Networks Spent 2020 Giving Gov. Cuomo Easy Outs Instead Of Pressing Him On The Nursing Home Scandal

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Shelby Talcott Senior White House Correspondent
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Reports surrounding the results of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nursing home mandate have been circulating among some publications and reporters since as early as May 2020.

Over the next few months, Cuomo was featured on various cable news shows, giving networks plenty of time to grill him on what, exactly, happened with one of New York’s most vulnerable populations. (RELATED: Cuomo Administration Hid Nursing Home Deaths To Keep Feds In The Dark: Report)

Instead of pushing him on the directive, though, networks repeatedly opted to downplay the situation or ignore it entirely.

Throughout the pandemic, CNN had Cuomo on with none other than his own brother, host Chris Cuomo. From March through May, Chris Cuomo had his brother on for 10 interviews, according to Steve Krakauer, the executive producer of The Megyn Kelly Show. These segments repeatedly sparked backlash over the conflict of interest, with Krakauer calling them “a joke” – in one instance, which came after reports of the nursing home situation, Chris teased Andrew with a giant cotton swap.


“The nursing home scandal, after months of relegation to right-leaning outlets only, has become national news. The conflict of interest at CNN is becoming national news too,” Krauker wrote in a recent newsletter.

CNN eventually explained why the brother’s were allowed to speak together on-air, claiming the “extraordinary time” caused them to feel that these pieces were “of significant human interest,” according to The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple.

“The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time,” CNN said in a statement to Wemple. “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.”

Today, the ban on Chris reporting on his brother is back in place.

Back in June, for the brothers’ 11th interview, Chris finally opted to ask the governor about the nursing home situation, Newsbusters reported at the time. (RELATED: Cuomo Brothers Joke Around As New York Nursing Home Deaths Pile Up)

The question came over one month after The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported that the state knowingly undercounted nursing home deaths after quietly changing its reporting rules.

“Nursing homes, people died there. They didn’t have to, it was mismanaged and the operators have been given immunity. What do you have to say about that?” Chris asked during the June interview.

Chris continued on to aim his second question at the “immunity” angle. He did not ask about his brother’s responsibility regarding the debacle, Newsbusters reported.

CNN was not alone in featuring Gov. Cuomo throughout the pandemic. MSNBC also had Cuomo on – with similar results.

A few days after the DCNF’s report came out about New York knowingly undercounting nursing home deaths, MSNBC dedicated nine minutes to an interview with Cuomo. Of the nine minutes, anchor Stephanie Ruhle asked a nine-second question about Cuomo’s nursing home policy, according to Newsbusters.

“While I have you, you have been criticized for your comments about nursing homes. Some people say you did not act quickly enough. Too little, too late. What is your response to that criticism?” Ruhle asked in May 2020.

Cuomo dismissed the criticism and claimed that the state has “the strongest national provisions in place where staff of nursing homes must be tested twice per week.” Ruhle did not follow-up on any of Cuomo’s claims, according to Newsbusters.

“I’m getting criticized now for doing too much,” Cuomo said during that interview. “I have the strongest national provisions in place where staff of nursing homes must be tested twice per week. And the nursing homes are upset that this is too burdensome for them to do it. I understand that it’s burdensome, I understand it’s the most aggressive in the nation. But I also understand that this is the most vulnerable population in the most vulnerable place.”


“We will have lost many Americans in this, Stephanie, but the only solace we’re going to be able to take is we can say we did everything we could. And we didn’t lose anyone for want of medical care, precautions, et cetera. So, yes, they’re unhappy that I’m saying two tests a week for staff. But I want to make sure every one of us can say we did everything that we could,” he declared.

Ruhle’s interview came after an NBC News report slammed Cuomo for his nursing home initiative at the beginning of May. Nearly one month later, Ruhle finally addressed Cuomo on the initiative, asking at the end of June if he takes “responsibility” for the order and subsequent deaths.

“This thing is not going away, sir. 6,300 people died in New York nursing homes,” she said, giving the number of deaths known at the time. “That’s the most in this country. The more time has passed, the more your office has been able to look into this. Do you take responsibility for that order and the role it may have played in those deaths?”

While Ruhle did ask Cuomo directly about his part in the nursing home deaths, she failed to follow-up and question him on various claims he made in his response. The interview lasted 13 minutes, according to a past report about the segment.

ABC News also had the governor on during the pandemic. In June 2020, Cuomo sat down with “Good Morning America” and was interviewed by co-anchor Amy Robach. The nursing home scandal was not mentioned throughout the one-on-one. (RELATED: The Walls Are Closing In On Andrew Cuomo)

Instead, Robach praised Cuomo for his “clear” and “calm leadership,” even calling him “sort of a homecoming king of this crisis.” This interview came after initial reports began circulating regarding the full extent of the nursing home situation.

CBS News had a very similar segment in June as well during Cuomo’s interview with host Jane Pauley. New York’s nursing home deaths were not mentioned – but plenty was discussed about the governor’s bachelor status and whether he wants to run for president.

“Today, Andrew Cuomo is having a moment,” Pauley said to begin the interview.


Ultimately, much was done across various networks to downplay or ignore the now-well known nursing home scandal. Even after The Associated Press published a report on May 22 – which followed the DCNF’s, about New York sending nursing home patients recovering from COVID-19 back into facilities – networks skirted around the subject repeatedly.

The above examples show a baseline on how much of the press treated Cuomo and the scandal for much of 2020, but still doesn’t capture the full extent of the media’s efforts to downplay the situation.

CNN, MSNBC, ABC News and CBS News did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Caller.

Many, like Fox News’ Janice Dean, believe that the media is partially at fault in the deaths and apparent cover-up, which is just now being widely reported. If the press had widely reported on the mandate from the start, she told the Daily Caller during a recent interview, the American people would have gotten answers a lot sooner.

“All of a sudden, now that there are legitimate reports of wrongdoing by this governor and his administration, suddenly they’re starting to report on it, saying that it’s ‘breaking news’ like it just happened,” Dean told the Caller. “We’ve been shouting about this for over 10 months and there’s only been certain places that have been reporting on it consistently!” (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Fox News’ Janice Dean Slams ‘Liberal Media,’ Says They Played Role In Covering For Gov. Cuomo’s Nursing Home Failure)

“I’m pretty confident that if this was a Republican governor – say this was [Florida Gov.] Ron DeSantis – and there were rumors or some reports that he put over 9,000 COVID-positive patients in nursing homes and then there were over 50,000 deaths but he decided not to report those that died in the hospital,” Dean added. “Come on! We’d probably be already having gone to a judge and a jury and he would have been convicted. I mean, let’s be honest! It’s 10 months later.”