I’m trying to imagine the media reaction if Hannity did a mid-pandemic interview as chummy as this with, say, Ron DeSantis. Except that’s not an apt analogy because:
1. Unlike Cuomo, DeSantis succeeded in avoiding an apocalyptic outcome in Florida.
2. Hannity’s not related to DeSantis so there’d be no glaring — glaring — conflict of interest in interviewing him.
Instead of asking his brother, @NYGovCuomo why he decided to pack COVID patients into nursing homes, killing untold amounts of people, @ChrisCuomo pulled out oversized, prop cotton swabs to mock how big his brother's nose was. This is the state of "journalism" on @CNN. Pathetic! pic.twitter.com/undeQMyVeN
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 21, 2020
The contempt for this spectacle isn’t strictly partisan. Vox’s Jane Coaston cringes:
If my sister became governor of Ohio, I would not interview her, because that would be a conflict of interest. If I worked for a television network, I could not then write about how awesome that television network was without mentioning that I worked for them. It’s not hard!
— Jane Coaston (@cjane87) May 21, 2020
Zaid Jilani too:
Why is CNN allowing the governor of New York — the state worst hit by the public health crisis — to be interviewed by his brother, not once, but multiple times? I mean, I don't think your typical local paper would allow that conflict of interest?
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) May 21, 2020
Coincidentally, as the interview was playing out last night on CNN, the Times reported on a new model estimating how many American lives might have been saved if local authorities moved a tiny bit faster in late February and early March to mandate social distancing. New York is the epicenter of the disease in the United States and so the potential effects in New York were dramatic:
In the New York metro area alone, 21,800 people had died by May 3. Fewer than 4,300 would have died by then if control measures had been put in place and adopted nationwide just a week earlier, on March 8, the researchers estimated.
All models are only estimates, and it is impossible to know for certain the exact number of people who would have died. But Lauren Ancel Meyers, a University of Texas at Austin epidemiologist who was not involved in the research, said that it “makes a compelling case that even slightly earlier action in New York could have been game changing.”
According to the expose published by Pro Publica last weekend, Cuomo was more reluctant than even Bill de Blasio to lock down New York City. He waited five long days after de Blasio floated the idea to actually pull the trigger. Combine that with his catastrophic policy of sending infected residents back into nursing homes and you’re left with the question of what the picture in New York would look like today if Gavin Newsom or Mike DeWine or Ron DeSantis were in charge instead.
A 90 percent reduction in deaths, maybe? More?
Happy fun time with the Cuomo brothers has been a recurring segment on CNN throughout the pandemic, by the way. It’s not something that just started as deaths in New York finally and mercifully began to recede and the mood in the city lightened. Seth Mandel points to this quote from all the way back in early April raising an eyebrow at the practice:
It’s easy, in this strange moment, to forget how far even outside the stretched norms of television news this is…
Fabian Reinbold, a German foreign correspondent based in Washington, was also puzzled.
“It would be considered highly inappropriate and corrupt back home, but here it is getting applause on Twitter by a lot of colleagues,” Mr. Reinbold said. “Needless to say, there are plenty of such problems in the Fox News/Trump corner as well, but this surprised much more.”
Why does CNN allow it now when they didn’t used to let Cuomo interview his brother, asks Mandel? Internally maybe they justify it in terms of a “new normal” supposedly created by the pandemic: We’re All In This Together and we’re all rooting for New York to recover and therefore it’s okay to suspend the trappings of adversarial journalism towards Andrew Cuomo, up to and including letting a blood relation goof around with him on air. But I think they must also justify it in terms of the political identity CNN has cultivated during the Trump years as adversarial specifically towards Trump. It’s not that they’ll never ask a challenging question of a Democrat, it’s more that asking challenging questions of Democrats is incidental to their mission at this point. So, sure, they’ll let Chris razz his big bro a bit on air. Why not? They’re all on the same team.