Ever since the COVID pandemic subsumed most countries on the planet, there have been numerous scandals and controversies relating to those who corruptly obtain medical privileges and other exemptions unavailable to ordinary citizens. These scandals typically arise when someone uses their wealth, power or connections to jump in front of others for access to potentially life-saving procedures or medications or grant themselves and their friends license to ignore what everyone else must endure.
Right now in Brazil, for instance, there is a burgeoning scandal from reports that a group of businesspeople with ties to the government arranged to purchase their own private stash of vaccines for use for themselves, families and friends in violation of the law. In the U.S., people were outraged when very young members of Congress were among the first to receive the vaccine (though the law permitted them to do so); those young Congressmembers justified their line-jumping on the ground that they were doing so selflessly to encourage others. Meanwhile, other members of Congress refused this privilege on the ground, as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) put it, that it is “shameful” for young lawmakers to believe they “are more important” than workers. Repeatedly in the U.S., politicians were caught exempting themselves from lockdown orders they were imposing on everyone else.
But those pale in comparison to the abuse of power by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and his brother, CNN host Chris Cuomo, as reported on Wednesday by The Albany-Times Union and The Washington Post. “High-level members of the state Department of Health were directed last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and 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,” reported the Times-Union. “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,” it added.
In particular, Gov. Cuomo abused state resources to ensure that his then-49-year-old brother, Chris, received fast COVID testing at a time when tests were very scarce. “The CNN anchor was swabbed by a top New York Department of Health doctor, who visited his Hamptons home to collect samples from him and his family,” The Post reported. The article also contains these damning details:
The same doctor who tested Chris Cuomo, Eleanor Adams, now a top adviser to the state health commissioner, also was enlisted to test multiple other Cuomo family members….The coronavirus test specimens were then rushed — at times driven by state police troopers — to the Wadsworth Center, a state public health lab in Albany, where they were processed immediately, the people said. At times, employees in the state health laboratory were kept past their shifts until late into the night to process results of those close to Cuomo, two people said.
All of this commandeering of state resources to provide the CNN host with very specialized medical attention occurred while “media reports were full of accounts from New Yorkers desperate to get tested — including some with symptoms and recent travel history who were turned away because of scarcity.”
For more than a year now, CNN’s promotion of “interviews” conducted by Chris Cuomo of his own brother — in which the CNN host repeatedly heaped lavish praise on Gov. Cuomo and even hyped him as a presidential contender while the Governor was corruptly and possibly criminally covering up COVID deaths — was one of the most glaring breaches of journalistic ethics imaginable. It was not cute or charming. It was corrupt. And it aggressively deceived CNN’s audience. That they knew it was corrupt was evidenced by the CNN host’s recent announcement that he would not cover his brother’s recent scandals: what conceivable framework makes it journalistically permissible for a news host to shower his own brother with praise, but then not cover his scandals?