By HANNAH BLEAU
Journalist Morgan Pehme alleged Governor Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) office “terrorized” him for investigating his administration, according to an op-ed published Monday.
Pehme — a documentary producer known for co-directing Netflix’s Get Me Roger Stone — said he received a threatening call from Cuomo deputy Melissa DeRosa at 4:30 AM:
While the April 2014 call I received from DeRosa didn’t come directly from the governor, I knew it bore the full weight of his power. City & State, the New York politics magazine I edited at the time, was about to publish a story exposing Cuomo’s machinations to distort the final report issued by the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
Pehme said he received a “barrage of calls” as Cuomo’s media handlers” who vigorously “pushed me to spike the article, alternately approaching me with carrot (a hot exclusive to be named later) and stick.”
“Seven years later, I don’t recall precisely everything DeRosa hurled at me, though I’m positive she vowed to ‘destroy’ my career and take revenge on my publication. I remember vividly how I felt: scared,” Pehme said, adding that he had “no reason to think these were idle threats” as he was aware of Cuomo’s infamous “volcanic temper and track record of vindictiveness.”
He described the situation as a “gut check,” as he feared he could lose everything — but pressed on and published the piece. He said that is not always the case with other journalists and media outlets that see “editors kill legitimate stories because of his threats.”
“Reporters shy away from promising tips; sources stay silent,” he said, contending that members of the media are aware of Cuomo’s bullying tactics but shy away from exposing hit for a number of reasons — from fear to dismissal.
“Until last week, most New Yorkers didn’t know about Cuomo’s despicable ways. But they should have,” he concluded, calling on journalists to expose Cuomo and tell their stories.
The Cuomo administration has come under fire in recent weeks for allegedly covering up the number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York nursing homes out of fears of a federal investigation.
DeRosa reportedly made the admission during a call with Democrat legislators, apologizing for putting them in an unfair position. In the days following, New York Assemblyman Ron Kim, a Queens Democrat who has been critical of the governor, said Cuomo directly threatened to “destroy” him if he did not defend the administration amid the nursing home fallout.
Kim is calling for the governor to be impeached.
“We need to check this governor. … And I think the only option that we have as the Assembly body is the exercise of impeachment,” he said during an appearance on The Hill’s Rising.
“And by the way, we have a duty, a constitutional duty, when there’s willful, corrupt conduct to — we are obligated to pursue impeachment. And that he clearly has done,” Kim said, urging officials to move forward “as soon as possible.”