichael) November 18, 2020
Great to see the governor belittling a reporter asking an honest question about whether NYC public schools will be open tomorrow. “They’re not confused. You’re confused,” Cuomo says of parents.— Bob Hardt (@bobhardt) November 18, 2020
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