The way the Moreland story took hold nationally following the bombshell Times piece may be of particular concern to Cuomo because the bad press fills something of a vacuum—while the governor is unusually energetic in his attempts to manage local press coverage, he has rarely engaged the national media since taking office, citing a desire to stay out of presidential speculation.
He’s given a handful of interviews on major news networks, mostly in the immediate aftermath of the New York area’s two recent major storms, Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, and he gave select interviews to a few favored publications after he presided over a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in 2011. (In January 2013, he gave an exclusive interview to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow for Gotham magazine, a glossy publication where his sister-in-law Cristina Cuomo was once the editor in chief.) But those few instances have all been situations in which Cuomo was almost assured of uncritical, if not gushing, coverage.
Facing this potentially governorship-defining scandal, Cuomo has so far stuck to the strategy, holding a press conference in Buffalo with late notice to the press, and otherwise preferring to try and influence the coverage from behind the scenes.
Mocked on The Daily Show, mocked on The Morning Joe Clown Show - not exactly the re-election rollout Cuomo wanted.
And what does Cuomo do to try and change the trajectory of the coverage?
Why, make a phonecall and attempt to influence the story behind the scenes:
After a particularly brutal ten-minute segment on "Morning Joe" on Monday, in which Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough cited the details of a dead-to-rights Times investigation to compare Cuomo unfavorably to scandal-damaged New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Cuomo called Brzezinski privately to explain his side of the story, according to the co-host.
"I spoke to Governor Cuomo—most of it was off the record—last night about this, cause he saw our conversation—our heated conversation here on the show," said Brzezinski on Tuesday morning.
She said she was not swayed by the governor's rationale for not addressing the issue more publicly.
"I'd love for him to come on," she said. "It's one thing to do a press conference really far away, and I understand, and we talked about the different reasons why he doesn't really want to do a lot of interviews right now. But I'm wondering if he should, and if it would help a lot because it does seem incredibly defensive. I even was sort of pushing back, saying don't you understand what this looks like?"
This strategy of stage-managing coverage has worked well for Cuomo in New York so far - but it surely isn't going to work well on a national stage.
Mark Halperin told his fellow clowns on The Morning Joe Clown Show on Monday that the worst part about the coverage of this story for Cuomo is that it seems the national press doesn't take him very seriously as a 2016 candidate.
Halperin's point was, if this had been Christie, the national press would have been all over it.
Pretty much chuckles and a little mockery and that's about it.
I think Halperin makes a good point there and I think there's even a bigger point to make here.
Cuomo's press strategy post-NY Times/Moreland story suggests he shouldn't be taken seriously as a White House contender.
Does Cuomo really think he's going to be able to bully a national press corps on the phone/behind the scenes the way he does with some in New York?
Didn't seem to work well with Mika Brzezinski.
She went public with it instead.
Hard to see going forward how that strategy works nationally.
Have to wonder, did Cuomo call Jon Stewart to "explain" his side of the story as well?
And if so, will Stewart mock him for that too?