Politics CNN's Cuomo Brothers 'Blunder' Comes Back to Haunt Network Amid Nursing Home Scandal
Cuomo's national star threatened by increased scrutiny over handling of nursing home deaths
During New York's darkest pandemic days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged as one of the country's brightest political stars.During New York's darkest pandemic days, Gov. Andrew Cuomo emerged as one of the country's brightest political stars.
CNN is facing criticism for its coverage of New York Gov.amid his administration's handling of COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes, with experts saying that the network committed a "major blunder" by allowing to regularly interview his own brother on his show Cuomo Prime Time.
Earlier this year,aired regular primetime banter between the New York governor and his brother, anchor Chris Cuomo. But has the network had its reputation damaged now that hindsight shows such lighthearted segments may have represented a conflict of interest that led to blinkered coverage of the politician?
The swift rise and disastrous fall of Andrew Cuomo, America's wannabe Covid hero
Democrats need to reckon with the record of politicians on both sides of the aisle who have used Trump, the pandemic, or both to elevate their profile.Cuomo became a hero to Democrats across the country last spring, his stature on par with President Barack Obama, with live-streamed daily press briefings that projected steely resolve and paternal authority in the face of a deadly menace. The New York Times’ media columnist Ben Smith called him “the executive best suited to the coronavirus.” As the 2020 Democratic presidential primary dragged on, buzz circulated that Cuomo would be a better candidate than Biden.
Widely praised during the first months of the pandemic for his coronavirus response, Gov. Cuomo now faces fresh accusations that he held back data about nursing home deaths. More than 15,000 New Yorkers in care homes have died, nearly double the 8,500 fatalities that had been logged by the state's health department until late last month.
"If anyone had the perfect answer to nursing home deaths, and if anyone tells you they do, they're lying," Cuomo said at a press briefing on February 21. "Because people are going to die in nursing homes today. If you have the perfect answer, then why will people die in nursing homes in this state, and every other state, in this country?"
Andrew Cuomo's Approval Rating Gets Slight Ding Amid Nursing Home Scandal
A Monday Morning Consult poll found 57 percent of voters approve of Cuomo's job performance, just a six-point drop compared to earlier this month.The poll, published Monday, found that 57 percent of the 3,203 registered New York voters surveyed between February 12 and February 21 approve of Cuomo's job performance, while 38 percent disapprove.
His comments came after both Democrat and Republican state legislators spoke out against the governor, calling for his emergency powers to be stripped and an investigation to be opened over his handling of the pandemic.
that it had temporarily lifted last spring—the governor appeared on his brother's show nine times between March and June in 2020.
Eric Deggans, a media analyst forNews and TV, critic for NPR and author of Race-Baiter, How the Media Wields Dangerous Words to Divide a Nation, told Newsweek he was "always uncomfortable with segments on Chris Cuomo's show last year where he was joking around with his brother Andrew while New York and the world were struggling through the early stages of the pandemic."
"I think Chris Cuomo's problem with his brother's growing political problems highlights why journalists are expected to have some measure of independence from people they cover," Deggens said. "It's not just about whether coverage is affected—though there are valid questions about that subject for CNN and Chris Cuomo. It's about the appearance of independence and the way visible conflicts of interest undermine a news outlet's credibility."
Cuomo Didn't Protect Seniors From COVID-19. But it Was the Media That Covered it Up | Opinion
How could the media have gotten this so wrong? The most charitable explanation is that the media loves a hero story. And it helps when the hero is someone on their political team.Such an investigation was long overdue. One of the biggest scandals of the pandemic has been the number of nursing home deaths in New York City, many of them possibly linked to a March 25 directive from the Cuomo administration forcing nursing homes to take in people even if they had tested positive for COVID-19. It would prove a death sentence for thousands of seniors. And to fend off an investigation, the Cuomo administration underestimated the number of nursing home deaths by 40%.
The author explained that it's obvious that keeping a critical eye is more difficult for an anchor whose sibling is a top lawmaker and believes that "Chris Cuomo should have distanced himself from his brother's activities and been honest with his viewers about why he was doing so."
He added: "As it stands, he is becoming a visible example of the difficulties news outlets face when they tolerate conflicts of interest in exchange for access."
Meanwhile, DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall feels that the press establishment "made a mistake last spring by actively creating a narrative that Governor Cuomo was a national hero in the COVID challenge."
Speaking to Newsweek, McCall said CNN got on the Gov. Cuomo "bandwagon" as it fit with the network'sprogramming strategy but "committed a major blunder from a journalism ethics standard in letting brother Chris go on night after night to interview his own brother."
"All major journalism codes of ethics warn specifically about conflicts of interest, and interviewing your brother for news purposes is a clear-cut violation of these professional codes," McCall explained.
Gov. Cuomo faces calls to resign from lawmakers after 3rd woman comes forward
Rep. Kathleen Rice has become the first New York Democrat in Congress to call for him to step down. "The time has come. The Governor must resign," Rice, a former district attorney, tweeted Monday night.
The professor said another problem with the Cuomo brothers' routine was that they "mixed actual news with melodrama, family stories and comedic routines."
"In retrospect," he said, "this looks quite juvenile and unprofessional, especially given the nature of the recent revelations."
McCall maintains that CNN "should have known better" and the network's credibility is taking a hit now as a result.
Newsweek has contacted CNN for comment.
CNN previously explained their decision to allow Chris Cuomo to interview his brother was as a result of an "extraordinary time."
"The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time,"The Washington Post. "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."
Cuomo avoids public amid outcry over harassment allegations .
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has avoided public appearances for days as some members of his own party call for him to resign over sexual harassment allegations. The governor hasn’t taken questions from reporters since a Feb. 19 briefing, an unusually long gap for a Democrat whose daily, televised updates on the coronavirus pandemic were must-see TV last spring. He was last before video cameras Thursday, when he introduced President Joe Biden at a virtual meeting of the National Governor’s Association, which he chairs. He also participated Tuesday in the group's conference call, which was off-limits to reporters.