Recently unearthed emails between Chris Cuomo reveal that the CNN host assisted his brother’s public relations efforts to deny charges that the state deliberately covered up the number of senior citizens who died in nursing homes with COVID-19.
The Cuomo administration had rushed out a draft statement responding to a New York Times story revealing that Governor Cuomo’s administration had dramatically minimized the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes.
The all-capitalization statement, emailed to the governor’s senior advisers last March 4, said “STATEMENTS FROM DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SPOKESMAN GARY HOLMES AND SPECIAL COUNSEL TO THE GOVERNOR BETH GARVEY IN RESPONSE TO THE NEW YORK TIMES STORY ON NURSING HOMES.”
Two advisers found the story incomprehensible. “None of this is in English. What’s the English answer for the dummies who can’t read this?” asked pollster and strategist Jefrey Pollock, who now works for Governor Kathy Hochul. “Agreed,” wrote adviser Lis Smith.
At that time Chris Cuomo, who was at the time CNN’s top-rated anchor, helped his brother’s team push back against the allegation, which proved to be true. Chris Cuomo advised that, “to be effective,” the all-capitalized headline had to say the New York Times had gotten the story wrong and claim the newspaper of record had not given the governor’s office enough time to respond to the charges. Cuomo wrote:
For this to be effective the caps caption must may say something abt times being wrong or being misleading
Then say why
The. Say you werent given time to respond
The legacy media lionized Andrew Cuomo at the height of the coronavirus global pandemic, often carrying his daily live briefings and lauding him as a stable, competent, successful alternative to President Donald Trump.
On March 25, 2020, Andrew Cuomo ordered that COVID-positive senior citizens could not be “denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.” State political observers speculated the move came as a payback to the Greater New York Hospital Association, which donated $1 million to the governor’s 2018 campaign.
As the deaths began to mount, Governor Cuomo’s aide Melissa DeRosa confessed to state legislators, “Basically, we froze” the death toll We weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the [Trump administration] Department of Justice … was going to be used against us, [and] we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.” Democratic state assembly member Ronald Kim went public with the allegations, saying that Cuomo called “to threaten my career if I did not cover up for” him.
While Governor Cuomo resigned last August over mounting pressure over sexual harassment allegations levied by nearly a dozen women, his nursing home malfeasance has gone unpunished.
Last May, The Washington Post broke the story that Chris Cuomo advised his brother on sexual harassment allegations, but it said nothing about the nursing home scandal.
After the revelation that the two brothers regularly conferred on messaging, Chris Cuomo vowed that “it will not happen again.” CNN made similar pledges. Then-CNN President Jeff Zucker steadfastly stood by the host of “Cuomo Prime Time” though multiple rounds of scandals, but ultimately fired him last December. Zucker, in turn, was fired for failing to disclose a personal relationship with a co-worker.
The new wrinkle is the second previously unreported detail to emerge from the same tranche of Chris Cuomo’s emails. The messages, obtained via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request made by the New York Post, revealed that a New York doctor offered CNN’s Chris Cuomo human blood plasma from a patient who had recovered from COVID-19. Through a go-between, Dr. Christopher Hillyer of the New York Blood Center offered Chris Cuomo “convalescent plasma” in April 2020, as the CNN host suffered from COVID-19. Injecting sick patients with the blood plasma of those who recovered served as an experimental treatment before the COVID-19 vaccine became available to the public.
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