Six months ago, Andrew Cuomo was on top of the world. He was touted as the anti-Donald Trump — the calm, fact-driven coronavirus leader the country needed. Now, amid allegations of hiding the true number of Covid-19 deaths in New York nursing homes and of workplace sexual harassment and abusive behavior, most of the state’s major Democratic politicians are calling for Cuomo’s resignation.

Rebecca Traister is a writer at large at New York magazine and the author of “Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger.” Last week, Traister published an extraordinary piece on the allegations against Cuomo. For her, the Andrew Cuomo story is a lot bigger than just Andrew Cuomo; it’s about the nature of toxic workplaces and the desire — even among Democrats — for strongmen leaders. And more than that, it’s about what we’ve been taught leadership looks like, and how the aesthetic of the tough, domineering male leader covers up, or contributes to, poor leadership.

So I wanted to bring Traister on my podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show,” to discuss the details of the Cuomo story and its broader implications. We discuss what Cuomo has actually been accused of (including Traister’s own in-depth reporting), why we often mistake bullying for leadership, what blind spots the Cuomo story reveals among liberals, the trade-offs between projecting an aesthetic of power and actually governing, why white male rage is so accepted and even admired, the parallels between Cuomo and Trump, how this story recasts reporting on Hillary Clinton and Amy Klobuchar, the double bind faced by female politicians, and much more.

To listen to the full conversation, search for “The Ezra Klein Show” wherever you get your podcasts, or click the player below.

(A full transcript of the episode can be found here.)

The Ezra Klein Show Poster

Andrew Cuomo and the Performance of Power

Rebecca Traister and Ezra Klein discuss the New York governor’s fall from grace, toxic workplaces and the aesthetic of strongmen leaders.

Andrew Cuomo and the Performance of Power 1
Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by James Estrin/The New York Times

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Roge Karma and Jeff Geld; fact-checking by Michelle Harris; original music by Isaac Jones; mixing by Jeff Geld.