Dicker, now a Cuomo enemy, bridles at the Josh Vlasto treatment
In his column today, New York Post state editor Fred Dicker referred to Josh Vlasto, a top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo as an "increasingly notorious spokesman" who is "considered untrustworthy by many reporters."
In the column, Dicker accused Cuomo's office of leaking his planned story about a top aide's departure to a rival news outlet. This afternoon, the Associated Press reported that Vlasto released an email exchange he had with Dicker to ten other news outlets. (Headline on the AP story: "NY aide releases reporter's 'confidential' e-mail.")
I reached out to Vlasto, who said he did not release anything.
A reporter who received the email exchange forwarded me a copy of it.
"I never denied she was leaving. I, in fact, confirmed it," Vlasto wrote in the forwarded email to reporters.
Dicker was once very friendly with the governor and his press shop—he went so far as to mock reporters who complained about their access to the famously controlling governor—but now he's mad at them.
Dicker says his current complaint isn't that Vlasto denied that the aide was leaving, but that Vlasto leaked the story to a competitor. That accusation isn't addressed in the emails.
I wrote to Dicker and asked if he could elaborate on this latest conflict, and to explain the changes he was referring to when he mentioned the increasing notoriety of Vlasto.
"All I have to say," Dicker responded, "is that I give and expect professional conduct, which was not the case in the current situation. One of the fundamentals for a spokesperson is you don't take someone's exclusive and hand it to another journalist. That's why I wrote 'confidential inquiry' on my initial email."
Dicker also said Vlasto "created a totally false straw man by saying he 'never denied' [deputy secretary for public safety Liz] Glazer was leaving. Well, I never wrote that Vlasto did deny it, just that he handed my story to some one else."
Vlasto has long had an antagonistic relationship with the Albany press corps, since long before Dicker's issues with him, which didn't begin until this year.
Dicker used to be something of an official clearing house for Cuomo news, often attributed to high level administration officials, presumably speaking with the full blessing of the governor. Cuomo was a regular guest on Dicker's weekday radio show, often joking with Dicker and sometimes referring to their off-the-record conversations.
But the relationship with Dicker became strained when Cuomo began acting more conventionally liberal this year, advocating stricter gun control measures, more protections for abortion rights and refusing to make a definitive ruling on whether to allow hydrofracking in parts of the state.
Dicker's columns about Cuomo have grown increasingly unflattering; Cuomo stopped appearing on Dicker's show. A deal for Dicker to write a biography about Cuomo, with his participation, appears to be scuttled.
In April, Dicker publicly questioned Cuomo's trustworthiness, and suggested that he had been too trusting of the governor in the past.
"Sadly, the governor's office has not exactly earned a high level of appreciation for veracity for telling the truth," Dicker said on his radio show. "And I think some journalists have felt that for a long time. I may have been a little late in coming but I've come to recognize that too, sadly."