A look back at the rise and spectacular fall of the Cuomo brothers
One year ago, in August 2020, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) was sitting on top of the world. And in retrospect, he couldn’t – in even his worst nightmare – ever have believed that one year later he would be forced to resign.
The approval ratings for the “Luv Guv” were still at an all-time high. Some openly wondered if he would be the next attorney general in a Biden administration. Celebrities and other prominent figures on social media even declared themselves to be “Cuomosexuals.”
Ellen DeGeneres: “Can I say than I’m a ‘Cuomosexual’?”
Cuomo: “Yeah, I think that’s a good thing”
— Chet Cannon (@Chet_Cannon) August 3, 2021
I’m officially attracted to Andrew Cuomo. Can we just let him take over for the country? Wouldn’t that be bipartisan? Let’s do that!
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) March 21, 2020
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) August 10, 2021
Cuomo had just completed the negotiation of a book deal worth more than a $5 million advance. There was talk of him being a contender for an Emmy award (which he eventually won), all thanks to his PowerPoint presentations used for COVID-19 updates that were carried in their entirety by national media outlets.
And his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, was still performing better in primetime than he ever had, averaging nearly 1.8 million viewers per night in August 2020, partially thanks to a spring that featured multiple interviews between the two brothers that effortlessly avoided anything resembling a tough question or scrutiny.
Cuomo’s job approval rating hits all-time high of 60% in new Marist poll. 72% approve of his handling of the coronavirus.https://t.co/J7yskITLuh
— Tom Bevan (@TomBevanRCP) July 10, 2020
For the Cuomos, life was good. Sure, Andrew had a looming nursing home scandal – following his March 2020 order to send COVID-19 positive patients back into nursing homes – that was gaining momentum. And yes, Chris was widely mocked after being caught breaking his own COVID home-quarantine, but this was the royal family of New York we were talking about.
The extent to which CNN has adopted reality TV values here is pretty remarkable. Including eliding the controversy over Cuomo’s travel. https://t.co/AOS1spHYSR
— Ben Smith (@benyt) April 21, 2020
In October, the tide began to turn. The governor released his book on COVID leadership as COVID was resurging in what turned out to be an optics nightmare. Then came the Emmy award that Cuomo gladly accepted, which came complete with celebrities fawning over the nation’s most popular governor.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo, you are the man,” declared actress Rosie Perez. Actor Billy Crystal swooned: “In the darkest days of the pandemic, your daily briefings, live from New York, gave us hope, gave us clarity, gave us the truth, and gave us something we were not getting from Washington: Leadership.”
“In the midst of this storm, Andrew Cuomo became the nation’s governor. People across the country tuned into his press conferences every day,” said signer Billy Joel.
But in February, things got much worse for the governor after his top aide, Melissa DeRosa, admitted to what amounted to a coverup around nursing home death tolls being undercounted, in comments caught on tape: “We weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice (in terms of nursing home data) was going to be used against us, while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation.”
But it took multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct for the press to finally turn their collective eyes on New York. One woman’s accusations became six women, then 11, with many of them decades younger than the governor. Cuomo’s approval ratings plummeted. But it wasn’t until New York Attorney General Letitia James’s scathing, meticulous report about sexual harassment that the final coffin-nail was hammered.
With Cuomo expendable after having served in his role of helping to oust Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election as (superficially) the anti-Trump on COVID, there was no reason for anyone to stick their necks out to protect him. The state’s top Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, called for Cuomo’s resignation; New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio (D) called for the governor to be criminally charged with sexual misconduct. President Biden also called on the governor to resign following the attorney general’s report.
And once the New York Times editorial board called for his resignation, you knew it was only a matter of when, not if.
— Gloria Pazmino (@GloriaPazmino) August 4, 2021
As for Chris Cuomo, he remains on a pre-planned vacation from CNN. Some have called on him to resign as well, after the same AG’s report showed the anchor advising his brother on how to discredit those accusing the governor of sexual harassment.
— Laura Bassett (@LEBassett) August 3, 2021
Chris Cuomo resign calls grow over role advising brother on sexual harassment allegations https://t.co/YskjgdK4by
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) August 4, 2021
It was once the hottest reality show on cable news: Keeping up with the Cuomos. They laughed. They cried. They were on top of a dreary, pandemic world.
Chris Cuomo Teases His Brother the Governor With Some Cotton Swab Prop Comedy https://t.co/eipSWuSWgf
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 21, 2020
Yet, one summer later, Andrew Cuomo is out as New York’s governor; his younger brother may be headed out of a job as well. But stranger things have happened to those who were once thought to be sure-goners. Just ask Jeffrey Toobin.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor.