No one has done a worse job at any level of government in managing the coronavirus pandemic than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Nearly one-third of all deaths in the country have happened in his state, and the majority of those within New York City. While Cuomo’s results have been some of the worst in the world, other states with larger total populations have managed to hold their outbreaks to only a fraction of the size.
This hasn’t been by sheer chance, nor things out of Cuomo’s control. His decision to force nursing homes by government edict to take sick hospital patients has cost thousands of lives. While other states were taking action in February, Cuomo and the officials in New York City were encouraging people to not socially distance. It took until the end of April for even the subways to be disinfected.
When Trump banned travel and questioned whether we should quarantine parts of the city, Cuomo lost his mind. When other states suggested fleeing New Yorkers needed to self-quarantine for 14 days, Cuomo threatened to sue them.
To this point though, no major media outlet has managed to levy any real criticism. In fact, Cuomo’s punishment for doing such a horrific job has been near-nightly CNN hits with his brother, where they playfully banter back and forth without a tough question in sight.
Well, someone has finally called this lunacy out for what it is.
“While Andrew Cuomo was benefiting from heart-string-tugging segments on CNN, his state was struggling….
“Shutdowns came late, and over the governor’s hesitations. Journalism that truly aims to restore trust in media would hold Andrew Cuomo to account”https://t.co/TCKfmMg5sC
— Abigail Marone (@abigailmarone) May 28, 2020
For a time years ago, CNN allowed Chris to interview the governor, despite the obvious questions about whether any younger brother could ever conduct an evenhanded interview of his big brother. (As anyone with siblings knows, the problem is as apt to be excessive toughness as going too easy.) Chris Cuomo defended the topics of these interviews as nonpolitical, and insisted that the problem was one of appearance, not substance. Still, CNN heeded the critics and banned Chris Cuomo from interviewing Andrew Cuomo from 2013 until March 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the New York governor at the heart of the coronavirus story, the rules were relaxed, and the Cuomo brothers began speaking on air regularly. The interviews were funny, as the brothers dredged up old beefs, and became poignant when Chris contracted COVID-19. It was easy to see what was gained: CNN got must-watch TV, and the governor’s office got a chance to humanize a politician more respected (usually grudgingly) than loved. With a little distance, it’s clear what was lost too: accountability for New York’s troubled response to the crisis.
While the writer of the piece is a liberal himself and does his best to couch some of his criticisms, the well-deserved critique about Cuomo’s performance and CNN’s total lack of ethics manages to come through. He continually compares Cuomo to Trump, which is silly given the facts on the ground and differences in response, but you have to assume that making that comparison was incredibly painful for the author, as a liberal comparing one of their ideological allies to Trump isn’t something they relish.
Experts said that New York City was always likely to become a center of the virus because of its constant flow of people, size, and density, but as The New York Times reported, “initial efforts by New York officials to stem the outbreak were hampered by their own confused guidance, unheeded warnings, delayed decisions and political infighting.” Promised contact tracing never materialized. Shutdowns came late, and over the governor’s hesitations. Journalism that truly aims to restore trust in media would hold Andrew Cuomo to account for these missteps.
When Cuomo has faced such questions—mostly from reporters who don’t share his last name—he has bristled, blaming a range of other bodies and agencies. As with Trump, he’s not entirely wrong: The federal government and the World Health Organization, among others, did badly botch the crisis. But that doesn’t absolve him of responsibility.
Will CNN respond to this? Given this is a story that directly relates to criticism of the media, you’d think Brian Stelter and his sidekick will be forced to cover it. But they have a penchant for ignoring things when it comes to criticism of their own. Jeff Zucker may have already given his marching orders.
Regardless, CNN’s behavior has been ridiculous. To continually have one of the worst governors in America on during this pandemic and never ask him any tough questions isn’t just journalistic malpractice, it’s taking a knife out and stabbing journalism in the heart repeatedly. Andrew Cuomo needs to be held to account and eventually run out of office, not fluffed as a 2024 candidate.