February 18, 2021

Andrew Cuomo

“New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide [Melissa DeRosa] told Democratic lawmakers that the administration took months to release data revealing how many people living at nursing homes died of COVID-19 because officials ‘froze’ over worries the information was ‘going to be used against us.’… In recent weeks, a court order and state attorney general report has forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000, when it previously reported 8,500 — a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals.” AP News

“New York state Assemblyman Ron Kim accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo Wednesday of threatening to ‘destroy’ Kim's career in retaliation for Kim criticizing Cuomo’s handling of Covid-19 in nursing homes.” Forbes

Read our prior coverage of Cuomo’s handling of the pandemic. The Flip Side

Many on both sides condemn Cuomo and call on the New York legislature to take action:

“The Cuomo administration apparently feared legal jeopardy — and federal persecution, if not prosecution — over the data so, at best, it slow-walked releasing it to avoid that fight. To be clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean the administration would have faced legitimate legal jeopardy over the data, but the reasoning is still, at best, an inadequate justification for a failure to be accountable and transparent about public-health data during a public-health emergency, regardless of the consequences. And DeRosa’s explanation wasn’t even a public justification — or a public apology — but offered in private to a small group of Democratic lawmakers who had been forced to defend the administration.”
Chas Danner and Matt Stieb, New York Magazine

“There were nursing homes in New York at the start of the pandemic that were trying to refuse reentry to residents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It was Andrew Cuomo, acting under the extraordinary executive emergency powers granted to him by the state [legislature] that ordered all of the homes to accept returning residents and forbade them from requiring a negative COVID test as part of the process. Cuomo also threatened non-compliant nursing homes with crippling fines or the loss of their license to operate. So while some of the nursing homes were clearly failing to take all possible precautions, even the ones who were trying to do the right thing were forbidden from doing so.”
Jazz Shaw, Hot Air

“If the Cuomo administration failed to provide accurate information to the US Department of Justice as part of a DOJ inquiry -- an allegation the Cuomo administration has denied — the DOJ would have jurisdiction to investigate any false or misleading statements made in the course of those communications… New York State also has an inspector general's office that has a mandate to ensure that ‘State officials and employees meet the highest standards of integrity, efficiency, and accountability.’…

“Finally, the New York State legislature has oversight authority of the executive branch, and some legislators have proposed conducting an investigation, including issuing subpoenas and convening hearings, into the matter. Legislators have also proposed taking steps to strip Gov. Cuomo of some of the emergency powers that were extended to him for the purpose of responding to the pandemic… If New Yorkers want transparency and accountability from this administration, our public integrity systems provide the tools to make that happen. If we want New York to be a governmental integrity leader instead of a corruption leader, we should use those tools.”
Jennifer Rodgers, CNN

“Stripping Cuomo of his emergency powers is politically doable, and the public would benefit. That would put the state Legislature back in charge, ensuring that whatever actions are taken to fight COVID are more balanced and reasonable than what Cuomo did. It’s hard to imagine that lawmakers would vote to shutter churches, destroy businesses and close down schools in their own districts. They’d have to answer to their angry neighbors and constituents…

“Even when governors behave more honorably than Cuomo, prolonged emergency powers are a bad idea. After all, if government by one person produced wiser decisions than government by the people’s elected lawmakers, we’d opt for autocratic government all the time. Why choose it during crises?”
Betsy McCaughey, New York Post

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Burying the casualty information constructed two liability shields: one for a health care industry that dumped millions into New York Democratic Party coffers, and another for Cuomo himself. It deprived [NY State Assemblyman Ron] Kim and other legislators of real-time data buttressing their arguments to halt the corporate immunity law (which was being replicated by other states and by Republicans in Congress). It also shielded the governor from political blowback for both his mismanagement of the crisis and his fealty to donors…

“That said, Cuomo’s political liability shield could only exist because the media built it for him. As the death toll mounted in New York, whistleblowers like Kim were all but ignored by a press corps giving Cuomo largely uncritical wall-to-wall coverage.”
David Sirota and Andrew Perez, Jacobin Magazine

“CNN’s Chris Cuomo is reminding us why conflicts of interest poison the news… As the coronavirus spread around the country, Andrew Cuomo turned in more than 10 appearances on ‘Cuomo Prime Time.’… In late June, the host explained to his brother the journalistic rationale for breaking with industry ethics. ‘Me having you on the show is an unusual thing. We’ve never really done it. But this was an unusual time,’ said Chris Cuomo, who then proceeded to praise the governor’s work on coronavirus… But in ‘unusual times,’ principles of journalism merit even more rigorous adherence, not an expedient suspension…

“To what extent has ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ covered the undercount scandal in recent weeks? Not one bit… [The show] brands itself as a locus of chest-beating integrity and righteousness. Yet the asymmetrical coverage of his brother — over-the-top praise when the governor is up; silence when he’s down — is indistinct from the model that CNN (quite rightly) accused conservative media outlets, including Fox News, of following vis-à-vis the Trump administration.”
Erik Wemple, Washington Post

“The undeserved hype around Cuomo reflects the dangerous way in which style has triumphed over substance in politics. It also reflects the way in which, when it comes to leadership, we reward charisma and confidence over competence. Cuomo-mania may have died down, but I wouldn’t imagine that the current bad press will have a lasting effect on Cuomo’s career. The thing about guys like him is that they always fail up. Still, I do hope that if we’ve learned one leadership lesson from Cuomo it’s that we desperately need to rethink what a real leader looks like.”
Arwa Mahdawi, The Guardian

From the Right

“New York was the primary source of new infections across the United States… The New York Times reported last year that the New York variant was responsible for 70 percent of covid-19 cases in Texas, 78 percent of cases in Wisconsin, 80 percent in Alaska, 84 percent in Arizona and 100 percent in Louisiana…

“Stonewalling the Justice Department is bad enough, but Cuomo did something even worse: His administration provided inaccurate data to public health officials in real time, at the beginning of the crisis, when government scientists were desperately trying to figure out how the virus was spreading, who was most vulnerable and how to stop it… This was more than just a coverup. It impeded our public health response…

“New York lawmakers are talking about revoking Cuomo’s pandemic emergency powers. That’s a start. But imagine if Trump had done what Cuomo did? We’d have a third impeachment on our hands. Cuomo’s actions certainly merit his removal from office — not just for the coverup, but for the actions he took that impeded our national response to the worst pandemic in American history.”
Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post

Cuomo’s policy failures are not confined to nursing homes. His capricious policies on business and restaurant closures, unmoored from public-health data, have destroyed small businesses statewide and wiped out New York City restaurants. The December restaurant reclosure was made at the same time that New York officials released data indicating that during the September–November period in which restaurants were open, restaurants and bars accounted for only 1.43 percent of Covid-19 cases. Transmission in homes and at social events account for nearly 74 percent of cases…

“And the New York Times noted that the metrics Cuomo had said would guide his decisions on business reopening were worse when he announced New York City restaurants could reopen for indoor dining on February 14 than when he closed them in December…

“Cuomo has eagerly criticized other state governors’ pandemic responses. ‘You played politics with this virus and you lost,’ he chided. ‘Look at the numbers.’ He had particular censure for Florida governor Ron DeSantis. In fact, New York has the nation’s second-most Covid-19 deaths per million population, just behind New Jersey—and nearly twice as much as Florida. It turns out that it was Cuomo who was playing politics.”
Joel Zinberg, City Journal

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