From winning an Emmy to fodder for Saturday Night Live, the embattled New York Governor’s coronavirus nursing home scandal finally makes headlines now that fellow Democrats are driving the narrative that Cuomo is a liar and a bully. Who knew?
In just a few short months, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has gone from Emmy winning hero of the COVID-19 crisis to fodder for Saturday Night Live, right alongside embattled Texas Senator Ted Cruz, long a target of left-leaning comedians. Needless to say, it’s not the kind of company the governor is used to keeping.
The height of Cuomo mania came last November, when he was honored with an Emmy Founder’s Award for his “masterful” COVID-19 briefings. “The Governor’s 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure,” the academy’s president and CEO, Bruce Paisner, explained. “People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back.”
The Emmy came complete with fawning celebrities appearing in a now embarrassing video endorsement. Cuomo’s coronavirus press conference performances “gave us hope, gave us clarity, gave us the truth, and gave us something we were not getting from Washington: leadership,” comedian Billy Crystal gushed. “You are the epitome of New York tough.” Crystal was joined by the likes of Ben Stiller, Spike Lee, Robert Deniro, and Rosie Perez. “You are the man,” claimed Ms. Perez. “We were all in a crisis, in a panic, and every single day you came on the airwaves, and you offered your strength, your leadership, your direction, and your caring, and your heart.”
January and February 2021 haven’t been nearly so kind to Cuomo.
His troubles began when New York Attorney General and fellow Democrat, Tish James accused him of cooking the books on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. “Preliminary data obtained by O.A.G. suggests that many nursing home residents died from Covid-19 in hospitals after being transferred from their nursing homes, which is not reflected in D.O.H.’s published total nursing home death data,” the AG’s office wrote in a summary report. The report claimed the undercount was as much as 50%, adding that “investigations also revealed that nursing homes’ lack of compliance with infection control protocols put residents at increased risk of harm, and facilities that had lower pre-pandemic staging ratings had higher COVID-19 fatality rates.”
Things did not get better from there for Cuomo when a top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitted in a conference call with Democratic lawmakers that he intentionally withheld the data, telling them “we froze.” Amazingly, Ms. DeRosa seemed to admit to intentional obstruction of justice, fearing that the true number of nursing home deaths could be “used against us” by Federal prosecutors. Of course, Ms. DeRosa blamed then President Trump, “He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes,” she said. “He starts going after [New Jersey Gov. Phil] Murphy, starts going after [California Gov. Gavin] Newsom, starts going after [Michigan Gov.] Gretchen Whitmer.” Then he “directs the Department of Justice to do an investigation into us. And basically, we froze.”
The State of New York has since released updated numbers, supposedly now telling the entire story. Previously, they reported 8,500 in-nursing home deaths. Now, however, they are reporting nearly 13,500, meaning they lied and people died. Perhaps even worse, Cuomo continues to lie and threaten anyone who says otherwise.
New York Assemblyman, Democrat Ron Kim has come forward to describe a “threatening” exchange with Governor Cuomo after speaking out about his handling of the pandemic on The View. “I was about to bathe my three kids when I received a call from the governor. He spent ten minutes threatening my career and ordering me to issue a statement that would be used to cover for the state secretary,” Kim said.
The Assemblyman was hoping to spend some time with his family celebrating the Lunar New Year, but was repeatedly interrupted by “many calls” and “many other attempts” from Cuomo and his staff. “I realized that [Cuomo]’s continuing to ask me to cover up for [DeRosa],” Kim said. “At that point I needed to get an attorney, which I did over the weekend.” “Cuomo is an abuser,” Kim also alleged. “He has abused his powers. Abusers are cowards.”
Kim was uncowed, saying on Twitter on Monday, “Cuomo abused his powers to hide life and death information from the Department of Justice that prevented lawmakers from legislating – like fully repealing corporate immunity for nursing homes. That is an impeachable offense.” Other Democrats are also piling on including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, “I have not spoken to [Cuomo]. No, I do not accept his explanation,” he said during a press conference. “There needs to be a full investigation…we need to get the whole truth and make sure nothing like this ever happens ever again.”
Of course, Cuomo denies the charges, both the bullying and lying.
Regarding Assemblyman Kim, Cuomo’s spokesperson, Rich Azzopardi, claims to be “one of three other people in the room when the phone call occurred” and insists that Kim’s claims are “beyond the pale and is unfortunately part of a years-long pattern of lies by Mr. Kim against this administration.”
Regarding the lying about the real death toll, Cuomo continued to insist there was nothing to see here as recently as last Friday, and that any problems were related to “falsities,” whatever that may mean. “I was not aggressive enough in knocking down the falsities.” Though undefined, these falsities are apparently Donald Trump’s responsibility. “It started with Donald Trump, this whole nursing home thing.” His theory is that there was a “void” in the reporting, again whatever that means, which was exploited by “crazy political theories.”
The only problem is: None of this is a crazy conspiracy theory.
On March 25, the state government of NY issued a directive requiring nursing homes to accept coronavirus positive patients and also banned them from testing patients before entry. The decision is not in dispute, nor was it a decision made by most other states. Florida, for example, decided differently along with 40 some odd others.
As recently as last week, the Health Commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, was defending the decision. He claimed that the infection was spreading “at a staggering pace” at the time and the state was running out of ICU beds. The move was made to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing. “You can only review a decision with the facts that you had at the time,” he said during a press briefing with Cuomo. “And with the facts that we had at that moment in time, it was the correct decision from a public health point of view.”
The decision was rescinded in May and Cuomo has been making false claims about it ever since, faking scientific reports and pretending it didn’t happen.
In July, he issued a study claiming that the directive itself was “not a significant factor” in NY’s nursing home outbreaks. The report was criticized and practically laughed at upon its release. “I think they got a lot of political pushback and so their response was, ‘This isn’t a problem. Don’t worry about it,’” explained Rupak Shivakoti, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “It seems like the Department of Health is trying to justify what was an untenable policy,” noted Charlene Harrington, a professor emerita of nursing and sociology at the University of California at San Francisco.
By the fall, Cuomo was busy claiming it was a non-story. “We never needed nursing home beds because we always had hospital beds. So it just never happened in New York where we needed to say to a nursing home, ‘We need you to take this person even though they’re Covid-positive.’ It never happened.”
Throughout it all, Democrats and the mainstream media accepted his lies and strange behavior (anyone remember the giant Q-tip on CNN or the COVID-19 poster?) because they felt he was a convenient foil for Trump. Simply put, they pumped up an obvious bully and fraud, and they knew it. Trump is gone now, however, and the gubernatorial election in NY is coming up soon, so the Democrat knives are out and Cuomo suddenly finds himself expendable.
Better late than never, but remember this whole sorry episode the next time the media is focused on the latest Republican scandal of the day. They were all more than willing to be complicit in a Democrat cover up for months on end, displaying no care or consideration for those who lost their lives as a result of the policy, while an ill-advised vacation for Ted Cruz is treated as a national emergency. That should tell you something about their motivations.