Mon. May 23rd, 2022

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Andrew Cuomo and #MeToo

6 min read

Around lunchtime on Tuesday, Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, was tied up on the phone with her mother, assisting her with household logistics. All week, Burke had been keeping an eye on the fallout from a report by the New York attorney general that found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had harassed nearly a dozen women. But Cuomo had vowed to remain in office, and like most observers, Burke thought he would fight to the death.

Suddenly, Burke’s mother yelled into the phone: “He stepped down!”

Cuomo had announced that he would resign as governor, soon vacating the office he has held for the past 10 years.

With that, the story changed, for Burke and for everyone else.

Until Tuesday, the Cuomo story was in large part about what was not changing — the durability of sexual harassment and the difficulty of addressing it. He allegedly targeted women even as a global reckoning played out under his nose. Two summers ago, Cuomo signed sweeping new protections for women in New York. The next day, he resumed his unwelcome pursuit of a female state trooper, the attorney general’s report said.

Even in the past few years, the highest office in the state seemed like a throwback, according to the report, with unclear pathways for conveying complaints and widespread fear of retaliation. That fear turned out to be founded: After his first accuser, Lindsey Boylan, spoke out in February, his office tried to tarnish her. As more women came forward, Cuomo’s public posture was mostly dismissive, and it wasn’t clear how much New Yorkers cared, either.

Even his resignation speech was somewhat grudging, and he called the investigation biased. “In my mind, I’ve never crossed the line with anyone, but I didn’t realize the extent to which the line has been redrawn,” Cuomo said yesterday. “There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate.”

But now the Cuomo story demonstrates the durability of the movement. Nearly four years after the revelations about Harvey Weinstein set off a global reckoning — with #MeToo still blazing through the worlds of business, entertainment and sports — a group of mostly young women brought a three-term governor, and heir to a political dynasty, to account.

“I don’t know that we’ve had someone of this prominence step down,” Burke said.

Among the now-vast array of public #MeToo scandals, the political ones are often the most consequential — because of the stakes and symbolism involved — but also the most tortured, because they become so partisan, and often defy neat endings.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings turned into war. Democrats are still arguing over whether former Senator Al Franken should have resigned. Though a long line of women have accused Donald Trump of sexual misconduct, those claims seem unlikely to ever reach resolution. Against that backdrop, the Cuomo story stands out because of the consensus among elected Democratic leaders that he could not remain in office.

In New York, what helped make the difference between one outcome and another was the attorney general’s investigation — the kind of painstaking examination that these situations require but almost never get.

“This is what we’ve been asking for,” Anita Hill said in an interview, speaking almost 30 years after she introduced the concept of sexual harassment to many Americans by testifying against Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. “We should be looking at this as a model.”

Jodi Kantor is an investigative reporter for The Times who shared a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct.

For more:

“There was nothing to hold on to”: Here’s what happened in the days before Cuomo’s resignation.

Kathy Hochul, New York’s lieutenant governor, will take Cuomo’s place. Here’s her background.

Listen to today’s episode of “The Daily.”

THE LATEST NEWS

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The Senate passed President Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill, with 19 Republicans voting in favor. It now heads to the House.

“We can still come together to do big things, important things, for the American people,” Biden said.

Here’s what’s in the bill.

The Senate also approved a $3.5 trillion budget plan along party lines that would fund climate, education and health care policies.

The Virus

YouTube suspended Senator Rand Paul and Twitter suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for spreading misinformation.

Oregon will restore a statewide mask mandate.

Germany will stop offering free Covid tests to adults who choose not to get vaccinated.

See data from 40 states about breakthrough infections.

International

Taliban fighters took control of three more provincial capitals in Afghanistan. Afghan security forces have lost nine cities in a week.

President Jair Bolsonaro is attacking Brazil’s electoral system as polls show him behind in next year’s election.

Lionel Messi was greeted with cheers at his new soccer club, Paris St.-Germain. He wasn’t “able to resist the economic forces that carry the game along,” The Times’s Rory Smith writes.

Other Big Stories

Dominion Voting Systems sued Newsmax and One America News, accusing the right-wing networks of spreading disinformation about the 2020 election.

Texas Republicans authorized the potential arrest of the Democratic representatives who left the state to block a voting bill.

Newark, N.J., has replaced nearly all its 23,000 lead water lines, two years after a warning from the E.P.A.

Opinions

Sunshine built California. Farhad Manjoo asks what happens when it turns vengeful.

Professional caregivers have always been essential workers, Dr. Lynn Hallarman writes.

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ARTS AND IDEAS

The endless pleasures of vegetarian cooking

The world of vegetarian cooking is vast — and a growing number of people are incorporating it into their diets, whether for ethical reasons, health, sustainability or just a love of greens.

A new newsletter by Tejal Rao, the California restaurant critic at The Times, will celebrate vegetables. “I don’t know exactly when my appetite became so intensely focused on vegetarian foods in my own kitchen. It happened slowly, then all at once, like a custard thickening on the stovetop,” she writes. “I revised my food shopping, and my home cooking followed.”

The Veggie, which starts tomorrow, promises to be full of traditional dishes, everyday meals and fun experiments. You can sign up for the first edition here. — Sanam Yar, a Morning writer

PLAY, WATCH, EAT

What to Cook

This roasted broccoli is crisp and creamy.

What to Read

Rita Dove’s latest collection of poems, “Playlist for the Apocalypse,” is about this “shining, blistered republic” and her own health troubles.

World Through a Lens

Each year, thousands gather in the Peruvian town of Santo Tomás, dressed in elaborate costumes, ready to fistfight.

Late Night

The hosts discussed Cuomo.

Now Time to Play

The pangram from yesterday’s Spelling Bee was dazzling. Here is today’s puzzle — or you can play online.

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Weep (three letters).

If you’re in the mood to play more, find all our games here.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.

P.S. A hidden haiku from a Times story about swimming with a manta ray in Hawaii: “I tried to race it / and lost, giddy and full of / awe at the sighting.”

A correction: In yesterday’s newsletter, the caption under the top photo gave the wrong location for a shuttered mall in Arizona. It’s in Phoenix, not Glendale.

Here’s today’s print front page.

On “The Argument,” a debate about workplace diversity programs.

Claire Moses, Ian Prasad Philbrick, Tom Wright-Piersanti and Sanam Yar contributed to The Morning. You can reach the team at themorning@nytimes.com.

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