Earlier this week New York Times Albany correspondent Nick Confessore wrote a largely laudatory piece about Andrew Cuomo’s first six months in office in which he chided the governor for shying away from interviews “save for occasional calls to a local radio talk show that offered him gentle colloquy.”
That was a reference, of course, to Albany uber-correspondent Fred Dicker, the host of a radio talk show which frequently hosts the governor.
And the State Capitol hath no fury like a Dicker scorned.
“Are you all set for a gentle colloquy?” he asked Cuomo to kick things off this morning.
“Yeah, that’s the first word that comes to my mind when I’m thinking of you–gentle,” Cuomo responded with a laugh.
Dicker proceeded to bring his listeners up to speed.
“That was a reference to a New York Times piece a couple of days ago that sought to assess why the governor was so successful this year. They conceded that, but then they went on to be very critical and claim among other things you didn’t really give interviews, except occasionally you would appear on a radio show for a gentle colloquy…
I don’t mind the word colloquy. I think that’s appropriate. But I think if they consider serious questions in a civil manner, in a lengthy discussion about serious issues to be gentle, that’s an interesting re-definition of the word in my judgment, because there is nothing soft it seems to be about the interviews I’ve been having with you, occasionally, and I think you would agree with that…
Cuomo did, in fact, agree with that.
“It’s all a re-definition, Fred,” he said. ”Now for the rest of your career you will be known as the gentle Fred Dicker.”
Dicker then took issue with Confessore’s assertion that “Cuomo cloaked the day-to-day workings of government in far more secrecy than did other recent governors.”
“Firstly,” he said I would note and I would compliment you for opening up the Hall of Governors and the governor’s office on the second floor…It’s allowed the press to do something that neither Governors Pataki, Paterson or Spitzer did, actually walk on the second floor.”
And Cuomo responded in kind.
“Obviously Fred there is no factual basis,” he said. “Frankly, there is no factual basis to call you gentle.”
The rest of the interview was conducted in a similar vein, with Dicker asking Cuomo about recent staff appointments, about some of labor negotiations, and about how he would fix New York’s economy.
“I hoped to give you time to talk about your agenda. You’ve accomplished so much in the view of virtually everybody,” Dicker said at the show’s conclusion. “But we are out of time. So maybe I can invite you back some time to discuss that.”
And he couldn’t resist one final dig before signing off:
“Thank you very much governor. It was a very interesting, gentle colloquy.”
You can listen to the whole thing below. In the meantime–is this another round in a Times/News Corp feud?