When Josh Vlasto calls a reporter, he is armed with facts.
“I try to…pursue the information internally as aggressively as a reporter would,” he said. “This way I know what they’re looking for, what they are going to find, the type of questions they’ll ask and how best to answer before I even get on the phone.”
Since he arrived in Albany, Vlasto has developed a reputation as a pugilistic defender of the governor, willing to criticize a paper or reporter in response to negative stories.
“This is not personal,” Vlasto said. “This is a tough business, and sometimes in the heat of the moment things can get personal, but at the end of the day I respect reporters as colleagues and professionals.”
Vlasto, a New York City native, was raised in a political house. Although his parents divorced before he was born and he was raised by his mother, Carol Opton, both worked for former Gov. Hugh Carey. His father served as Carey’s press secretary. “I basically sit in the office my father had,” Vlasto said.
He volunteered on his first political campaign at age 12, for Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. After graduating from Cornell, he began working for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (under a press team that included Blake Zeff, Stu Loeser, Izzy Klein and Eric Schultz), rising from legislative aide to New York City press secretary.
Vlasto now works alongside Cuomo’s communications director, Rich Bamberger, to help disseminate the governor’s agenda. Administration staffers call the pair “Frick and Frack.”
Vlasto seems to enjoy sparring with reporters. “I like being involved in everything that’s going on,” he said. “On any given day you can do crisis management and be a part of the big successes over the course of a few hours.”
“I really enjoy it,” Vlasto added. “I really, really do.”—Laura Nahmias
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