CNN appeared to have made a bad situation worse Wednesday with its response to a bombshell report that star anchor Chris Cuomo personally benefited from receiving priority for COVID testing in the early weeks of the pandemic.
The Albany-based Times Union newspaper reported late Wednesday that “high-level members” of New York’s Department of Health were directed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to “conduct prioritized coronavirus testing on the governor’s relatives as well as influential people with ties to the administration.”
“Members of Cuomo’s family including his brother, his mother and at least one of his sisters were also tested by top health department officials — some several times, the sources said,” according to the Times Union.
The “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 31. As the paper noted, the diagnosis came “at a time when many members of the public struggled to obtain coronavirus tests.”
It is unclear, however, whether Chris Cuomo himself, CNN, or New York State taxpayers funded the test that showed the positive test results.
CNN head of strategic communications Matt Dornic did not appear alarmed by the latest Cuomo bombshell.
“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would,” Dornic told Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple.
Other critics immediately blasted the pro-Cuomo network on Twitter for appearing to normalize its anchor’s relationship with one of the nation’s top Democrats.
“HOO boy who thought THIS would help?” former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann exclaimed.
“that is a very bad statement,” San Jose Mercury News editor Daniel Jimenez reacted.
“A long-winded version of ‘Don’t you know who I am?'” radio host Derek Hunter tweeted.
“Big yikes,” Tablet Magazine associate editor Noam Blum wrote.
“‘anyone’ here being the governor of New York, his brother, who he was also having on his television show,” Gotham Gazette executive editor Ben Max pointed out.
“The lack of ethics here from CNN is incredible,” tweeted conservative writer A.G. Hamilton. “It’s not just that Andrew Cuomo abused his position to get friends and family (inc Chris) inaccessible and expedited tests, but that CNN then had Andrew Cuomo do weekly joke interviews with his brother knowing that abuse happened,”
“CNN and its employees *never* admit wrongdoing. It’s amazing,” Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross concluded.
According to the Times Union, epidemiologist Dr. Eleanor Adams was sent to the CNN anchor’s residence in Long Island to test him. It is unclear if she was the one who administered his positive test results.
State Police troopers were reportedly ordered to drive such COVID tests, which were referred to as “critical samples,” to the Wadsworth Center laboratory in Albany.
A Cuomo administration official told the Albany paper, “It’s being a little bit distorted with like a devious intent. … We made sure to test people they believed were exposed.” The official added: “All of this was being done in good faith in an effort to trace the virus.”
CNN did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Despite benefiting from prioritized treatment by the Cuomo administration, Chris Cuomo appeared to flout his own brother’s COVID lockdown restrictions by leaving his home as he was recovering from the virus. In April of last year, the anchor reportedly got in a verbal confrontation on the lawn of another property with a cyclist who called him out for violating the governor’s policies.