Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 08/09/21

Cuomo accuser Brittany Commisso breaks her silence to detail groping allegations and says the governor is lying. In a damning report released last week by New York State Attorney General Letitia James, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is accused of sexually harassing 11 women. In an exclusive interview with “CBS This Morning” and the Times Union, one of those women, previously known only as Executive Assistant #1 is breaking her silence. More at CBSNews.com.

What a difference a year makes. I can’t help but suspect this CBS Sunday Morning Cuomo interview from last June will never see the light of day on the network again. It gets particularly cringe-worthy at the 7:59 mark when a fawning Jane Pauley gleefully gushes for the ladies out there that “He’s unattached now!” Check it out before it’s stashed even deeper in the corporate memory hole.

IMHO: Let me say right off the bat that, as an observer, I tend to believe Cuomo’s accusers. Their charges certainly comport with my general gut feelings about the guy. I’ve long thought of him as a creep and a bully. But, as someone who believes that traditional standards of journalism and not gut feelings should carry the day, I’m a more than a little uncomfortable with so-called news reporters who clearly place their thumbs on the scale to impact public opinion.

Unfortunately, we’re living in an era where “credibly accused” has supplanted “innocent until proven guilty” as a legal standard in the minds of too many of us. Opinion journalists are one thing (and even we should make some attempt to be fair) but society needs news reporters to drop the loaded and biased adjectives and to serve as a buffer against the natural instincts we all have to draw conclusions based on whether or not we like someone or agree with them – or they are useful to us – politically.

In Cuomo’s case, the pendulum has swung from one extreme of virtual adoration to another of burn him at the stake and worry about the facts later (or not). Again, I don’t disbelieve Cuomo’s accusers but, as far as I can tell from press accounts, all we have a collection of accusations compiled by an attorney general who it seems likely is angling for the guy’s job. That’s not necessarily to say that the AG isn’t sincere but it is to say that maybe we should take a breath before we blow past the standards that have been built up over generations to protect unpopular people from angry and self-righteous mobs.

In the meantime, let’s also avoid the embarrassing trap of idolizing politicians as if they were god – or TV stars.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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