Fox News “MediaBuzz” host Howard Kurtz called out CNN and MSNBC for their handling of the growing scandals surrounding New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing them of downplaying accusations of sexual harassment and falsifying COVID-19 nursing home death counts until the story became too big to ignore.
“What a dramatic turnabout. A tacit admission that the media had botched the story by initially ignoring it, playing it down — ‘Nothing to see here, let’s move right along, and hmm, I wonder what Donald Trump is up to,’” Kurtz said at the start of Sunday’s show.
“The first instinct of the network newscasts — CNN, MSNBC — was to do as little as possible, and sometimes nothing, about the Democratic governor. They were kind of acting like political operatives. ‘Maybe this will blow over, we won’t have to deal with it,’” he continued. “They are scrambling for higher moral ground because they can no longer control the news agenda.”
Cuomo became a popular media figure during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, as his daily press briefings outlining the status of the COVID-19 crisis in his state gained national coverage. His popularity soared among Democrats as an alternative to Donald Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic. But amidst the rising approval ratings and glowing coverage, outlets like ProPublica began to report on the chaos happening inside New York’s nursing homes and the lack of information from Cuomo’s administration on how many COVID-related deaths had occurred there.
It wasn’t until after Trump left office that those stories got major cable news coverage, particularly after multiple women accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and misconduct. All three networks aired Cuomo’s press conference this past week addressing the scandals, apologizing for “whatever pain I might have caused” but not answering calls to resign as state attorney general Letitia James has started an independent investigation into the sexual harassment claims.
While only 45% of New Yorkers polled by Emerson College this week say Cuomo should resign, 64% said they would not re-elect him if an election was held today. His approval rating in that poll sat at just 38%, down from 71% by the same poll in April 2020.
Watch Kurtz’s remarks in the clip above.