BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Governor Andrew Cuomo's senior advisor Rich Azzopardi took to Twitter Saturday morning to address a report by Artvoice that the governor was in Western New York on Thanksgiving.
Around 9 a.m. Saturday Azzopardi tweeted:
"So @artvoice (owned by notorious fake news site the Niagara Reporter) published a crazy piece saying the gov was in WNY this thanksgiving. No truth to it. He was in Albany like his schedule said. More garbage from a garbage outlet. The author Teresa Reile should be ashamed."
He continued on to say Artvoice never reached out to the governor's office.
So @artvoice (owned by notorious fake news site the Niagara Reporter) published a crazy piece saying the gov was in WNY this thanksgiving. No truth to it. He was in Albany like his schedule said. More garbage from a garbage outlet. The author Teresa Reile should be ashamed.— Rich Azzopardi (@RichAzzopardi) November 28, 2020
In the article that has now been updated to include an editor's note Artvoice said:
"Editor’s Note: We are investigating whether it was a deliberate hoax perpetrated to embarrass Governor Andrew Cuomo, or a “jump to a hasty conclusion” moment, or if it is true that Gov. Cuomo was in the Buffalo area on Thanksgiving evening, visiting a private residence in apparent contravention of his own edict to stay home on the holiday to stem the spread of Covid 19.
We originally published a post by Terese Reile, who wrote that, according to a group of protesters at the scene, on Thanksgiving, just after dark, Cuomo arrived with a police escort and was seen entering a home in Williamsville.
While Terese did not say she saw the governor herself, she had the word of protestors and reported it as such. The story was published late Thanksgiving evening by a junior editor since it appeared to be breaking news.
The story quickly went viral. Dissenting voices arose to debunk the story. Artvoice added an editorial note that, much like Twitter does, saying the narrative is in dispute.
Supporting the truth of the story is that we have been told by an independent source that the street in question was closed by state troopers. In addition a photographer that our sister publication the Niagara Falls Reporter has published, said on Facebook that she also witnessed the street closed by state troopers.
The author of the post, Terese, went to the scene herself on Thanksgiving evening. By the time she got there, she says, Cuomo was gone [if he was ever there]. But the protestors were still there."
Saturday afternoon Azzopardi took to Twitter again and said:
"Now @artvoice backtracking and deflecting. Let me be clear: the Governor was in Albany and this publication was at best irresponsible, at worst shamefully and willfully negligent."
"Either way the whole thing is libelous and if @artvoice had any credibility they’d take this trash down pending their ‘investigation.’"
Either way the whole thing is libelous and if @artvoice had any credibility they’d take this trash down pending their ‘investigation.’ https://t.co/4jz0DHDaC8— Rich Azzopardi (@RichAzzopardi) November 28, 2020
"If we find this story to be untrue Artvoice will analyze how and why such hoaxes gain ground. It is out there on Social Media."
A spokesperson for the New York State Police in Albany provided the following statement to WKBW:
“The governor was not in WNY on Thanksgiving Day.”