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Chris Cuomo’s Own “Situational Ethics” Should Be Condemned by CNN

After the vote to convict or acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, Chris Cuomo took to Twitter to blast the “situational ethics” of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who voted to acquit Trump.

It is curious to me that Cuomo would use the phrase “situational ethics” as though he himself is not guilty of using them very frequently.

Cuomo’s brother, Andrew — most notably known as the Governor of New York — is currently at the center of a major scandal in which news organizations are reporting that the governor’s administration knowingly lied about the number of deaths in New York nursing homes following a disastrous decree forcing nursing homes to accept COVID patients.

The practice, it has been officially revealed, led to thousands of deaths, and is one of the single biggest contributors to the awful pandemic numbers we’ve seen coming out of New York since it first hit New York City.

What makes the younger Cuomo’s statement on “situational ethics” so curious is that, on multiple occasions, he interviewed his brother, and did not press him on questionable numbers and practices his administration was putting out, but joked with him about the size of his nose and which brother their mom liked best.

Andrew Cuomo
AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

The Cuomos did numerous interviews together, each one fluffier than the last. CNN chief Jeff Zucker defended the light-hearted interviews, saying essentially that it was feel-good TV during a trying time in American history. In reality, Andrew Cuomo was allowed to say he was doing TV interviews while never being pressed or challenged, which allowed his administration to hide the real number of deaths occurring in his state.

As for the rest of the journalists and anchors at CNN? Well… here’s a montage of how critical they were of the elder Cuomo. Check out the bits from CNN in this clip.

One guest says comparing Cuomo to then-President Donald Trump is like “Truth versus mendacity.” Media reporter and Sunday show host Brian Stelter said Cuomo was displaying a “remarkable show of leadership… he is providing hope, but not false hope.”

As it turns out, he was not being truthful. He was providing false hope. His administration lied, repeatedly, about the state of nursing homes in his state. 15,000 elderly citizens died because Cuomo mishandled the virus response.

And for CNN to allow the governor’s own brother to be the only one to give any sort of lengthy interview to him is a major journalistic scandal and one that CNN must be made to answer for.

In journalism, there exists a code of ethics, most of which is codified in newsrooms, to prevent conflicts of interest from clouding the serious and honest nature of journalism. The code of ethics is meant to remove all doubt that the journalist in question acted in the best interest of journalism, and not in any way that is self-serving or attempts to hide facts. The essence of journalism is truth.

Chris Cuomo was either a willing participant in his brother’s cover-up or a pawn of the governor’s in order to keep things hidden. Neither is good for CNN, as the integrity of their coverage is now called into serious question. Officials within his own party, the left-leaning New York Times, and others are now finally questioning the governor. The story has appeared on CNN’s website, but outside of a mention by Jake Tapper, none of CNN’s heavy-hitters are mentioning it at all.

This is a massive breach of journalistic ethics and one that CNN must answer for. In light of all the evidence coming out (evidence we heard whispers about and even saw right-leaning media report on months ago), how does CNN square its coverage of Andrew Cuomo with the reality of the situation? Clearly, the comparisons to Trump signal that for the network this was all about showing Trump’s weaknesses as a leader. Was that comparison and that series of dunks on Trump worth the black eye the Cuomo brothers have now given CNN’s code of ethics?

The answer should clearly be “No.” In any other case, from local newspaper newsroom to major network, no journalist should ever be allowed to interview their own family and treat it as serious news coverage. There is a natural bias, a protective inclination, that makes it impossible for anyone to take that coverage seriously. The cable news network made a fool of itself by letting this go forward and, as a result, it has tainted all coverage of the COVID-19 response in New York going forward.

Andrew Cuomo used the free press to make himself look better and keep people from asking questions about what his administration was doing. Chris Cuomo was a participant in that cover-up, whether knowingly or unknowingly. CNN has to step up, defend or condemn the coverage Chris gave his brother, and explain why it was or wasn’t wrong. The silence on the matter is absolutely deafening, and it’s unbelievable that a major news organization would stand by as the story continues to develop and not address the systemic flaws that led them to become complicit in a major government cover-up.

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