How Cuomo answered a direct question about leaking to the ‘Times’

Fred Dicker watching Andrew Cuomo. (Matt Ryan via New York Now)
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Fred Dicker, whose reporting in the Post often features unnamed sources with knowledge of Andrew Cuomo's plans, asked the governor during a radio interview yesterday about whether a story in the rival New York Times yesterday was "a leak from your administration."

Cuomo tried avoiding saying the story was wrong, but, when pressed repeatedly, eventually said he doesn't understand how it could be said that his administration has a plan to allow hydrofracking when a final report about its safety isn't complete. Which was a criticism, but not a denial.

On a related note: Cuomo, who has long had a reputation for intense micromanagement of his press operation, said he used to read news stories and be bothered by them when he was younger. But, he said: "Now, I don't even read them.

Here's my transcription of the "leak" exchange:

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Cuomo: "…hydrofracking when it happens. If it happens."

Dicker: "But that's what the Times wrote about. Everybody seems to have accepted it. The Times has an editorial today based on that as a fact, and I'm trying to find [out] if that's a fact or not. The fact that that is your plan."

Cuomo: "Well if the Times editorial says it."

Dicker: "No, I'm asking if they got it right. Because they're saying, and the Times story yesterday was viewed by a lot of people as a leak from your administration, that maybe it was a trial balloon, that in fact this is what you're planning to do. And I'm just asking if in fact they're right that this is, should hydrofracking be found that it can be done safely, is it your plan to limit it to just certain counties?"

Cuomo: "If --"

Dicker: "And not others where people and communities would like to do it and where it could be done safely?"

Cuomo: "If you get past the first 'if,' which is the science, and you want to speculate ..."

Dicker: "The EPA says it can be done. And Joe Martens says it can be done, safely. So the chances are you're going to get past it, one would think."

Cuomo: "Then you run into two principles. The first principle is the principle of home rule and what is the state's relationship to the local government and how do you weigh home rule in this. Second, there is a practical context. You're going to go ahead. What does that mean? How many? How fast. How many in the first year?"

...

Cuomo: "I am, you'd have to, well first, I don't have a plan. I want to do the first step first. And then we'll address the second step."

Dicker: "So the story is inaccurate then? The claim that an insider says the plan is there to be put into effect should the DEC conclude it can be done safely is not true?"

Cuomo: "Well, I don't see how anybody could say an insider can say we haven't finished the first step but we have finished the second step…"

Dicker: "Were you disturbed-- just a final question on this. Were you disturbed at all by that story, because some people believe that there are some people within D.E.C. who may have leaked that claim that this first plan is already in existence in order to derail the second step."

Cuomo: "Fred, at one time in my life I got disturbed by stories, when I was young and I was impressionable. Now, I don't even read 'em. Hahaha … Literally, the reporters will say kiddingly, 'Well, it's, you've made it so boring we have to make stories.' No. This is the way it's supposed to be."

Dicker: "They weren't kidding governor, by the way."

Cuomo: "No, I know. Trust me, I know. I know. That's why I don't read them anymore…"