Cuomo’s misdeeds say trust the press
It was a bad move for CNN to let their anchor, Chris Cuomo, interview his brother, Andrew Cuomo, then governor of New York, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
The exchanges showcased the worst in modern TV journalism and fed mightily into the right’s criticism of leftist bias in the press, especially at CNN, then-president Donald Trump’s favorite punching bag in the media.
Cuomo on Cuomo was nothing but a lovefest between two siblings. It was hard to watch. We learned little and Andrew Cuomo, one of the most powerful heads of state in the nation, was never held to account for his state’s missteps on the pandemic (and every governor had missteps, no matter how well Andrew Cuomo may have ranked against other states).
And those exchanges made it all the more awkward for CNN and its anchor when Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, was accused by the New York attorney general, also a Democrat, of widespread sexual misconduct in the governor’s office, eventually forcing the governor to resign.
Though I believe CNN anchors and reporters other than Chris Cuomo worked in good faith to report on the scandal, I don’t blame any CNN critic for condemning and distrusting the network.
How could CNN do a fair job against Andrew Cuomo when the brass let one of their star anchors fawn over the New York governor on air day after day during the worst public health crisis on the planet?
This week, CNN got another ding from the Washington Post, which had earlier reported that Chris Cuomo helped his brother strategize his defense against the sexual misconduct accusations. On Monday, the Post reported that Chris Cuomo’s involvement went even deeper: According to texts released by the AG’s Office in New York, Chris Cuomo even tried to find out on his brother’s behalf what other reporters were investigating about his brother and what stories might soon drop.
In a lot of newsrooms, that’s a fireable offense, for a sitting reporter to get involved with a sitting governor in the midst of a current scandal, the reporter essentially working against his employer by helping the governor with communications strategy.
CNN suspended the anchor this week.
What’s worse, the CNN anchor also apparently helped the governor’s office strategize about how to handle the pandemic, all while going on the air to tell the world how much he loves his brother — and his brother’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis.
That’s all an insidious level of conflicted interests, but, really, the fact that we know all that shows how much you can trust the press, even if you can’t trust Chris Cuomo.
Because there’s almost nothing more the press loves than to point out when other members of the press fail to live up to their high standards.
In addition to the Washington Post, Politico, CNBC, the New York Post, Fox News (of course), CBS, The (liberal) Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times — even CNN — all posted stories on the latest Chris Cuomo scandal.
Every industry has bad actors. Just look at the list of disbarred attorneys, censured doctors, and contractors who’ve lost their license.
Journalism is no exception.
But, just like you shouldn’t disregard all doctors because some other doctor faced a malpractice lawsuit, you shouldn’t toss all journalists or media outlets into the wastebin because one of them violated the oath of independence.
Indeed, look to the fact that you can read all about both Cuomos’ misdeeds both far and wide as proof you can trust the media.
If you couldn’t trust them, the media would coddle Chris Cuomo and conceal his crimes against their stated ideals. If it was all “fake news” and there existed a big conspiracy to protect Democrats, why would the media report on those latest text messages?
Wouldn’t it all just be hush-hush, under the rug? What Chris Cuomo did wasn’t necessarily illegal, after all, just wrong.
Instead, even CNN covered Chris Cuomo’s missteps with an admittedly more muted story than its competitors in which CNN brass promised a “thorough review” of the text messages and their anchor’s behavior.
In my book, any industry that seeks to weed out and expose its bad actors is one you can trust.
The only real anti-media lesson to be learned from the Chris Cuomo fiasco is that national TV news is no longer news at all. It’s entertainment. It’s a talk show, little better than “Ellen” or “Oprah” or “The View”.
Read a newspaper, instead.
Justin A. Hinkley can be reached at 989-354-3112 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JustinHinkley.