New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a Coronavirus Briefing

Andrew Cuomo Is Making a Weird (and Expensive!) Attempt at a Comeback

Who is this for??

Literally one day after former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned in disgrace last summer, people began talking about his potential “comeback.” It was definitely too soon then and now, six months later, it’s still way too soon. Mostly because I think the appropriate time for a Cuomo comeback is never but also because Cuomo has done exactly nothing to make amends for the things he was made to resign for in the first place.

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In fact, Cuomo’s entire attempt at a comeback—which he has, unfortunately, now launched in earnest—is based on denying he did anything wrong in the first place. Cuomo has a new ad campaign out, casting himself in the role of political hit job victim and according to the New York Times and the ad tracking firm AdImpact, he’s spent $369,000 to do it.

The ad, which began running this week on both broadcast and cable channels, features snippets of news coverage painting the picture that the investigation into his alleged misconduct was full of holes and ultimately insubstantial.

Many of the quick clips come from left-leaning news outlets and personalities, including Rachel Maddow, clearly trying to give the impression that even the “liberal media,” which had turned on Cuomo following the allegations made by 11 different women, is now admitting that the investigation into his behavior was a sham.

Except a discerning viewer might wonder why Cuomo’s team could only use seconds-long snippets of this coverage. Well, even a cursory look into the sources of the pull quotes used makes it clear that most of them don’t really support the narrative being put forward.

Like, for example, the quote from Maddow, which has her saying that prosecutors claimed: “the filings in this matter are potentially defective.” Looking at the transcript of the episode that brief quote is taken from, the story being discussed is much more complicated and involves a dispute between those prosecutors and a local sheriff, who was accused of improperly submitting evidence. It has nothing to do with the actual allegations against Cuomo.

The ad blasts this image onto the screen at one point:

Wow! Clearly, CBS News is admitting that there was witness tampering and perjury in the investigation into Cuomo, right? No, of course not. What that quote is referring to is an announcement from Cuomo’s lawyers that they’re planning to file a complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing her of those things.

Similarly, one of the quotes featured in the ad claims that the “district attorney cites ‘exculpatory evidence’ in Cuomo’s case. Big news if true! So why haven’t we heard what that evidence is? The article that quote comes from is from November of last year, surely it should have come out by now, right? (The “evidence” as mentioned in that article is also unnamed and comes from a footnote in a report.)

Those are just a few examples but they’re representative of the entire ad. Basically, Andrew Cuomo spent $369,000 to edit together misleading pull quotes.

Who is this for?

The big question here is why Cuomo would do this in the first place. The money apparently came from his still-active reelection campaign fund (which reportedly still held $16.4 million as of January), but he isn’t actively running for any office. (Not that he’s announced, anyway.)

So what is the point of a Cuomo comeback if he’s not running for office (and please let that be the case)? Is he just trying to repair his image? But again, for who?

The Daily Beast asks that question in their report on the ad: “So who is Cuomo’s audience?”

It’s not the press, which is fickle at best, and now without Cuomo’s most receptive helper, his brother Chris Cuomo—formerly of CNN but no longer there to assist Andrew in covering up sexual harassment allegations, screen questions, and smear the governor’s critics.

Is it New Yorkers, who are now bereft of his leadership? An October Marist poll showed 77 percent of adults did not want to see him run again, while he placed a distant second in a four-way race to his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The answer, if there is one, seems to be that this is just for himself, or possibly also for those who stood by him through all of this anyway.

“So glad to see the truth coming out! Andrew Cuomo is vindicated,” reads the top comment on the ad on Vimeo, as if “the truth” here weren’t already out. All of these quotes were pulled from mainstream media broadcasts and reports from the last six months. None of this is new, it’s just rearranged to make people like this commenter—and like Cuomo himself—feel “vindicated.”

If you remember Cuomo’s resignation, it and the months leading up to it came with a full play-by-play explanation about why he hadn’t actually done anything worth resigning over. He insisted he was the victim of “cancel culture.” He leaned in heavily to victim-blaming. He clearly hasn’t progressed past that narrative, but is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to make sure we’re still subjected to it.

(image: Al Bello/Getty Images)


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Author
Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.