Governor Andrew Cuomo took issue Wednesday when a woman reporter asked him what concrete steps he was taking to combat sexual harassment in state government, lecturing her that the question was too narrowly focused.
"I think you miss the point when you say it's state government," the governor said. "You do a disservice to women, with all due respect, even though you're a woman. It's not government. It's society."
Cuomo hinted at proposals he has planned for the State of the State to combat harassment, but would not reveal them.
By the end of the day, the governor held a conference call to clarify his response.
"My point was we are going to have a comprehensive package addressing sexual harassment," Cuomo said. "Obviously, part of it will be addressing sexual harassment with government officials. But that is only the tip of the iceberg."
But it's not an academic issue for Cuomo or state government. In October, former top economic development official Sam Hoyt left the Cuomo administration after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him. Hoyt is a former assemblyman who was admonished while in office for having a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old intern. Despite knowing about that, Cuomo insisted hiring Hoyt was not a mistake.
"No, I don't think so. I think what he did was wrong. I don't think it was a mistake to hire him," Cuomo said.
Sexual harassment accusations have been leveled against a variety of powerful men in recent weeks, forcing them out of jobs in the media, entertainment and in politics. But Cuomo would not say whether he agrees with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand on whether President Donald Trump should resign because of sexual harassment and assault allegations first made against him last year.
"I agree with the thrust of the senator's comments, because it is bigger, frankly, than just the president," Cuomo said. "Women have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse. They have been."
Cuomo hinted at one proposal that would require publicly traded companies to reveal sexual harassment settlements to their shareholders.