When it came to coverage of the Andrew Cuomo sexual-harassment scandal, it was a tale of two networks this morning. MSNBC's Morning Joe devoted its entire first half-hour to covering the story in all its lurid detail. And no fewer than nine times, Morning Joe referenced CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who advised brother Andrew during the scandal.
Over on CNN's New Day, the Cuomo segment was buried 22 minutes deep into the opening half-hour (other than teases for the story). And even then, only a measly five minutes were devoted to the scandal. Mentions of Chris Cuomo's involvement? Zero. A measure of how badly CNN wanted to bury the story: New Day reported on Barack Obama's birthday party plans before finding a few minutes for the Cuomo scandal.
Among other commentators, Morning Joe brought on Susan Del Percio. And speaking of burying things, in its chyron [see video clip] Morning Joe continued to bill Del Percio as a "Republican strategist" In fact, Del Percio's most recent "strategery" gig dates back seven years to when she was an advisor to—yup—Democrat Andrew Cuomo!
Whereas Mika Brzezinski introduced Del Percio only as someone with "experience in New York politics" without mentioning her Cuomo connection, it was left to Del Percio herself to later mention that, "I was with the governor's office back in 2014."
That said, when Del Percio got rolling, she absolutely unloaded on Cuomo. She said there was "no defense" for his actions, and scalded him for opening his video statement by saying, "this has been very difficult for me and my family." Del Percio pointed out that it's also been very difficult for at least 11 other people—Cuomo's alleged victims.
Del Percio branded Cuomo's video a "disgrace," and went on to say that Cuomo's behavior, based on her experience with him, was "shocking but not surprising."
Del Percio also repeatedly raised Chris Cuomo's involvement with Andrew. In addition to advising Cuomo during the current scandal, Del Percio mentioned that in 2014, at a time she was working for Cuomo, Chris [who was already at CNN] was "in the governor's office" during the Moreland Commission mess. That was a commission Cuomo had set up supposedly to investigate corruption in New York government. But as the New York Times reported, Cuomo undermined the commission when it got uncomfortably close to implicating . . . Cuomo himself!
Before Del Percio spoke, MSNBC's John Heilemann opined that "the end is in sight now" for Cuomo. Heilemann went on to describe Chris Cuomo's entanglement with his scandal-engulfed brother, and how that creates "ethical issues" for Chris at CNN.
Here's some of Heilemann:
The end is in sight now. The question is how Governor Cuomo decides to go down, and I just don’t think there are going to be many people around him. One of the few people that will be around him, I think, is his brother Chris Cuomo. And you know, we knew about this Chris Cuomo thing. Chris Cuomo got in some trouble at CNN when some of this came to light earlier in the course of this story. So this isn’t exactly new. But the fact that -- I think a lot of people will raise questions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the governor talking to his brother. I think there are some questions, legitimate questions, that have been raised about whether a CNN anchor should be giving private advice to an elected official, whether he's his brother or not. And I think Chris Cuomo's been reprimanded for that already. There’s an ethical question on that side of the house.
There was nothing inherently inaccurate in New Day's short segment. The show did report the accusations against Cuomo, and depicted him as being very isolated. New Day's sins were ones of omission. In stark contrast with Morning Joe, New Day didn't bring on any analysts or commentators to blast Cuomo. This, in addition to its convenient failure to mention its own Chris Cuomo's involvement. Co-host John Berman ended the segment with a bland, "we're watching."
Note: Our video clip begins with an amusing moment. Joe Scarborough—his tongue buried firmly in his cheek—says "it must have hurt" NYC Mayor De Blasio to have put out a statement calling on Cuomo to resign or be impeached. In fact, De Blasio and Cuomo have been famously feuding for years, and nothing likely gives De Blasio more pleasure than to view Cuomo's current predicament. Morning Joe had De Blasio on during its second hour to let Hizzoner unload at length on Cuomo.
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Here's the transcript. Click "expand" to read more.
6:14 am EDT
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The Mayor of New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio, who's no fan of the governor, wrote in part, "he must resign, and if he continues to resist and attack the investigators who did their jobs, he should be impeached immediately."
JOE SCARBOROUGH: [facetiously] You know that had to hurt the mayor to have to write that.
. . .
MIKA: Let’s bring in NBC News and MSNBC national affairs analyst, host and executive producer of Showtime's The Circus, and host of the Hell and High Water podcast from The Recount, John Heilemann, and political strategist, with experience in New York politics, Susan Del Percio.
SCARBOROUGH: Yeah! Yeah!
MIKA: John, I would like to start with you! Susan’s the expert here.
. . .
JOHN HEILEMANN: The end is in sight now. The question is how Governor Cuomo decides to go down, and I just don’t think there are going to be many people around him. One of the few people that will be around him, I think, is his brother Chris Cuomo. And you know, we knew about this Chris Cuomo thing. Chris Cuomo got in some trouble at CNN when some of this came to light earlier in the course of this story. So this isn’t exactly new. But the fact that -- I think a lot of people will raise questions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the governor talking to his brother. I think there are some questions, legitimate questions, that have been raised about whether a CNN anchor should be giving private advice to an elected official, whether he's his brother or not. And I think Chris Cuomo's been reprimanded for that already. There’s an ethical question on that side of the house.
. . .
WILLIE GEIST: What did you make of his statement? I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by it, knowing him, but as a defense of his actions, what did you make of it?
SUSAN DEL PERCIO: Well, first of all, there is no defense for his actions. We have a report that shows what he did, and it was all backed up with others' testimony. And that he thought he could go out and victim-blame? Let’s also not forget how he started his statement, which was to say, this has been very difficult for me and my family. Well, guess what? We know at least 11 other people who this has been very difficult for.
So, that’s typical Andrew Cuomo. So let’s not make a mistake about that. This is the way he tackles things. No one does defiance better than he does. That video was a disgrace . . .
And yet, we say this about some things with Trump: it’s shocking but not surprising. This is how he operates, and it’s consistent. I was with the governor’s office back in 2014 during Moreland, and it’s the same kind of defiance we saw. The Moreland Commission was about ethics that led to one of his staffers, Joe Percoco, being convicted of ethics charges.
But his brother was there, too, by the way. Heilemann brings it up: this is not an unusual thing for the Cuomos to get together. I saw Chris Cuomo in the governor’s office back then. [Editor's note: Chris Cuomo was already at CNN at the time.] I’m not surprised it happened now. He’s very consistent.