Assume, for the moment, that at the height of “Cuomosexuals” in 2020, members of the national news media did not know that Andrew Cuomo habitually and shamelessly sexual harassed women who worked for him for many years.
There was still that odd incongruence that New York state persistently ranked at or near the highest in COVID-19 deaths per million residents. And it wasn’t merely a factor of New York City getting hit first or the sheer population density. Nineteen months after the first diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., New York still ranks second, behind New Jersey, in deaths per million residents, and second in total deaths overall, about 10,000 deaths behind California. Long before we knew Cuomo’s administration was covering up the total number of deaths in nursing homes, there was little evidence that Cuomo was a great leader, sparing his state the worst effects of the pandemic. By and large, the media liked the way he looked and sounded on television. In fact, Cuomo was so good on television, he won an Emmy! And that was the criteria that mattered most at the highest heights of the media world. Many of the people who think of themselves as the sharpest and keenest minds, most deserving to scrutinize our elected leaders, are really not much more than theater critics – capable of how a performance makes them feel, and not much more.
If the national media had wanted to celebrate other Democratic governors, with records that were more easily defended during the pandemic, they could have celebrated Hawaii’s David Ige, Montana’s Steve Bullock, Oregon’s Kate Brown, Maine’s Janet Mills, Kentucky’s Andy Beshear, and Kansas’s Laura Kelly. Back in June 2020, all of those states ranked at or near the bottom in terms of cases per million residents, or deaths per million residents. Hawaii, Oregon and Maine still rank near the bottom in cases per million residents and deaths per million residents.
As I wrote in June of last year, “The problem is not merely that most national media institutions are biased in favor of Democratic governors over Republican ones. The problem is also that certain voices in our media are biased in favor of big-state, better-known Democratic governors over other Democratic governors.” The national media adoration of Cuomo set up an accelerating narcissism cycle. No wonder Cuomo acted like he could get away with anything.
Now that the state attorney general’s report has burned Cuomo’s reputation to ashes, it is a good time to remember the national media deliberately chose Cuomo as the governor they would celebrate, salute, and praise the most during the pandemic – just a little head of California’s Gavin “French Laundry” Newsom, who now faces a recall, and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer, who a few months ago was photographed in a bar, violating her own social distancing restrictions.
No doubt, Ige, Bullock, Brown, Mills, Beshear and Kelly have their own flaws. But it is unlikely that they are chronic sexual harassers or get caught their own social distancing orders. (If they are, please come forward and share the details!) The exposure of the real Andrew Cuomo should be a deeply humbling experience for everyone who gushed about the New York governor throughout 2020. (If you bought an Andrew Cuomo prayer candle, please go on a lengthy sabbatical and reflect deeply and at great length upon what bad life choices brought you to this low point.) The national media though they were spotlighting the best governor during the pandemic. They spent a year celebrating the worst.