Fact-checkers and journalists alike have done major damage to their respective professions over the years – the last four years especially, and two of the most notable examples of such are Politifact and CNN’s Brian Stelter.
On Sunday during his “Reliable Sources” program, Stelter had on his network’s resident fact-checker and fellow Joe Biden apologist Daniel Dale as well as Politifact’s editor-in-chief Angie Drobnic Holan to discuss fact-checking in the Biden era.
We’ve been told in the past by our intellectual betters like Dale about how Biden supposedly doesn’t lie a lot. So you’d think Stelter and his guests wouldn’t have had much to say during the segment.
But they did, especially when Stelter asked Holan about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home scandal and the fallout from it. Let’s just say things got rather interesting.
Stelter asked Holan about whether or not Cuomo has “been given an easy break by the media” as if he didn’t know already. Her answer was to essentially repeat talking points from the Cuomo administration about how it was nursing home workers who were to blame, not Cuomo. Here’s how the exchange went down (bolded emphasis added):
STELTER: Here’s another headline, Angie, this is from CNN this week. Governor Cuomo in New York saying, “He should have been more aggressive against COVID death misinformation.” He’s suggesting misinformation. Kind of blaming the media for the newfound scrutiny about nursing home deaths. Do you think Cuomo has been given an easy break by the media, and is that changing?
HOLAN: I think the situation in New York is really complicated. Certainly, there are things to criticize about how the Cuomo administration handled data. But the heart of the matter goes back to last year when the state was asking nursing homes to take in patients, COVID patients who are ready to be discharged from the hospital.
We don’t see hard evidence that that made a significant difference in COVID deaths. If you look at the statistics, New York is about having the same numbers as other states around the country. And the issue was employees, workers in the nursing homes who didn’t realize they were bringing COVID-19 into the nursing homes. So, it’s a really complicated situation. There’s not clear-cut answers here.
Predictably, Dale didn’t counter her spin and Stelter just nodded on as if she was dropping some hard truths. Watch:
Angie Drobnic Holan, EIC of PolitiFact, on Gov. Cuomo's COVID nursing home scandal: "I think the situation in NY is really complicated…We don't see hard evidence that [his order] made a significant difference in COVID deaths," adds the "issue" was employees bringing in COVID. pic.twitter.com/iwUn7CWIqX
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) February 21, 2021
Not that anyone should expect CNN of all places to make any meaningful attempt at countering her claims, but Stelter and Dale made no effort at all to correct her on a number of fronts.
Firstly, the state did not “ask” nursing homes and assisted living facilities to take in COVID patients that had been discharged from the hospital. Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandated it. Big difference.
Secondly, a Democratic administration that has nothing to hide wouldn’t have hidden their nursing home data not just from mainstream media news outlets, but also from Democratic state legislators in New York in an effort to thwart a potential investigation from Trump’s Department of Justice.
Thirdly, it’s not just my opinion that the Politifact editor used Cuomo’s talking points in her answer. Here’s proof she did:
Today, PolitiFact's editor repeated the Cuomo-McKinsey spin on Stelter's show. https://t.co/54sStByubV
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) February 21, 2021
Lastly, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that there’s a reason why other states like Florida severely restricted who could and could not visit or be admitted into nursing homes after the pandemic crisis started. It was to minimize the risk of outbreaks at such facilities where people who were most susceptible to severe cases of it resided:
Not that complicated. At the height of a pandemic that is most deadly among the elderly & infirm, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to accept coronavirus-infected patients and has now spent nearly a year obfuscating the fall out from that. https://t.co/kb3GnHEujD
— Jerry Dunleavy (@JerryDunleavy) February 21, 2021
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. The so-called “fact-checkers” at Politifact did the bare minimum on fact-checking Cuomo last year, and don’t appear to be much interested in holding his feet to the fire this year, either.
Even today as others on CNN are trying to cover themselves in glory for finally starting to ask tough questions of the Cuomo administration, others – like Stelter and Dale – are demonstrating that old habits for the network die hard.
The families of the victims of his deadly nursing home mandate are outraged – and rightly so – that CNN continues to provide cover for Cuomo despite the volumes of evidence against him.
There were no winners during CNN’s coverage of Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, and there certainly aren’t any now. This is just who they are and, sadly, that is unlikely to change.