CNN's Chris Cillizza must have been red-pilled this week because he appears to have awoken from his dream state to suddenly realize that New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's leadership during the coronavirus pandemic "may have been less stellar than it seemed."
Despite months of fawning over the governor, the left-leaning outlet's editor-at-large finally delivered a stunning repudiation of Cuomo's performance on Thursday, admitting that "all the hype" surrounding his handling of the pandemic "obscured a troubling reality."
The troubling reality he referred to is that under Cuomo's leadership, the state of New York failed to protect its most vulnerable residents from the virus and in fact may have actively endangered them through a deadly and misguided policy that forced nursing home facilities in the state to accept patients who had tested positive for the virus but had been discharged from the hospital. The policy remained in place for nearly two months and is estimated to have resulted in thousands of deaths.
Even worse, the administration and Cuomo himself refused to take responsibility, attempting to bury the egregious mistake from public view and instead shift blame to then-President Trump and the Republican Party.
The tipping point for Cillizza was the release of a scathing new report from New York Democratic Attorney General Letitia James that revealed the Cuomo administration had undercounted COVID-19 nursing home deaths by 50%.
The report determined that the state Department of Health misrepresented the dire situation by only reporting deaths that occurred at actual nursing home facilities, leaving out deaths that occurred at hospitals after sick residents were transferred there to receive more care.
Why does it matter?
It is good for Cillizza to take notice and inform his readers, however, the fact of the matter is that Cuomo's failed leadership has been well-documented in conservative circles for months. While Cuomo was sending in tapes of his daily briefings to be recognized by the Emmys and liberals were fawning over the governor's "New York Tough" public persona, conservative media outlets were raising the alarm about his missteps.
Besides, it had been known for months that the Cuomo administration — while under the spotlight for its suspect nursing home practices — was curiously only counting in-facility deaths toward its nursing home total, as opposed to including hospital deaths like most states.
in August, the Associated Press covered the action, slamming the administration for keeping the true death count "cloaked in secrecy." Included in the article is a quote from state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat, who during a legislative session called out New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker for what seemed obvious to most — the administration was purposefully obscuring the death toll.
"That's a problem, bro," he said. "It seems, sir, that in this case you are choosing to define it differently so that you can look better."
In response to the attorney general's report, Zucker defended the administration's actions in a statement essentially arguing, "We're not undercounting; we're just counting differently."
"The OAG's report is only referring to the count of people who were in nursing homes but transferred to hospitals and later died," Zucker said. "The OAG suggests that all should be counted as nursing home deaths and not hospital deaths even though they died in hospitals. That does not in any way change the total count of deaths but is instead a question of allocating the number of deaths between hospitals and nursing homes."
Cillizza made note of Zucker's response and rounded out his report by saying, "There's much we still don't know. But here's something we do know: Should James' report be borne out, it would occasion a serious reexamination of Cuomo's performance during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic."
We look forward to it.