On Wednesday, CNN primetime anchor Chris Cuomo interviewed New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), for the 10th time since the coronavirus pandemic began. The TV host’s hardest-hitting question for his older brother was whether the COVID-19 testing swabs are too small for his gigantic nose.
“[The nurse told me] that I have a little button nose,” the governor countered.
It was a moment that should have embarrassed CNN, whose journalists frequently—and often justifiably—criticize other networks for lobbing softball questions at President Donald Trump. And yet Chris Cuomo’s employers have decided to let his bad family comedy routine play out night after night, as the brothers fake-argue about which one is mom’s favorite, who would win in a fight, and where the tomato sauce recipe went.
Some viewers might appreciate an occasional light-hearted break from the constant stream of grim COVID-19 news, but this is getting ridiculous. The U.S. has now suffered an estimated 95,000 COVID-19 deaths, with 22,000 in the state of New York alone. Andrew Cuomo is the governor of that state, and the decisions he made have some bearing on that number. On March 25, for instance, Cuomo ordered nursing homes to admit seniors who had tested positive for the coronavirus: a wave of deaths in senior care facilities followed that decision. Grilling him about this misstep is no less vital than grilling Trump about his handling of the crisis—a task that CNN relishes.
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
If there’s no way for an interview between two brothers to be anything other than farce, then CNN should ask the governor to appear on another show. This would help the network avoid such an obvious conflict of interest and one that it would take square aim at were it to appear on another network. One imagines that if Donald Trump, Jr., had a show on Fox News and used it to playfully antagonize Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner while thousands of elderly Americans suffocated to death, CNN would bash it as shamefully distracting state TV.
It’s not just Cuomo Prime Time, of course: Much of the mainstream media has spent the last several weeks lionizing New York’s governor for his handling of the pandemic. The case for Cuomo’s competence appears to be that he speaks authoritatively and sympathetically in his press conferences—unlike Trump, who trips over his words, contradicts his advisors, makes outlandish statements, and lashes out at the press. But while Trump is sparring with a hostile media, Cuomo benefits from a media that wants to turn him into a sex symbol.
Policymakers of all political stripes deserve harsh scrutiny from journalists. That’s why CNN should end the Cuomo & Cuomo Show. It’s disgraceful, and the network knows better.