Andrew Cuomo lashed out at reporters during his Wednesday press briefing, scolding one journalist for what he called an ‘obnoxious’ and ‘offensive’ tone before telling another he ‘didn’t care’ what they thought.
Social media reacted quickly to make light of the terse exchange, comparing the New York Governor’s irate demeanour to that of actor Al Pacino.
Cuomo’s sign language interpreter, Arkady Belozovsky, meanwhile, was widely applauded for his stellar performance in perfectly conveying Cuomo’s ‘livid Sicilian sass’ with animated hand and facial gestures throughout the ordeal.
‘It’s kind of crazy how much Cuomo morphs into Al Pacino during this exchange,’ wrote journalist Stephen L. Miller, likening the scene to that of Pacino’s famed ‘You’re out of order’ speech from the 1979 movie, And Justice for All.
‘Ya’ll, watch the sign language interpreter while Cuomo goes off,’ Michelle Lehman added of Belozovsky. ‘That man looks like he’ll need a drink after this presser.’
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Andrew Cuomo lashed out at reporters during his Wednesday press briefing, scolding one journalist for what he called an ‘obnoxious’ and ‘offensive’ tone before telling another he ‘didn’t care’ what they thought
‘Ya’ll, watch the sign language interpreter while Cuomo goes off,’ Michelle Lehman said of Arkady Belozovsky. ‘That man looks like he’ll need a drink after this presser’
Cuomo’s ire was seemingly struck in Albany on Wednesday when veteran Wall Street Journal reporter Jimmy Vielkind asked the Governor whether New York City public schools would be staying open or closing on Thursday, amid rising COVID infections across the state.
‘Alright, first of all, let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone. Because you’re 100-percent wrong,’ Cuomo thundered in response to the inquiry.
The Governor then explained that schools in the Big Apple will move into a designated medium risk ‘orange’ zone and will then shutter if the city hits a 3 percent infection rate.
Vielkind responded: ‘Does the city have the ability to close its schools, are you now taking control saying you have the power to make this decision? And for the millions of parents who want to know — are the schools going to open tomorrow in New York City?’
A visibly aggrieved Cuomo then replied, in a drawn-out tone, that if the reporter ‘had been paying attention’ he’d be aware that ‘orange zone law’ has been in place for over a month.
‘Follow the facts,’ Cuomo then barked.
Vielkind responded that he was ‘still confused’ over whether schools would be closed tomorrow, adding that ‘parents are still confused as well.’
‘Well, then you’re confused,’ Cuomo protested. ‘No, they’re not confused, you’re confused.’
Social media reacted quickly to make light of the terse exchange, comparing the New York Governor’s irate demeanour to that of actor Al Pacino, and applauding his animated sign language interpreter for his stellar performance in perfectly conveying Cuomo’s ‘livid Sicilian sass’
Schools reporter for the New York Times Jesse McKinley then followed up on Vielkind’s question, asking Cuomo to definitively clarify whether schools will be open or not in NYC on Thursday.
‘The schools are open by state law,’ Cuomo railed, pointing to state data that shows New York City remains below a positivity rate of 3 percent – the threshold for closures – with a seven-day rolling average infection rate of 2.5 percent.
‘But will they [New York City schools] be open tomorrow? That’s the question. I think Jimmy’s correct in asking that question. I don’t think it’s obnoxious at all,’ McKinley responded.
Cuomo hit back: ‘Well, I don’t really care what you think. Of course, you agree with him because you’re in the same business with him.
‘The schools by state law — well, what is the answer to your question?’ Cuomo then asked McKinley, who responded that he didn’t know the answer.
‘Yes, you do,’ Cuomo then insisted.
While the frantic back and forth ended there, the drama spilled out on social media with hundreds taking to their keyboards to admonish Cuomo for his ‘meltdown’.
‘Gov. Cuomo just had a mental breakdown when a reporter simply asked a question about whether or not schools are open in NY tomorrow. He literally started screaming at the reporter,’ filmmaker Caleb Hull wrote, attaching a clip of the exchange.
‘Cuomo is being incredibly condescending and rude for someone who wrote a book about how well he managed the pandemic before It was over,’ added David Mack.
While critique for Cuomo flooded in thick-and-fast, praise for his sign language translator, Arkady Belozovsky, flooded in in equal measure
While critique for Cuomo came in thick-and-fast, praise for his sign language translator, Arkady Belozovsky, flooded in in equal measure.
Throughout the near-three minute spar, Belozovsky was seen signing animatedly in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, perfectly conveying Cuomo’s enraged tone.
Some viewers credited Belozovsky with having done such a good job that they, despite not knowing sign language, didn’t even need to turn the sound on their screens to understand what was going on.
‘I watched this one mute and can tell by the sign language interpreter that [Cuomo] probably needs to change his tone,’ wrote comedian Dana Goldberg.
Similarly, in response to journalist Robby Soave’s claims that Cuomo hadn’t ‘handled matters well’, one user responded: ‘One could simply turn the sound down and watch the sign language to know that Cuomo is not, in fact, handling this well.’
Gawrsh Sora also noted: ‘I watched it on mute and i must say the sign language translator did a bang up job conveying Cuomo’s livid Sicilian sass. I don’t even know sign language but i got the message loud and clear.’
Others suggested Belozovsky ‘deserves a raise’ for his stellar portrayal of just ‘how disrespectful Cuomo was being’, while some pointed out that he shared a likeness with comedian Bill Burr.
Belozovsky wasn’t alone in earning himself a celebrity likeness, with Cuomo himself drawing comparisons to a vast range of Al Pacino characters, from Detective Frank Serpico to Michael Corleone.
‘Cuomo went from Al Pacino in The Irishman, to Al Pacino in City Hall but quick,’ wrote Bradley Milne.
William Resh insisted that Cuomo’s comments, ‘they’re not confused, you’re confused,’ seemed a ‘pretty solid’ impression of Al Pacino in And Justice for All, in which he famous quipped: ‘You’re out of order, this whole courtroom is out of order.’
Angus Kirk, meanwhile, wrote: ‘You know Cuomo practices his Pacino impression in front of a mirror every night’, accompanied with an image of Al Pacino in Scent of Woman and the quote: ‘I’m just getting warmed up.’
While Cuomo’s briefing ended with no further clarity on whether public schools in New York City will be open on Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that they will indeed be closing after the Big Apple’s test positivity rate hit the three percent threshold.
The earliest they could reopen, he said, was the week after Thanksgiving but he would not be drawn on specifics.
‘No one is happy about this decision,’ de Blasio said. ‘We are all feeling very sad about this decision.’
The positivity rate in schools is only 0.19 percent but de Blasio said he was sticking to 3 percent citywide threshold because that’s what he decided earlier this year.
De Blasio also went on to say that more restrictions were ‘coming’ to New York City and ‘coming soon.’