Cuomo promotes Josh Vlasto, an often intense adversary of the Albany press corps
The news today that Josh Vlasto, Andrew Cuomo's press secretary for the past several years, has been promoted to chief of staff was big for reporters who cover the Governor.
From the New York Times:
The spokesman, Josh Vlasto, whose title has been deputy communications director, will assume a title that was last held by Benjamin M. Lawsky, whom the governor named in 2011 to be the superintendent of the newly created Department of Financial Services. As chief of staff, Mr. Vlasto will be a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, working on communications, politics and policy; the administration did not say what he would be paid, but his current annual salary is $135,000.
Mr. Vlasto, 31, will report to Lawrence S. Schwartz, who, as secretary to the governor, is the top-ranking aide in the governor’s office.
The Times piece doesn't go into any detail about Vlasto's reputation among Albany reporters, who know him for, among other things, his aggressive attempts to manage the governor's image and the angry phone calls they receive from him when he perceives them to have been uncharitable.
Vlasto told me when I wrote about his tempestuous relationship with the media a year and a half ago: "I respect aggressive reporters and they should respect aggressive spokespeople."
Capital published that piece after Vlasto launched public and in some cases inaccurate attacks on reporters who cover Cuomo. There was Vlasto's accusation, for instance, that the Associated Press had "fabricated" a story, and that a Wall Street Journal scoop was "bogus."
Here's more from my earlier piece:
The episode was an illustration of how wide the gulf between the governor's office and the media that cover it has become: Both that the governor's spokesman should use such extreme terms to characterize the reporting of a well-credentialed and respected news organization and that his strenuous objections did not give pause to the editors of the newspaper in publishing [the article].
The Cuomo administration's interactions with the people who cover it have been a topic of interest in recent weeks. The list of gripes Albany reporters have aired lately includes tightly controlled access to the governor, unavailability of public records to reporters and what they say is the sanitization of the governor's schedule.
But they have in particular objected to what they perceive as Vlasto's slurs on their ethics or professionalism, employed they believe to knock down stories ad hominem, and often, they have argued, when Cuomo's office must have known the stories were substantially true.