In some of their infamous, jokey interviews in 2020, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo repeated a tabloid nickname for his older brother Andrew Cuomo, now embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal: “The Love Gov.”
Gov. Cuomo loved it, and left-wing press went crazy for the idea of the Democrat as both a great coronavirus leader and an eligible bachelor. The former already hadn’t aged well with news of a suspected nursing home death cover-up, and now the latter doesn’t look so great either.
“I’ve always been a soft guy,” Gov. Cuomo told his brother at one point. “I am the Love Gov. I’m a cool dude in a loose mood. You know that. I just say let it go. Just go with the flow, baby.”
While humorous to some at the time – NBC praised the “comedy duo” in one article – the joking approach to his love life may not sit well now that Cuomo is implicated in rampant harassment of former and current employees, according to a scathing state Attorney General report released this week.
In another interview, Chris Cuomo said his brother was “single and ready to mingle.” It was in line with some of the media coverage that swooned over the brothers’ playful exchanges and made a sex symbol out of a governor whose career may well be threatened.
Left-wing pundit Molly Jong-Fast, in a Vogue piece headlined, “Why We Are Crushing on Andrew Cuomo Right Now,” gushed over her “love” for Cuomo and his “soothing” voice, calling him her “imaginary boyfriend.”
“There’s something nice about having someone in government whom you can actually trust,” Jong-Fast wrote.
Far-left website Jezebel posted a column, “Help, I Think I’m In Love With Andrew Cuomo???”, also fawning over the Democrat.
“I’ve started laughing at his little jokes,” Rebecca Fishbein wrote. “I catch myself touching my hair (not my face!) when he talks about an increase in testing capacity. I swooned when he told a reporter he had his own workout routine. I have watched a clip of him and brother Chris Cuomo bickering about their mother at least 20 times. I think I have a crush???”
Cuomo has been accused of unwanted kissing and touching, in addition to inappropriate language, such as telling one woman his ideal girlfriend could “handle pain” and asking an aide to play “strip poker.” Part of Cuomo’s defense for his conduct was there’s a generational difference between him and his accusers, downplaying some of his comments as merely bad jokes.
Lindsay Nielsen, a former Albany-based investigative reporter who has accused Cuomo’s administration of intimidation and bullying, told Fox News the media hadn’t necessarily enabled his behavior but there was a clear disconnect between who Cuomo is and how he’s portrayed to the public.
“I think the culture in Albany and in that administration has always been that way,” she said. “So I know there’s a lot of information coming out right now and obviously in the past couple of weeks, but to those of us that were working in Albany and I’m sure those that were in the executive chamber and his staff and his administration, I know to a lot of us that dealt with that side of it, this isn’t new stuff, you know what I mean? A lot of people knew him and his staff for this toxic culture in these situations and, I guess we didn’t have the same view that the public maybe had with him.”
Cuomo’s personal life even became entertainment and tabloid fodder; his sister-in-law Cristina told Entertainment Tonight that she was fielding texts and calls from women hoping to date the newly single governor. An accompanying ET video talked about the trending hashtag #CuomoSexual. Cuomo split up with his longtime girlfriend in 2019, whom he began dating after his 2005 divorce.
In a gushing interview with Cuomo last year on “Good Morning America,” ABC’s Amy Robach cited the reports as well as liberal comedian Chelsea Handler’s essay about wanting to be Cuomo’s “first lady.”
“You’ve been portrayed as some sort of a homecoming king of this crisis … Your reaction to all that, your daughters’ reaction to all of that?” she asked, referring to the coverage as “levity in some of the praise you’ve received.”
Cuomo chuckled that his daughters dismissed the speculation about his love life, but he called it “nice.”
Robach’s interview was emblematic of most mainstream media coverage at the time, which gave short shrift to Cuomo’s controversial nursing home policy and instead promoted him as a truth-telling, dynamic leader for New Yorkers in the pandemic. Figures like MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace and CNN’s Brian Stelter gushed over him, respectively calling him “one of the heroes on the front lines” and someone whose advice he would repeat to his children.
“If there was no President Trump, then it’s doubtful the level of this slobbering would have occurred,” The Hill’s media columnist Joe Concha told Fox News. “Cuomo played the role of COVID’s anti-Trump. His PowerPoint presentation — all sizzle and no steak — were lauded in the press to the point he negotiated a $5 million dollar book deal and won an Emmy.”
Now the love affair is over. Abandoned by his party, Cuomo faces calls to resign from President Joe Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Democratic state lawmakers, as well as New York’s major newspapers.
Nielsen hopes that the examples of the women who came forward, as well as accounts like hers of bullying by the administration, illuminate press coverage going forward.
“The women that came forward, I think it’s going to change a lot, and I hope it does change the media coverage,” she said. “I hope the media going forward does focus on those types of stories of the people that have come forward and are listening to that and are more critical, you know, about these types of situations.”