There are times when a bad defense is worse than no defense at all — and this is one of them.
It’s a lesson CNN’s Chris Cillizza should be learning after publishing a Twitter post on Sunday that apparently was intended to defend himself against well-deserved mockery for his treatment of now-embattled Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the past year.
Cillizza obviously didn’t mean to, but he just described the approach of his network — and the mainstream media as a whole — to the journalism profession in a way that was more damaging than even the Trump administration ever could.
Cillizza was taking heat over a March 31, 2020, column in which he ruminated on the possibility of Cuomo actually seeking the White House sometime after his term in Albany is over. Over the weekend, journalist and social media activist Yasher Ali posted a reminder of it, with the single word: “Yikes.”
Yikes 😬 pic.twitter.com/7Dyr56Hcdr
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 28, 2021
The piece was headlined, “Andrew Cuomo said he’ll never run for president. That’s a mistake.” And in light of the twin scandals of sexual harassment and a coronavirus coverage now engulfing the Empire State governor, it hasn’t aged well at all.
It concluded: “Politicians — particularly those with a profile like Cuomo’s — should never rule out a run for higher office. Life has a way of changing your best-laid plans.”
Now, with Cuomo’s political stock plummeting, he’ll be lucky to serve out his third term as governor, much less mount a credible run for the White House.
So, Cillizza was wrong. But there’s no particular shame in that. As he wrote, life has a way of changing things.
What was inexcusable, though, was Cillizza’s response.
“Wait,” he wrote, “so I was supposed to know — almost a year ago — about these allegations against Cuomo that have just come out?”
Wait, so I was supposed to know — almost a year ago — about these allegations against Cuomo that have just come out?
I know this website likes dunking but wow…. https://t.co/7ZMDvp30Ah
— Chris Cillizza (@ChrisCillizza) March 1, 2021
Well, no one can be expected to know the future – not even a Big Foot like Cillizza, CNN’s politics and reporter and editor-at-large. The damning part of his Twitter post, though, was the second half, about “allegations that have just come out.”
All these allegations didn’t “just come out.” While it’s true that the sexual harassment scandal has heated up considerably in recent days, with The New York Times publishing an interview Saturday with a second woman accusing Cuomo, the original sexual harassment accusation became public in December.
And months before that, the nation had learned that Cuomo had dealt with the then-burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic by issuing an order requiring New York state nursing homes to accept individuals infected with the coronavirus, and actually prohibiting the homes from testing incoming patients. To Cuomo critics, the results were predictable — and deadly.
The mainstream media had little interest, of course, having spent most of last year in embarrassing infatuation with Gov. Cuomo. (That very much includes CNN, where Cuomo’s younger brother, Chris, is another bombastic Big Foot with his “Cuomo Prime Time” nightly program.)
Besides, the mainstream media had a presidential election to win, and was so intent on ousting then-President Donald Trump in favor of the doddering, almost-certainly corrupt Democrat Joe Biden that it had no time for any coronavirus story that did not involve painting Trump or Republican governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis or South Dakota’s Kristi Noem as a villain bent on sacrificing American lives for the Almighty Dollar.
Now, of course, the nursing home scandal has gotten too big to ignore after New York’s Democratic attorney general released a scathing report Jan. 28 that accused the Cuomo administration of covering up the number of coronavirus deaths in the state by as much as 50 percent.
That same day, Cillizza had a much-different take on Andrew Cuomo’s national profile, this one headlined “Andrew Cuomo’s Covid-19 performance may have been less stellar than it seemed.”
(A similar headline from June 26, 1876, in the Montana Territory Gazette: “Gen. Custer’s Strategic Genius May Have Been Less Stellar Than It Seemed.”)
That report contained no word about the sexual harassment accusation that had been leveled against Cuomo in December.
Cillizza’s reporting was of a piece with CNN’s coverage of Cuomo overall, which has been light on the sexual harassment cases and was virtually nonexistent on the nursing home scandal for all of last year. (A search of the CNN archives for “Andrew Cuomo nursing homes” turns up only a handful of articles with headlines referring to the scandal.)
But the reality is that anyone who wished to know more about Andrew Cuomo had ample opportunity to do so. (For instance, a cursory search of The Western Journal’s archives for “Andrew Cuomo nursing homes” turned up at least 20 reports that mentioned the scandal prior to Jan. 1, and The Western Journal is far from the only non-mainstream news outlet on the internet.)
Sexual harassment, as horrible as it might be, doesn’t hold a candle to the deaths of thousands. And Cuomo’s coronavirus performance and coverup could well have been a key factor in the deaths of thousands of elderly New Yorkers.
But even if Cillizza was referring only to sexual harassment accusations, they too have been in the news for more than two months.
Cillizza’s plaintive, implied question of “how was I supposed to know?” that Andrew Cuomo isn’t presidential timber would be hard to take from anyone with a Wi-Fi connection, working knowledge of the English language and a passing interest in news.
From a man who makes a living ostensibly in the profession of gathering and reporting information, it’s inexcusable.
And Twitter users let Cillizza know it.
Chris, what would you say it is that a journalist does, anyway?
— The End Times (@TheAgeofShoddy) March 1, 2021
— Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) March 1, 2021
Chris, anyone paying attention to Cuomo and not seduced by a bunch of press conferences over the course of a couple weeks would have known better. https://t.co/TSVOMRXR99
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) March 1, 2021
I mean, I knew almost a year ago that he and several other Governors signed executive orders that amounted to death warrants for 10’s of thousands of seniors, and I’m just some random guy
— Shallow State Operative (@ShallowStateOp) March 1, 2021
But this one summed it up perfectly.
I think everyone’s point is that if you (collectively) weren’t spending so much energy hating every breath of DJT and praising every move of Cuomo while smooching his posterior, ya might have seen it. And you know it too.
— J Scott (@jscdad) March 1, 2021
Yes. If the mainstream media, with Cillizza’s “fake news” CNN in the forefront, hadn’t devoted its resources almost exclusively to the destruction of Trump’s White House and instead actually behaved like journalists, it’s a good bet Andrew Cuomo would never have achieved the “stellar” reputation he did.
It’s a better bet the country — even including CNN employees — would have learned about allegations of sexual harassment against him before now. (Imagine Cuomo’s name was, say, Brett Kavanaugh.)
And it’s a rock-solid guarantee that a staple of CNN reporting like Cillizza would not be trying to mount a defense as weak as “how could I have known?” what was really happening with the governor of one of the nation’s largest states, who also happens to be the brother of one of CNN’s star anchors.
There are times when a bad defense is no defense at all, and this is one of them.
What CNN and the rest of the mainstream media have done in the Trump years, pimping the profession of journalism for their own political purposes, is simply indefensible.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.