In December 2013, CNN host Chris Cuomo made a promise: In order to protect his objectivity as a journalist, he wouldn’t interview his brother, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, about politics.
“I think it’s obvious. If it’s about his political career, his political actions or things that he must answer for, that’s for somebody else,” Cuomo told fellow CNN host Brooke Baldwin.
CNN Cuomo was facing criticism at the time for interviewing Gov. Cuomo about a train derailment in New York.
New York Magazine writer Dan Amira, for example, argued that Chris Cuomo’s own criteria should have precluded him from interviewing the governor about a train crash.
“If Governor Cuomo’s response to a crisis is cast in a positive light on national television, that obviously helps his political career. And the person interviewing the governor is in a position to cast him in a more positive or negative light,” Amira wrote.
If the CNN anchor had arguably violated his own standard in 2013, he has indisputably done so with his running series of interviews with his brother about the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit New York harder than any other state.
Three Mondays in a row, Gov. Cuomo has appeared on Chris Cuomo’s primetime show, where the anchor has fed his brother softball question after softball question.
“With all of this adulation that you’re getting for doing your job, are you thinking about running for President?” Cuomo asked Cuomo. “Tell the audience.”
Chris Cuomo later said the governor was “doing the right thing, talking to the audience, being open with the media. I know you’re working your tail off for everybody.”
On March 23, Cuomo asked Cuomo: “What is the day like now? How is it managing a situation like this, I’m not talking emotionally, I’m just saying in terms of the daily activities, what is this like?”
Another question from the same show: “Let me ask you something, why do you think New York is getting so much attention right now. People have such a spotlight on you that they’re watching your pressers every day. What do you think it’s about personally?”
The next question after that: “You’re the man right now. Why is that?”
And another: “Do you think that, when you assess this, people who don’t know you, obviously you raised me, so I understand how you do things, because you taught me, but in assessing, what was the right move that you’ve made so far and what was a wrong move you made? Because the president talks about learning things and then he talks about washing hands. I don’t know how profound a lesson that is. What have you learned on your level?”
And another: “So it’s going to get worse. The hospitalizations are increasing. You want people to know that even though it’s a tough message to deliver. That type of tough talk has had people recognize you in a different way even though you’ve been doing this job a long time. You’re in your third term. How do you explain to yourself how people seem to be seeing you in a different way now, even physically, making comments about how you look and how you come across that are really hard to kind of square with any sense of reality?”
In the March 16 interview, Cuomo asked Cuomo: “What is working and not working for you?”
“The question becomes, it is no secret that the people around the president, let’s take him out of the equation, they know that you have capacity issues. They have not enlisted the military. What does that tell you?”
A CNN spokesperson did not return a request for comment on the contradiction between Chris Cuomo’s 2013 pledge and his current series of his interviews with his brother.
At the same time that Chris Cuomo has given his brother glowing coverage, he’s been sharply critical of President Donald Trump.
He said on March 27 that Trump’s character flaws “are literally making us sick.” He added that America has “done the least to stop the spread, and that’s on Trump. He slept on this. He lied about it. And now he is not doing enough.”
The CNN anchor revealed Tuesday that he tested positive for coronavirus after coming in contact with somebody else who had the virus. For the time being, he’ll continue hosting “Cuomo Prime Time” from his basement.
The show’s slogan: “When he faces power, no one gets a pass.”