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Disgraced former media darling Andrew Cuomo must resign, but more for this reason

Disgraced former media darling Andrew Cuomo must resign, but more for this reason
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Every day, another shoe drops in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's increasingly dire world. 

In 2020, you couldn't find a more popular governor in the country. The press certainly adored him if these headlines – and there are dozens more like them – are any indication. 

New York Times: “Andrew Cuomo Is the Control Freak We Need Right Now” 

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Vogue: “Why We Are Crushing on Andrew Cuomo Right Now”

Vanity Fair: “Dear Andrew Cuomo, I want to be your First Lady'' 

Washington Post: “No one does it like Andrew Cuomo”

 

Yep — Cuomo certainly brought the sizzle to his power point presentations during his nationally-televised press conferences throughout the early months of the pandemic. He was the anti-Trump: Fatherly. Meticulous. Sympathetic. He was even presidential to the point that some argued he should sit at the top of the Democratic ticket despite not being a declared candidate. 

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And of course, there was “Keeping up with the Cuomos” on CNN's highest-rated news program, where multiple "interviews" were conducted that really served as propaganda and PR for the governor courtesy of network anchor and younger brother Chris. And over the course of 10 interviews starting in March, the nursing home situation wasn't broached once despite reports of a possible scandal emerging last summer.  

When the going was good, the Cuomo Comedy Hour was difficult to avoid. But now, thanks to an all-too-convenient edict by the network, anchor Chris isn't allowed to cover – or even discuss – the huge national stories that are his brother's scandals. Imagine that: A news organization whose slogan literally is "facts first" blacking out a major news item with serious legs to avoid a conflict of interest it had completely embraced last year. 

Over the course of the past few months, the Emmy-winning governor went from having an 87 percent approval rating on his handling of COVID-19 to a majority of New Yorkers saying they don't want him re-elected. The media focus on Cuomo now is largely fueled by multiple former aides – nearly half his age – accusing him of sexual harassment and misconduct. The allegations range from unwanted kissing to asking an aide if she liked older men and wanted to play strip poker. 

At best, the 63-year-old is a creepy narcissist who abused his power among his young female staff. At worst, he's an out-of-control sexual predator. The investigation being headed by New York Attorney General Letitia James will bear it out in the name of the due process Cuomo never afforded then-Supreme Court nominee Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Meghan McCain calls on Gaetz to resign Gaetz defends himself: I'm 'not a monk' MORE in declaring him guilty until proven innocent while demanding he take a lie detector test

But while the claims of sexual harassment against a sitting governor is a big story that deserves ample attention, the alleged nursing home coverup, which caused thousands of deaths, should be a bigger focus. 

Note: It was Cuomo who ordered COVID-19-positive patients back into nursing homes, which is like taking a blowtorch to dry grass. Thousands died as a result. But the biggest bomb to drop came last month, when his senior aide, Melissa DeRosa, said in leaked comments that the Cuomo administration was intentionally hiding the death toll in nursing homes out of fear of a Department of Justice investigation. 

"We were in a position where we weren’t sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys (the press) was going to be used against us while we weren’t sure if there was going to be an investigation,” she said.

For those keeping score at home, that's admitting to a coverup. A state attorney general investigation is also underway as a result, as well as a federal investigation. 

Then there's this New York Times story regarding how deep the coverup was. 

"The [nursing home] number — more than 9,000 by that point in June — was not public, and the governor’s most senior aides wanted to keep it that way. They rewrote the report to take it out," the Times story reads, citing interviews and documents obtained by the paper. 

"The extraordinary intervention, which came just as Mr. Cuomo was starting to write a book on his pandemic achievements, was the earliest act yet known in what critics have called a monthslong effort by the governor and his aides to obscure the full scope of nursing home deaths," it adds. 

Some New York Democrats are now calling for Cuomo's resignation. Others want him impeached. President BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE is backing away from him, through his press secretary, anyway, since Biden rarely speaks to the press or takes questions from them. In fact, Biden is the first president in 100 years not to hold a formal press conference in his first 33 days. But that's a story for another time. 

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Cuomo served his purpose last year – before the presidential election – in being a leader the Biden campaign referred to as "the gold standard" for addressing COVID-19 and in creating a contrast with then-President TrumpDonald TrumpHarry Reid reacts to Boehner book excerpt: 'We didn't mince words' Man arrested for allegedly threatening to stab undercover Asian officer in NYC Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech MORE.

Trump, of course, provided the U.S.S. Comfort and federal resources in transforming the Javits Center in Manhattan into huge field hospitals that could have taken in positive patients while isolating them from those most vulnerable. Instead, Cuomo sent them back into nursing home facilities. More than 15,000 died in those facilities alone, a death toll higher than in 37 U.S. states combined. 

Cuomo vowed not to resign during a press conference this week, because if you're an unapologetic narcissist, that's just not in your DNA. 

At that same press conference on Wednesday, all questions concerned the sexual harassment allegations.  

Somehow, not one question was raised about the nursing homes scandal.  

That needs to change. Both are big stories. 

And the one involving thousands of deaths and the alleged cover-up around it – something the governor still hasn't apologized for – may well be the one that results in Andrew Cuomo's fall from a very high perch provided by the press. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.