2:00 pm Feb. 7, 20131
Last night, during the 10 p.m. hour on MSNBC, Lawrence O'Donnell offered a long paean to Mario Cuomo for maintaining an unpopular stance in opposition to the death penalty even as his 1994 re-election campaign was slipping away from him.
Then O'Donnell compared that act of self-sacrifice to Andrew Cuomo's recent push for new gun laws in New York.
"Now there is another Governor Cuomo in Albany with the political bravery to do the right thing, on gun and ammunition control, knowing that it hurts him politically," said O'Donnell, who was an aide to the late New York senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan during the time Mario served as governor. "And us Cuomo-watchers are not surprised."
O'Donnell cited a Quinnipiac poll that showed a 15 percent decrease in Cuomo's approval rating after he pushed a new package of gun laws, which Cuomo preemptively blamed for the drop. A subsequent Siena poll showed New York voters supporting the package of laws by a margin of two to one.
"I was pleased," Cuomo said of O'Donnell's recognition, in a radio interview this morning with Susan Arbetter. "I was more pleased frankly with his comments about my father, recognizing his political courage."
It hadn't been all good news for Cuomo recently on MSNBC, whose liberal viewership will constitute an important subset of Democratic primary voters in 2016.
In November, Cuomo came under withering criticism from Chris Hayes, the host of "Up With Chris," when the governor and likely presidential candidate refused to help Democrats secure power in the State Senate, which resulted in a coalition government that empowered Republicans and a small group of breakaway Democrats.
Hayes called him a "supposedly Democratic governor," who was trying "to burnish his bipartisan, compromiser bona fides before launching his presidential campaign," and asked his viewers to remember the moment.
"We’re almost entirely sure that, very soon, Andrew Cuomo will be coming before many of the people watching this show, asking for your support in a Democratic primary race to be the next president," Hayes said. "You should remember this remarkably cynical display when he does.”
Hayes' two-hour show, which airs early on Saturday and Sunday mornings, has developed a loyal following among young liberals. His sentiments were reflected by a number of influential progressives online. Cuomo shrugged off the controversy as a function of "hyperpartisan" grousing.
Among MSNBC's primetime hosts, whose audience is an order of magniture larger than that of Hayes, Cuomo seems to be in good standing, despite his general avoidance of national television. (The network averages just under a million viewers across its weekday primetime line-up, or about three times what Hayes draws on the weekend mornings.)
After Hurricane Sandy, when Cuomo did some national press to talk about the storm's devastating effects, Cuomo made time for Rachel Maddow, who happens to be the network's most popular host, averaging over one million viewers, to talk about the need to address climate change.
Al Sharpton, the New York fixture who hosts the 5 p.m. hour and has a long history with the governor, declined to endorse Hayes' position on Cuomo, saying it was a "distraction" to argue about the governor in the context of the State Senate, even after expressing concerns himself about the power-sharing deal.
When Cuomo appeared at Sharpton's House of Justice last month for a Martin Luther King Day celebration, Sharpton said his new gun laws were "a model for governors and states all over this country."
On "The Ed Show," Ed Schultz covered Cuomo's State of the State address and his subsequent gun control reforms, calling them "the most comprehensive yet," and saying the governor "understands you cannot solve a problem" without addressing the "root cause."
"Hardball" host Chris Matthews, like O'Donnell, held him up this weekend as someone taking on the gun lobby.
"I read the other day Cuomo's numbers have crumbled pretty much on that one issue in New York State," he said on his morning "Chris Matthews Show," going on to ask, "Is anybody safe from the N.R.A.?"
If your answer is "Andrew Cuomo," you're probably right.