The Corner

Media

The Media Didn’t Make Andrew Cuomo a Monster, They Just Enabled His Narcissism

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) winks while speaking from the One World Trade Center Tower in New York, June 15, 2021. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

An important point, midway through Peggy Noonan’s most recent column:

When a woman whose bare back he was stroking grabbed his wrist and removed his hand, he remarked, “Wow, you’re aggressive.” He then asked for a kiss. He had an air of entitlement: He was taking what was his. Many of the events described in the report occurred after the pandemic had raised his profile to that of public hero. Politicians are never so dangerous as after a triumph.

Andrew Cuomo was a creep, a lech, and a nut for a long while, long before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. But months and months of off-the-charts adoring press coverage unleashed his narcissism and worst impulses, as I tried to emphasize this week.

And it is important to remember during all this, while the pandemic had “raised Cuomo’s profile to that of public hero,” Cuomo was not actually a hero. New York always ranked at or near the top in cases and deaths per capita, from the start of the pandemic to today. Cuomo’s decisions on forcing infected patients back into nursing homes and assisted-living facilities was colossally consequential. And plenty of us who were not under Cuomo’s spell saw it from the start. The gap between the grand illusion of Cuomo and reality was illuminated by David HarsanyiPradheep ShankerKyle SmithKathryn Jean LopezMairead McArdleZachary EvansTobias HoonhoutBrittany BernsteinThe Editors, a bunch of others I’m forgetting, and, ahemmemultiple times. The counter-evidence to the heroic governor narrative was there, if you were willing to look. But a lot of people who think of themselves as servants of the public interest never wanted to look.

Sure, you can allocate some blame to the Trump administration, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, population density, the fact that mass transit operated normally through much of the crisis and that no one thought to deep-clean and disinfect the subway cars until May 2020. But to media voices utterly entranced by Cuomo’s tough-guy persona in his daily briefings, none of the data mattered. They had found their hero.

“No one does it like Andrew Cuomo,” swooned Jennifer Rubin in July 2020, raving that Cuomo was “brutally honest and entirely pragmatic,” and that he had taught the country, “Take responsibility. Don’t grandstand. Operate on facts.” All of this was written while the Cuomo administration was covering up nursing-home deaths. No wonder Andrew Cuomo thought he was untouchable.

But no one in the national media did more to promote the idea that Andrew Cuomo was the hero of the year than his brother Chris, anchoring a show on CNN’s primetime, the same man that we now know was helping draft the governor’s responses to the sexual-harassment allegations.

Many members of the media like to believe they “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” standing up for underdogs and calling out bullies. Their record indicates they afflict the already afflicted — consider the scornful treatment of Janice Dean — and serve the comfortably malignant.

Recommended

The Latest