2016 video of Cuomo, News 12’s Beth Cefalu gains new attention amid sexual harassment claims
A video featuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo and News 12 reporter Beth Cefalu has resurfaced and is gaining attention in light of the sexual harassment claims against the governor.
Cefalu is telling her side of the story after video taken in 2016 at the New York State Fair resurfaced on social media. The video shows Cuomo eating at a table with his daughter. Cuomo invites Cefalu to sit down and eat with them, and Cefalu takes a selfie with the governor. The video was shot by WSYR, the Syracuse station that Cefalu was working for at the time.
In the video, Cuomo is heard saying “I want to see you eat the whole sausage” to Cefalu. During the selfie, Cuomo says “there’s too much sausage in that picture."
“When I made the comment that I was hungry, he heard it and that's how this whole thing started,” says Cefalu. “He genuinely and sincerely asked if I thought I would be able to finish it, because it's a massive sandwich, I'm a tiny person, I'm 105 pounds.”
Cefalu says it’s “really upsetting” how the video is being portrayed.
"I don't feel that it was inappropriate or he was trying to be inappropriate,” says Cefalu. "I don't feel like I was being harassed or pressured in any way.”
The story has been picked up by media around the world. The video has been retweeted and subject to the harsh scrutiny of social media.
Attorney Jesse Weber says the video can be looked at in a number of ways.
“This reporter doesn't work for Cuomo, she's not in the same office as him, so all those laws that apply to workplace harassment, we throw out the window,” says Weber. "Everything in politics can be used by any side. If you are critical of Cuomo and you want to go after him, you could say this just shows what kind of guy he is. If you defend Cuomo, you could say this video is really not that bad. This just shows what kind of guy he is. He jokes around, he's a little informal, that's who he is.”
“The fact that she didn't feel at any point threatened or pressured, that says a lot about the incident,” adds Weber.
Cefalu says it’s frustrating being the subject of the story.
"It is so frustrating to be a member of the media and waking up to all of these stories that are pushing this false narrative,” says Cefalu. "I don't feel what happened in that instance was inappropriate. He heard me say I was hungry, and he offered me some food. I feel like If I was a man in the same situation, a male journalist, that this wouldn't be turning into what it is."
There's been no response from the governor's office on the video.