CNN’s in-house media pundit Brian Stelter continued to protect embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend, ignoring the latest bombshell on the Democratic governor’s growing nursing home scandal during his “Reliable Sources” program on Sunday.
A top Cuomo aide told leading state Democratic lawmakers that the administration had withheld data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny, according to a damning New York Post report released last week.
The revelation prompted condemnations and even talk of impeachment in Albany, the state’s capital. Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., urged the Department of Justice to launch an obstruction of justice investigation – but the CNN anchor didn’t deem it newsworthy enough to mention on his show.
A search of transcripts found that the words “nursing homes” and “Andrew Cuomo” weren’t uttered once on Sunday during the 11 a.m hour on CNN. MSNBC’s Sunday shows appeared to ignore the developing scandal as well, devoting airtime instead to the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial and acquittal.
Both networks showered the New York Democrat with glowing praise early on for his handling of the pandemic, largely ignoring his directive for nursing homes to accept patients who had or were suspected of having COVID-19. The decision created an onslaught of COVID-19 cases that infected thousands of elderly patients and resulted in thousands of deaths among the state’s most vulnerable population.
Cuomo eventually reversed course – but not before the state’s death toll reached troubling numbers in nursing home facilities.
The governor’s younger brother Chris Cuomo was widely ridiculed for avoiding tough questions surrounding the nursing home scandal early on in the pandemic. The CNN anchor finally mentioned the controversy to his brother after ignoring it during at least 10 on-air interviews, but Cuomo quickly pointed to how there were nursing home deaths “all across the country” and said “we have to figure out how to do it better the next time” before the next virus wave occurs.
The latest development sparked outrage last week when the Post reported that Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, told leading Empire State Democrats during a video conference call that the administration misrepresented the true number of deaths to DOJ investigators over fears that the data could “be used against us.”
The DOJ began investigating nursing home coronavirus deaths in four states in August – New York among them.
“We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” DeRosa told the lawmakers, according to the Post report.
Cuomo refused for months to release data on how the pandemic has hit nursing home residents, instead pointing to figures more favorable to his administration.
In recent weeks, a court order and state attorney general report have forced the state to acknowledge the nursing home resident death toll is nearly 15,000, when it previously reported 8,500 – a number that excluded residents who died after being taken to hospitals. The new toll amounts to about one-seventh of the people living in nursing homes as of 2019 in New York.
Fox News’ Brian Flood and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.