'Getting all Al Pacino': New York Gov. Cuomo explodes at reporter asking about school shutdown
"Well, I don’t really care what you think."
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo yelled at a reporter during his daily COVID-19 briefing when asked about this week's school closures.
The fireworks began when Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind asked Wednesday about closures, saying, "What’s going on? 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 want to know, are the schools going to open tomorrow in New York City?"
"Let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone," the Democratic governor fired back. "Because you’re 100% wrong, these laws have all been in effect for months. I’ve always said we set initial parameters, and then the school district picked a percent within those parameters. New York City picked 3%. We announced the orange zone law over a month ago."
"I don’t know if you were here or if you were paying attention, but that has been in effect for over a month. It always said, if by the state’s numbers, you hit 3%, the schools close. What’s going on here, is nothing that the law hasn’t said for over a month," Cuomo said. "We then had to test out procedures. If you were paying attention, you would have 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 close the schools? Don’t you remember that?"
Vielkind said, "It was three weeks ago."
Here's the rest of the fiery exchange, courtesy of Real Clear Politics:
CUOMO: OK. So what are you talking about? What are you talking about? “You’re now going to override?” We did it already. That’s the law. An orange zone and a red zone. Follow the facts.
VIELKIND: I’m just still confused.
CUOMO: Well then you’re confused.
VIELKIND: I’m confused, tenants are still confused as well. The schools –
CUOMO: They’re not confused, you’re confused.
VIELKIND: No, I think parents are confused as well.
CUOMO: Read the law and you won’t be confused.
Then another reporter jumped in.
REPORTER #2: So governor, to follow Jim’s question, are the schools going to be open tomorrow?
CUOMO: The schools are open by state law.
REPORTER #2: That’s the question. I think he’s correct in asking that question. I don’t think it’s obnoxious at all.
CUOMO: Well, I don’t really care what you think. Of course, you agree with him because you’re in the same business with him. The schools are open by state law. Well, what is the answer to your question? What is the answer to your question?
REPORTER #2: I don’t know what the answer is.
CUOMO: Yes you do. When does the state close the schools?
REPORTER #2: When you get to an orange zone, which you’re suggesting could happen, but it’s not necessarily happening by tomorrow.
CUOMO: So then what are you asking? You just answered your own question.
Social media lit up after the angry governor exploded.
"It’s kind of crazy how much Cuomo morphs into Al Pacino during this exchange," journalist Stephen L. Miller wrote on Twitter. He likened the scene to that of Pacino’s famed "You’re out of order" speech from the 1979 movie "And Justice for All."
"Gov. Cuomo just had a mental breakdown when a reporter simply asked a question about whether or not schools are open in NY tomorrow. He literally started screaming at the reporter," filmmaker Caleb Hull wrote, attaching a clip of the exchange.
"Cuomo is being incredibly condescending and rude for someone who wrote a book about how well he managed the pandemic before It was over," added David Mack.