On Cuomo, the Media Owes Its Audience an Apology (and Some Reflection)

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

On Sunday evening, a top member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff announced her resignation. Every media outlet reported on it as, basically, a sign that allies were fleeing the embattled governor as the toll of the sexual harassment scandal becomes clearer.

Missing in the coverage of this is the fact that the staffer, Melissa DeRosa, was the one who led the charge against Cuomo accusers, doing as much damage control as possible and even helped gather opposition research on the accusers. Also missing is the fact that DeRosa was the person responsible for withholding the nursing home death totals from the public that soon became a scandal in itself.

Of course, it is not as though the media is terribly excited for this story to unfold. They propped up Cuomo as a major success story of the COVID-19 pandemic, constantly comparing his “great leadership” to Donald Trump’s. Due to the coverage he got, Cuomo received an Emmy and a major book deal. It also helped that his little brother, CNN’s Chris Cuomo, unethically gave him major airtime in the form of friendly family chats that were great for PR and provided little actual news value.

Major media outlets loved Andrew Cuomo, and it absolutely breaks their hearts that they have to report on the sexual harassment scandal now. They didn’t want it to end this way. They wanted him to be a winner through all this.

What these outlets owe their audience is an apology and a promise to reflect inwardly on how their skewing of the coverage created this whole scandal. Yes, Andrew Cuomo is apparently a monster with or without the media’s help, but because they made him out to be such a hero in the first place, they had to ignore clear signs of problems and abuse as they popped up.

Cuomo’s accusers popped up for weeks and received very little coverage. At no point was the media really interested in following the pattern. They absolutely dropped the nursing home deaths scandal as quickly as they could. They wanted nothing to do with any of it, and in the end, their propping up Cuomo actually makes him look like more of a monster because he had that much further to fall in the public’s eyes.

If the media had any sense of shame and any devotion to the actual ethics of journalism, they would work on becoming better than they have been. But you and I both know they won’t do that. Much like they created the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s campaign by giving him the equivalent of millions of dollars worth of free airtime, they created the circumstances in which Cuomo had a ways to fall.

The problem is that the media has no sense of shame whatsoever, and they time and again refuse to learn any lessons. A normal person would see this situation and stop to think about whether or not their lionization of a person who turned out to be a monster meant there was something wrong with their judgment. But these people in the national press have absolutely no sense of regret. A Democrat turns out to be a monster, and they move on to the next one they can love and adore. And on and on the cycle goes.