One day after he announced that a statue of an Italian-American saint would be built in New York City in order to "keep the diversity positive," Governor Andrew Cuomo said the full n-word on live radio in response to a host's question about state Medicaid payments.
The governor's comments came during a long interview with one of his favorite interlocutors, WAMC's Alan Chartock. The two had moved on from several minutes discussing Columbus Day and negative stereotypes of Italian Americans, when Chartock asked Cuomo about a recent story in the New York Times. The story details how the state had raised Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals after the hospital association donated more than $1 million to the State Democratic Party's general housekeeping fund, which is controlled by the governor. The raise in rates, projected to cost around $140 million, came as the state had a $1.7 billion shortfall in its Medicaid budget, which was moved to next year's budget through what the article refers to as "a fiscal sleight of hand."
Chartock asked if this was "Kosher." The exchange can be heard around the 18-minute mark of the interview.
Ironically, Cuomo's use of the n-word came just minutes after he stressed the importance of apologizing after making an offensive remark. Specifically, he said that the NY Post should apologize for portraying his family as "the mafia godfather family" on the cover of the paper, and for the Albany Times Union to apologize for a nuanced op/ed suggesting he was wrong about Italian American stereotypes. (Those stories of course came after Chris Cuomo had to apologize for a video showing him screaming at trolls for referring to him as Fredo. "It’s like the N-word for us," the younger Cuomo said in the clip.)
"Look, I've said things that I didn't mean to offend someone but people found it offensive, and I said 'I'm sorry.' My brother the other day said something while he was doing a show, people found it offensive, he said 'I'm sorry,'" Cuomo said.
"It's so complex, this New York and these politics and ethnic politics and religious politics," he continued. "Yes, you say things, I've said things that were misinterpreted, or I didn't mean what you heard, right. OK. But acknowledge it, and move on."
The governor's office declined to comment on his use of the n-word, and referred questions about the $1.7 billion Medicaid budget trick to the Freeman Klopott, a spokesperson for the NYS Division of the Budget.
“The Governor was referring to a cash management process, which is not something that would be on his radar," Klopott said. "The core issue, as the Governor said, is that when costs increase we have to tighten our belts, and we are currently developing cost-saving measures that will be part of the Executive Budget in January.”
In his appearance, the governor dismissed any suggestion that the donations influenced his decision to increase Medicaid reimbursements.
"It was raining the other day and I went outside," Cuomo said, sarcastically. "I must always go outside when it rains. No."
This article initially stated that the increase in state Medicaid rates caused a $1.7 billion shortfall in the budget. In fact, the raise in rates, which is projected to cost $140 million, was done as the state had a $1.7 billion Medicaid budget shortfall. We've corrected this error, and also added a statement from the budget spokesperson.