As New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s house of cards continues to fall, more questions are being raised in media circles about the fawning coverage CNN “Prime Time” anchor Chris Cuomo gave his big brother Andrew early on in the coronavirus pandemic versus the coverage he’s not giving him now.
The Washington Post’s media critic Erik Wemple filed a report Tuesday opining on how “CNN’s Chris Cuomo is reminding us why conflicts of interest poison the news.” In the piece, Wemple stated that though we have all been living in “unusual times” since the Wuhan virus outbreak started here, that it was no excuse for media figures like Chris Cuomo to abandon their supposed journalistic principles:
But in “unusual times,” principles of journalism merit even more rigorous adherence, not an expedient suspension. Those “unusual times,” after all, include the past few weeks, during which Andrew Cuomo’s management of covid-19 all of a sudden doesn’t look so wow-worthy.
To what extent has “Cuomo Prime Time” covered the undercount scandal in recent weeks? Not one bit. The host has plowed through plenty of worthy topics: coronavirus vaccines and variants, QAnon and conspiracy theories, the Capitol riot and impeachment, and more.
While it’s nice to see media outlets coming around to acknowledging what conservative media outlets like this one were pointing out long ago not just about the nursing home scandal but also about the conflict of interest issues involved with Chris Cuomo being allowed to “interview” his brother, what was far more interesting than Wemple’s condemnations of the network was the statement they issued to him in response to questions he asked them:
The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time. We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest. As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today. CNN has covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively.
Well, how freakin’ convenient is that?
Here’s a translation for their statement: CNN allowed an “exception” to their rule forbidding Chris Cuomo from interviewing his brother last year while the network – including Chris Cuomo himself – worked tirelessly to make Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fall guys for Gov. Cuomo’s disastrous management of the crisis in his state. In place of serious coverage, they sat back and allowed Chris Cuomo to yuk it up with his brother about his dating life and the size of his nose while displaying oversized Q-tip props. This as more questions were being raised about the very nursing home scandal that is in the news now.
Instead of asking his brother, @NYGovCuomo why he decided to pack COVID patients into nursing homes, killing untold amounts of people, @ChrisCuomo pulled out oversized, prop cotton swabs to mock how big his brother's nose was. This is the state of "journalism" on @CNN. Pathetic! pic.twitter.com/undeQMyVeN
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 21, 2020
But now that the chickens are coming home to roost for Gov. Cuomo, the rule on the little brother not being allowed to interview the big brother is back in effect.
This is the cowardly way out for CNN and Chris Cuomo if there ever was one. They didn’t waive their Cuomo rule for any other reason other than to provide cover for Cuomo while taking one swipe after another at Trump and DeSantis for the way they were (allegedly) mismanaging the crisis. And they’re putting it back in place now for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who has followed CNN’s atrocious coverage of Cuomo from Day One.
Let’s also state this for the record, too: No matter how much critical coverage other journalists at the network are now giving Gov. Cuomo, not a single person there should attempt to cover themselves in glory. The network’s recent reporting on Gov. Cuomo’s various scandals comes too little too late. CNN was the primary news outlet responsible for crafting a false image of Cuomo as a Magnificent Leader leading his state out of the crisis, all while treating other news outlets that had legitimate questions for him as Trump apologists.
There were no winners during CNN’s coverage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, and there certainly are not any now.