OP-ED: Media coverup for Andrew Cuomo on Nursing Home Scandal


Pacific Press/LightRocket via Ge

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing immense pressure for his nursing home scandal, and workplace sexual harassment accusations. Photo Courtesy of the US News & World Report.

Longxuan (Barry) Yao

New York is going through a political crisis surrounding its Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is now being covered by the media, which they should have been all along, after nearly a year of fawning coverage. The result is a story that exposes not only a man but the vacuousness of America’s entire political press.

Firstly, the story of Cuomo’s Aides Rewrote Nursing Home Report to Hide Higher Death Toll. The report itself is a stunning one as it shows direct evidence of a coverup in June where the death toll in New York was nine-thousand people in nursing homes, and the government rewrote that report to revise the number of death by 50% downward. Even more shocking was that the report was drafted at the same time as Cuomo began writing his best-selling book on the handling of Coronavirus, which he was praised for by the media and many people. Many defenders of Cuomo’s action argue that the Governor did it because the federal authorities pressured him. However, the New York Times reports that Cuomo and his aides have been doing this for months before the federal government even requested any data, knowing that their handling of the pandemic in nursing homes was a disaster. While one should commend the New York Times’ story for the story and the new-found sense of responsibility amongst the media, one should also exclaim: It is so convenient that it is only now when it no longer matters as much politically that all of this scandal is beginning to come out.

Andrew Cuomo holding press briefings for “for obscuring the full scope of nursing home deaths in the pandemic” – New York Times. Photo Courtesy of Bloomberg

Interestingly, the broad contours of the Cuomo nursing-home scandal have been to anyone who is sensible for seven to eight months. The Daily Caller story covered the story that New York Admits Knowingly Undercounting Nursing Home Deaths After Quietly Changing Reporting Rules, the piece was written on May 15th, ten months before the Times’ story. Similarly, the Guardian, a British-based newspaper, wrote on how Cuomo gave immunity to nursing home executives after big campaign donations, pointing towards a corporate liability shield implemented by the New York Governor. Simply put, the facts were apparent for sensible people who cared enough to know, and the “bankruptcy” of all of these is just an excuse from the Times and the rest of the press – that they follow stories only when the facts will lead them there. 

One should question what would have happened if the New York Times, back in May, dedicated its journalists or focuses its reporting resources on uncovering this scandal. If numerous newspapers revealed this scandal months ago are foreign papers, imagine the press and their power, which locates in New York and covers breaking stories such as the Cuomo nursing-home scandal, got involved.

Chris Cuomo’s interview with his brother, the New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo to discuss the pandemic situation in New York. Photo Courtesy of CNN

Indeed, the most pernicious form of news-bias is not its disparities in the stories they cover, it is what the media refuse to cover, which is more potent than anything they choose to display in public. The choice of the press, to not choose to cover Cuomo’s scandal skeptically, is itself the most damaging form of media-bias that subsists, seen by Chris Cuomo’s interview with his brother, the Governor, on CNN. Furthermore, it was not just Cuomo’s interview with Cuomo, it was the entire media establishments giving the most “effortless remedy” to the New York Governor while senior citizens died as he bailed out his biggest money donors all in the reasons: Trump is worse, so we should elevate another figure. Unfortunately, they were successful. Governor Cuomo may be in the “lava of accusations” – workplace sexual harassment by his aids now, but it has been ten months since the decision – to cover him without bias, not cover for him with intent. Even if Cuomo resigns, the media and the New York political establishment will surely replace him with another figure as they do not need to serve as a contradiction to Trump, making his position useless.

A worker carrying a deceased elderly citizens to the hearse. Photo Courtesy of NBC News

At the time, when it mattered for thousands’ elderly parents, the “Fourth Estate”, who should criticize people with power without misgivings, abandoned them during the pandemic. So, as we progress through this public crisis and seeing TV news anchors sanctimoniously asking questions about the New York Governor, recall their actions months ago. Lastly, you should also remind yourself of who the media is giving its “effortless remedy” to now as we regret the lack of critical reporting for the past months. There is an irretrievable cost to society if the press refuses to do its very essential duty – to cover events with neutrality; this time, the damage is evident as every New Yorker who lost their elderly citizens experienced it.