New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) was unapologetic Thursday after he made a joke about the anti-sexual harassment and sexual assault #MeToo movement.
Speaking to reporters outside his Albany office Wednesday, Cuomo asked them to back off and give him space. "I'll bring you up on charges under the #MeToo movement," he joked.
The reaction on the scene, per one reporter in the scrum, was "a few nervous chuckles and silent astonishment." But it wasn't long before Cuomo was criticized for the joke. "Just when you thought New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo couldn’t get any worse, he did!" wrote Splinter‘s Samantha Grasso.
"The remark raises several questions — first of all: Excuse me?" wrote Opheli Garcia Lawler for the New Yorker. "But also: Why would someone make light of sexual assault and harassment, especially in a room filled with people bearing recording devices?"
The liberal tabloid New York Daily News noted that Cuomo made the joke on a "historic day for female politicians in New York," shortly after Andrea Stewart-Cousins was sworn in as New York's first female state Senate majority leader.
When asked about the joke the following day, Cuomo defended his remark, saying his "anatomy" was under assault by the mass of reporters.
"I think it was an offhand comment," he told WAMC host Alan Chartock. "You know, I walked out into the highway and I was assaulted by the gaggle and pieces of equipment hitting me and all sorts of my anatomy."
"It was an offhand comment just to get them to move back. You know, the physical assault was overwhelming. But it was just an offhand comment," he said.