A new report from CNBC — based on interviews with unnamed sources who were present at the discussions — alleges that disgraced CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired from the liberal network last week, worked with his brother's top aides to discredit Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, a fierce critic of the Cuomo administration's handling of the nursing home scandal.
What's the background?
Dean was one of disgraced former Governor Andrew Cuomo's sharpest and earliest critics during the pandemic, after her in-laws died of complications of COVID-19 in a New York nursing home. Dean's in-laws died in March and April of 2020 after Gov. Cuomo's infamous order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. After this, Dean relentlessly criticized Cuomo on Twitter and in other forums, accusing him of being responsible for the death of her in-laws and thousands of other nursing home patients in New York.
According to the CNBC report, Dean's criticism must have found the mark, because the governor's team hatched a plot to discredit her as a "right-wing commentator." The report states that Gov. Cuomo's top aide, Melissa DeRosa, asked CNN's Chris Cuomo for help digging up information that might be detrimental to Dean's credibility. CNBC's sources did not know whether Chris Cuomo followed through with this request.
A separate report from the New York Post claims that Cuomo reached out to DeRosa, perhaps before this strategy session, asking for DeRosa's permission to go after "this Fox weather b***h... any help painting her as a far right crazy?"
Both DeRosa and Chris Cuomo refused to respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
A spokesperson for Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially stated to CNBC, "We had no ‘strategy sessions’ about Janice Dean and to the extent that the press office had to respond to something she said, it was handled by the press office and did not rise to the level of something the governor would be engaged with." However, after the CNBC report — which specifically stated that Andrew was, in fact, present for at least one strategy session dealing with Dean — the spokesperson clarified, "I have no knowledge of this ever happening and you must ask, why then did the Attorney General not put anything about it in her report or ask any of the relevant people about it."
For her part, Dean told CNBC, "As I have said from day one, this was never about politics. I watched first-hand how the governor’s office treated grieving families trying to get answers about the March 25th 2020 executive order to admit over 9,000 Covid positive patients into nursing homes. Instead of addressing our concerns or expressing their condolences, Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi called us a ‘death cult’ and told my sister in law to ‘get a life’ not long after both her parents died."
Chris Cuomo was fired, in part, for acting as a political adviser to his politician brother while pretending to be an objective news anchor, an obvious breach of basic journalistic ethics, as well as lying on air about the extent of his involvement with Andrew's crisis management team. According to an internal CNN review, he was also accused of sexual harassment, although he denies those allegations.