In the past, I have written a few posts about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his brother Chris, one of the stars of the CNN channel. Almost on every occasion I stressed my discomfort at the bonds that unite the two men.
Not that I object to brotherly love, but rather because brothers benefit from each other’s power and notoriety. As if the media and politicians were already not sufficiently criticized. It is difficult to maintain public trust or to maintain an illusion of integrity when you turn a blind eye to what is happening now.
You probably remember that the older of the two brothers, Governor Andrew Cuomo, is at the center of controversy for his handling of the pandemic and, most importantly, because several women have publicly stated that they have been sexually harassed by him.
The whole thing is serious enough that the one that has already been considered as an alternative to Joe Biden as a presidential candidate is facing the end of his political career. For the moment, we know that he wants to finish his term, but speculation is rife about his candidacy for 2022.
After we had already denounced CNN’s decision to allow Chris to conduct interviews with his brother at the start of the pandemic, I thought the star host and the channel had learned their lesson. No matter the intentions or the frankly convivial nature of these little TV moments, the two brothers gave the impression of taking advantage of the popularity of both to improve ratings or polls.
CNN had reacted belatedly, just as it is now facing a new controversy. While Chris Cuomo did not address the allegations of harassment against his brother on his show for the sake of impartiality, we learn today that he advised his brother on the attitude to take to get through the crisis. He would have done so many times. That a journalist advises an active politician is already reprehensible, the fact that it is two members of the same family is all the more troubling.
Chris reportedly advised his brother to react firmly, vehemently deny and not be affected by what he sees as a spin-off of “cancel culture”, the culture of banishment. It is paradoxical to say the least that Chris suggests to his brother a strategy and an expression that he blames for the misuse by Republicans during his evening show.
CNN executives now claim that Chris Cuomo made a mistake and he will not repeat it. In the same statement, however, it is stated that he will not be punished. However, the episodes repeat themselves and by passing the sponge, the channel makes the game of its critics and opponents. Above all, its leaders give the impression that ethics are secondary or that impartiality is not at the top of its quality criteria.
I never shy away from addressing issues of disinformation or the propagandistic nature of certain media, but we must also intervene when deviations like the ones I comment on here occur. In the case of the Cuomo brothers, all indicators had been red for quite some time and, despite this, we still sinned out of laxity. Very difficult then not to be cynical.
After visiting the United States in the early nineteenth th century, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville decided to publish his observations. In his classic Democracy in America , he notices the absence of a “class consciousness” in the young republic where, unlike monarchical Europe, everyone can aspire to the same social positions and the same treatment.
In fact, of course, since the beginning of American history, people – especially men – have been able to benefit from their last name to climb the social ladder and stay at the top more easily than all of their fellow citizens. . Only since the mid XX th century, there was Adams, Roosevelt, Rockefeller, the Udall, and of course the Kennedy and Bush.
There are also the Cuomo.
The late Mario Cuomo was three times elected governor of New York State in the 1980s and 1990s. He was considered during most of this period as the Democratic Party’s biggest national star, even though he declined. repeatedly to run for president.
Two of his five children now occupy positions of enormous prestige and influence: Andrew, 63, who has been governor of New York for a decade now; and Chris, 50, the titular host of a daily CNN public affairs show in the most competitive US cable news channel.
The big Brother
Andrew Cuomo made a name for himself nationally – even internationally – at the height of the pandemic. Presented and perceived as a leader solidly in command and listening to science, he played the role of a real-time opposition figure to the chaotic and crazy management of Donald Trump in Washington.
He quickly built up a huge pool of “political capital” – with his approval rating surpassing 70% in the spring, he was being tipped off as president-to-be. He even received an Emmy Award (the American equivalent of our Gemini) for his daily TV press conferences on the pandemic.
Ironically, the state he led had the worst record in the country, and almost the world, in COVID – 19 deaths per population count. If it were to form an independent nation, New York State would have the worst death toll outside the micro-republic of San Marino, with 2,436 deaths per million population as of Thursday, double the rate for Quebec.
The gap between popular perception and reality was already breathtaking.
In fact, from the outbreak of the epidemic, Cuomo had, without much fanfare, formally ordered the retirement homes in his state to admit patients infected with COVID. Weeks and thousands of deaths later, after the decree received initial media attention, it was taken off the state’s website – as if it never existed.
The house of cards held for months – until it finally fell apart . First with the shock report of the state attorney general – a Democrat, like the governor -, who in early 2021 reported extraordinarily inaccurate data provided by the Cuomo administration on deaths in residences for the people elderly. At least double of what was officially recorded should have been declared.
Days later, one of Cuomo’s top advisers admitted to state lawmakers that the data was not just inaccurate – it had been deliberately tampered with by the governor’s team.
At the same time as the numbers were faked, Cuomo signed another executive order, little noticed at the time, granting legal protection to the leaders of hospitals and retirement homes from potential lawsuits. It wasn’t until later that we realized that the hospital and retirement home associations had poured some $ 2 million into Cuomo’s election fundraiser.
Far from being seen as the future head of the American government, Andrew Cuomo today rather has the latter on the heels, since he is the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI.
And that only concerns the exercise of his official functions.
On Wednesday morning, Cuomo’s ex-press secretary Karen Hinton published a text in which she portrayed her professional relationship with the governor as the equivalent of being trapped in a 1950s marriage – an environment of toxic work where intimidation reigns and, to use Hinton’s expression, “penile culture”.
This text set the table for another published later the same day by Lindsey Boylan, a senior New York government official, in which she claims to have been a victim, along with many other women who fear Cuomo too much to testify, of sexual assault and harassment by the governor.
The latter would have done it verbally – asking Boylan, for example, to play strip poker with him , or even inviting him to his office at a Christmas party to show him, smirk, a box. of cigars he would have received from Bill Clinton (so that she understands very well the obvious reference to Monica Lewinsky).
And he would have done it physically – repeatedly touching her lower back and legs, then, following a professional meeting, kissing her on the mouth without the slightest hint of invitation to do so.