A second Emmy would not be good enough for that performance. Only an Oscar will do. After all, it takes an uncommon actor to pretend to be telling the truth and nothing but the truth when you are telling everything but the truth.
Gov. Cuomo’s latest bid to tame the cascading waves of criticism over his handling of the nursing home catastrophe was so riddled with falsehoods and misinformation that it’s hard to know what he was thinking. Does he really believe he’s viewed as a trustworthy person whose word is taken at face value in Albany and beyond?
If so, then he must stop listening to his CNN brother and the people paid to say what he wants to hear. Because there aren’t a lot of buyers for his B.S., even among fellow Democrats, many of whom are in open revolt against him.
The most obvious takeaway from Monday’s act is that Cuomo still accepts zero responsibility for the 15,000 deaths in nursing homes and similar facilities. His only feint toward self-criticism is that he didn’t get information out fast enough. That “void,” he said “was filed with skepticism, cynicism and conspiracy theories which furthered confusion.”
This is a tired political trick, insisting the only issue is one of public relations and messaging. In fact, it was Cuomo himself who created the cynicism and conspiracy theories.
Recall that he labeled all criticism of the nursing home disaster pure “politics” and blamed God, The Post, Donald Trump, federal health officials, nursing home operators, their staffs, grieving families and anybody else — except himself.
He also continues to distort the content of the infamous March 25th order that required nursing homes to take patients infected with the coronavirus. His claim that the facilities were given the option to say no if they couldn’t care for those patients is false.
Nowhere does the order say that. Quite the opposite, it says “all NHs must comply with the expedited receipt of residents returning from hospitals to NHs.” It says the hospital makes the decision and adds: “No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the NH solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19. NHs are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”
The order took effect immediately, and home operators told The Post their efforts to delay accepting the infected patients or have them sent to the nearly-empty Javits Center or the Naval ship Comfort were denied, though the state did send them body bags.
Some if not most facilities did not have protective equipment or room to separate COVID patients from others, and very few had enough staff that could be assigned to either COVID or COVID-free patients. It didn’t matter — the order allowed no exceptions or delays.
It was in effect from March 25th until May 10th, when Cuomo effectively rescinded it and it was soon scrubbed from state Web sites. In total, some 9,000 infected COVID patients were sent from hospitals to nursing homes and similar facilities.
Those unshakeable facts alone undercut everything Cuomo says. His repeated falsehoods about the order and its impact are the ultimate sign of bad faith because he had to know the danger in sending COVID-19 patients into facilities filled with the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Yet he did it and still defends it.
Another piece of Fake News Monday was his claim that “all deaths in nursing homes were fully, publicly and accurately reported.” Later he added, “Nothing was hidden.”
The truth is that, when Attorney General and Democratic ally Letitia James released her report in late January saying Cuomo had undercounted nursing home deaths by 50 percent, the state was reporting about 8,700 deaths in such facilities. The number now stands at about 15,000 — because of the James report and because a judge ordered Cuomo to release the numbers in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit.
Many of those deaths go back months and months, and Cuomo had refused to release the totals, so ignore his claims to the contrary. One result is that, as others have noted, his Emmy and book contract were awarded based on false and incomplete information. Had the deaths been promptly reported, he probably would not have been feted by Hollywood or received a fat publisher’s check.
He should return both.
While much of his Monday performance was infuriating, there were also elements of tragedy and sadness because the governor comes across as cold and heartless.
The nature of nursing-home deaths was especially brutal in that loved ones had been banned from the facilities and many families couldn’t even talk to their dying parents and relatives. Some couldn’t hold funerals.
Yet Cuomo has refused to meet with bereaved families or even respond personally by e-mail or phone with many who have tried to reach him. Fox meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost both of her in-laws in nursing homes, challenged him to hold a town hall with bereaved families. Cuomo ignored her and his staff insulted her.
Although the governor keeps talking about his father’s death and says, “I understand,” and “I get it” about family grief, it doesn’t come across as genuine sympathy. Instead, it looks and feels like one more piece of armor designed to shield him from responsibility.
It’s not working. He can run but he can’t hide from the truth.