It’s been a tough few days for the Cuomo brothers. For both the New York governor and his brother, Chris, who is a television commentator on CNN.
The scandal over the concealment of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes has been described as the “biggest in this pandemic.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration decided to lie about the true number of deaths in nursing homes, and the revelation came to light days ago through his own aide.
The first to denounce and report the fact was the New York Post newspaper. One of the Post‘s stories read that Melissa DeRosa, Governor Cuomo’s secretary, privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers during a video conference over the nursing home issue. The statements were leaked in an audio of the meeting that lasted more than two hours.
DeRosa admitted that last August, the Cuomo administration rejected a legislative request for a death count because “at about the same time, former President Donald Trump was turning the situation into a giant political soccer.”
The excuse for premeditated lying about the number of deceased seniors was that Trump could have used the information to his advantage by “tweeting messages.”
DeRosa said Trump would have used the situation to attack Cuomo’s fellow Democratic governors, Trump “orders the Justice Department to do an investigation on us (…) and basically, we freeze,” the secretary told lawmakers in the call.
“So we apologize,” the secretary said. “I understand the position we put them in. I know it’s not fair. It was not our intention to put them in that political position with the Republicans.”
New York state was forced to acknowledge that the number of deaths among nursing home residents totaled about 15,000, after initially reporting 8,500, a figure that excluded residents who died in a hospital.
The issue has outraged Republicans and Democrats, with both parties calling for the governor to be impeached.
A family affair
Yet this controversial situation went beyond Governor Andrew Cuomo himself and reached his brother, Chris Cuomo, one of his top communications advocates across the country.
The governor’s brother works for CNN, is a television commentator, and has praised Andrew for his work in dealing with the pandemic in New York.
But his critics -and some allies, because Democrats, too, want explanations – have taken aim at the Cuomo brothers for failing to confront the concealment of death tolls in nursing homes.
“When New York residents began raising concerns about the rising number of deaths in nursing homes, the governor’s younger brother and most ardent protector, Chris Cuomo, offered him a platform on his CNN show, ‘Cuomo Prime Time,’ to engage viewers by having amusing on-air conversations, largely avoiding the nursing home scandal,” reads a Fox News article.
“This isn’t just a government scandal. It’s a media scandal,” wrote the New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz in a recent article. “Because while the Cuomo administration was sentencing seniors to death, the media was busy fawning over Cuomo in a series of soft interviews, many of them conducted by his own brother.”
Markowicz is not without reason, despite New York being one of the states most affected economically, socially and health-wise by the virus; Andrew Cuomo received an Emmy for the way he communicated and reported on the pandemic.
The treatment of Governor Cuomo by the liberal media, particularly at CNN, differs completely from the coverage given to Republican governors such as DeSantis.
The Florida governor, for example, has faced fierce criticism for his open-minded policy of not doing too much damage to his state’s economy. Instead, they have consistently praised Cuomo’s draconian health measures that have stifled restaurants, many small businesses and even large commercial franchises.
New York and Florida, of similar populations, but the latter being an older state in average age, have a notorious difference in numbers of coronavirus fatalities: in New York there are more than 45,000 dead from the virus and in Florida more than 28,000.
“As grieving New Yorkers angrily awaited answers, the Cuomo brothers joked on air about trivial matters, wondering aloud which of the two would be considered their mother’s favorite child and even resorting to physical comedy when the CNN anchor presented a cartoon-sized cotton swab for his brother to use in a coronavirus test,” Fox News criticized in a report on how the Cuomo brothers have shrugged off the loud scandal of nursing home deaths.
“Days after the elder Cuomo reversed course and signed an executive order on May 11th barring hospitals from returning infected patients to nursing homes and increasing testing for staff, he appeared on his brother’s show in a 25-minute interview that made no mention of the number of nursing home deaths,” reads Fox.
CNN anchor Chris “finally mentioned the controversy to his brother after ignoring it for at least 10 on-air interviews, but the governor was quick to point out that there were nursing home deaths “all over the country” and said “we need to figure out how to do better next time” before the next wave of viruses hit.”
Since the nursing home deaths scandal broke, Chris Cuomo has not commented or analyzed it on his show or tweeted about it. Instead, he has devoted tweets and airtime to the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.