New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said this week that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci are "modern-day" versions of actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
Social media responded to the Democratic governor's remarks with a mix of scornful glee and derision.
What are the details?
During a Monday press conference, Cuomo and Fauci discussed the ongoing COVID-19 response across the country.
At the time of this reporting, researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimate that there have been 15 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States, with more than 1.5 million deaths worldwide attributed to the virus.
As the two spoke, Cuomo went on to compare himself and Fauci to revered Italian-American actors Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.
"Doctor," Cuomo said about New York state's infection rate, "on the question of this state's infection rate versus other states, we're lower than all states besides Vermont, Maine, and Hawaii. Does that surprise you, and how do you explain that?"
Fauci began his response by virtually clapping Cuomo on the back for how the state recovered from its early pandemic surge.
"I have to say, being a New Yorker, Governor, it doesn't surprise me," he said. "You guys, as you and I have discussed on many phone calls that we've had, you got hit with a sucker-punch right from the beginning, when the cases came in from Europe, the Northeastern corridor — particularly New York state, particularly the metropolitan — got hit really, really badly."
He continued, "You recovered from that, was after you got hit badly, your baseline level went way, way, way down and very, very low, and then you did things which were the appropriate way to avoid getting re-surging [cases]. So, the bad news, and it's painful for me to see it from a distance to my place of birth, but you guys really got slammed."
Fauci went on and lauded the governor for keeping test positives across the state low.
"[T]hen you rebounded and you rebounded in a way that you kept your test positivity low, because you did the prudent things that you need to do," he explained. "And I was following it from here in Washington, and I was seeing that whenever it looked like things were getting a little out of hand, you tightened the rope a little bit. And then when things went back, you eased up a little bit. So I'm not surprised that your infection rate is really low, because I think you were doing the right things after you had a really bad serious hit in the beginning when you were there in the late winter, early spring."
Cuomo, appearing to soak up the praise, responded by telling the infectious diseases expert that the two should take the COVID-19 vaccine together as a show of unity.
"I think you have tremendous credibility, not just across the country, but across this state," he said. "And I think your voice on saying that vaccines are safe would be important. I said that as soon as the vaccine is deemed ready and safe, I'll be the first one to take a vaccine. Maybe we enlist you, I'll do it with you. We'll do an ad telling New Yorkers it's safe to take the vaccine, to put us together. We're like the modern-day De Niro and Pacino. You can be whichever you want, you can be the De Niro or Pacino. Fauci and Cuomo, I'll give you ... who do you want to be? De Niro or Pacino? Which one do you want to be?"
Fauci, laughing, responded that he is partial to both actors.
"I don't want to insult one or the other," he reasoned. "If I say one, I don't want to hurt the feelings of the other."
What did social media say?
Film critic Sean Burns quipped, "This makes sense because at the ends of their movies usually everyone is dead."
This makes sense because at the ends of their movies usually everyone is dead. https://t.co/toSqnDB56w— Sean Burns (@Sean Burns)1607372039.0
Writer Kelly Jane Torrance added, "Gov. Cuomo enjoys the pandemic like no one else."
Gov. Cuomo enjoys the pandemic like no one else. https://t.co/5bFgURrOgs— Kelly Jane Torrance (@Kelly Jane Torrance)1607395111.0
Journalist Lisa Myers chimed in, "Really? His modesty is overwhelming."
Really? His modesty is overwhelming. https://t.co/QCYs0ssrmQ— Lisa Myers (@Lisa Myers)1607370982.0
Journalist Matt Binder joked, "Is Cuomo basing his own personal comparison on the total number of people dead at the hands of Pacino and De Niro's characters in their respective movies combined[?]"
is Cuomo basing his own personal comparison on the total number of people dead at the hands of Pacino and De Niro's… https://t.co/tHF9JLs40W— Matt Binder (@Matt Binder)1607372779.0
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a news conference on coronavirus — 12/7/2020 www.youtube.com
(H/T: New York Post)