CNN star Chris Cuomo and Sen. Ted Cruz traded barbs on Twitter over who should be controlling women’s bodies.
Cuomo retweeted an audio clip shared by Cruz where he discussed vaccine passports. In the tweet, Cruz wrote: “This is a civil rights and individual liberty issue: There should be no federally mandated vaccine passport.”
Cuomo responded by asking the senator: “Does this liberty extend to women who want to control their bodies?” Cruz is against abortion and has described himself as a “strong advocate for the pro-life movement.”
Cruz hit back at the “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor, in an apparent reference to his brother.
“Not sure Cuomo’s [sic] should be talking about controlling women’s bodies….” Cruz wrote.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo’s brother, has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, including sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior. He has denied ever touching someone inappropriately, but apologized for acting “in a way that made people feel uncomfortable.”
Chris Cuomo got somewhat wrapped up in his brother’s scandals recently after The Washington Post reported he participated in “strategy calls” regarding how the governor should respond to the allegations.
The news caused concern from media-watch dogs and prompted CNN to release a statement calling the calls “inappropriate.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo was reportedly brought into “strategy calls” with his brother, Andrew Cuomo, and his aides to iron out a communications strategy following the litany of sexual harassment allegations leveled against the New York governor earlier this year.
Andrew Cuomo, who has denied any wrongdoing, was joined by his younger brother on “a series of conference calls that included the Democratic governor’s top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers,” according to Josh Dawsey and Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post.
CNN released a statement to The Post acknowledging the calls and describing them as a mistake.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo – on air or behind the scenes,” CNN said in the statement. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges,” the statement continued. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
CNN also told The Post that the anchor will not face any discipline over the conference calls.
“There were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice,” Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi told The Post.
The CNN anchor used the phrase “cancel culture” in one of the calls, according to two people on the line who spoke with The Post.
Chris is 13 years younger than Andrew, and the two had quite different childhoods when their father, Mario, was the 52nd governor of New York.
Andrew went to high school at St. Gerard Majella’s School in Queens before running his father’s first gubernatorial campaign in his early 20s, while Chris went to high school in Upstate New York at Albany Academy while Mario was governor in the 1980s.
Their relationship raised ethics concerns from media watchdogs when the governor would appear on his brother’s CNN show during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One segment involving a comedic bit around a PCP test swab – which aired exactly one year before Thursday’s Post story – drew substantial backlash from viewers and political rivals before the pair stopped appearing together.
New details are coming to light about how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s friends and family reportedly received special treatment early in the coronavirus pandemic, when tests were scarce and took a long time for the general public.
Multiple sources told The Washington Post that people in the governor’s “inner circle” had their samples rushed by state troopers to the lab, where they were put on the top of the pile, and received results in a matter of hours, as opposed to the weeklong waiting times that the general public endured at the time.
“There is no reason why state testing teams should have been diverted to these people,” a person with knowledge of the priority list told The Post.
A nurse also described the frenzy that occurred when site leaders told workers that Cuomo’s extended family were arriving at their testing site in late spring 2020.
“I remember them being like, ‘They’re coming, they’re coming,’ ” the nurse said. “And they would say, ‘Have the state trooper ready … have it ready to go to Wadsworth [a state lab].’ There was a lot of anxiety over those samples getting to the right place.”
“They were treated like royalty,” the nurse added. “I didn’t understand why they were able to jump the line.”
Among those who received this kind of special treatment was the clothing and footwear designer Kenneth Cole, who is married to the governor’s sister Maria, one nurse told The Post.
The Post reported that Department of Health physician Eleanor Adams was also sent multiple times out to the Hamptons to test the governor’s brother, the CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who announced last March he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
These visits to Chris Cuomo’s house sometimes lasted hours, at a time when Adams was in charge of coordinating testing issues for high-risk settings like nursing homes, two people familiar with the visits told The Post.
Cuomo’s administration has denied that the governor secured priority treatment for his friends and family.
“There was no ‘VIP’ program as the Washington Post describes – when priority was given, it was to nurses, guardsmen, state workers and other government officials central to the pandemic response and those they were in direct contact with, as well as individuals believed to have been exposed to COVID who had the capability to spread it further and impact vital operations,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told The Post.
Azzopardi said that any priority system that was made, “was built by those in charge of running the sites and the Governor had no knowledge that tests were being prioritized at those sites.”
But one nurse’s account seemed to contradict this denial, saying: “We would always hear, ‘This is coming from the governor’s chamber.'”
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Tuesday morning.
While regarded as a hero for helping lead New York through the worst of the outbreak last year, Gov. Cuomo has now found himself at the center of multiple scandals, with members of his own party calling for him to resign.
In addition to the reports that his friends and family received preferential treatment during the pandemic, Cuomo is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and a federal investigation on his office’s purported undercounting of New York’s nursing-home COVID-19 deaths.
CNN has defended Chris Cuomo after allegations that his brother, Andrew Cuomo, used his authority as governor of New York to secure family members priority coronavirus tests last year.
In statement Wednesday, the network said that Chris Cuomo was acting “as any human being would” in allegedly accepting his brother’s help.
“It is not surprising that 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,” said a spokesperson for the network told The Washington Post.
Cuomo, who has a primetime news show on CNN, has not personally commented on the allegation.
CNN did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further comment on the claims.
On March 31 last year, Chris Cuomo announced that he had tested positive for the illness, and quarantined for several weeks afterwards. He did not reveal how he had obtained a test to learn of his diagnosis.
Andrew Cuomo is facing the greatest crisis of his political career over allegations he sexually harassed female colleagues, and concealing COVID-19 nursing home deaths.
Chris Cuomo has been criticised for a series of earlier softball interviews with his brother last year over his handling of the coronavirus.
According to the report, members of Cuomo’s family were tested several times at their homes, with samples from the tests bumped to the front of the queue for processing.
The governor’s office has denied the allegation that favoritism played a role in establishing who got the test.
“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it,” said the office.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his family and other high-profile people special access to coronavirus tests in the early days of the pandemic when most New Yorkers did not have access to them, sources told The Washington Post.
The Times Union also reported Wednesday that sources said state health officials were explicitly directed by Cuomo and Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to prioritize Cuomo’s relatives and other influential figures for testing.
One of the people who is said to have benefitted? CNN anchor and the governor’s younger brother Chris Cuomo, who had COVID-19 in March of 2020.
The governor’s mother and at least one of his sisters were also said to have received priority testing, some multiple times, according to the Times Union.
State health officials visited the people’s homes to administer the tests, which were immediately processed in a state lab to quickly deliver results, three people with direct knowledge of the situation told The Post. The outlet said the lab was only equipped to process several hundred tests per day at the time.
Under New York law, it is illegal for officials or state employees to use their position “to secure unwarranted privileges” for themselves or others.
In statements provided to Insider, officials said some testing was done at people’s homes but did not name anyone specific, citing health privacy laws and ethics.
“We should avoid insincere efforts to rewrite the past. In the early days of this pandemic, when there was a heavy emphasis on contact tracing, we were absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing – including in some instances going to people’s homes, and door to door in places like New Rochelle – to take samples from those believed to have been exposed to COVID in order to identify cases and prevent additional ones,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor to Cuomo, said.
“Among those we assisted were members of the general public, including legislators, reporters, state workers, and their families who feared they had contracted the virus and had the capability to further spread it,” the statement continued.
Sources told The Post Chris Cuomo was one of the people who received a test, with a New York Department of Health Doctor visiting the CNN anchor’s home in the Hamptons.
Gary Holmes, a New York State Department of Health spokesperson, did not provide names of people who received the tests, saying: “You’re asking professionals who took an oath to protect a patient’s privacy to violate that oath and compromise their integrity. More than 43 million New Yorkers have been tested, and commenting on any of them would be a serious violation of medical ethics.”
In a statement to Washington Post media critic Eric Wemple a CNN spokesperson said: “It is not surprising that 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.”
Insider has reached out to Chris Cuomo and CNN for comment.
This was followed in February by reports that his administration withheld those numbers over fears the report might be used in an investigation – which led to calls for him to be stripped of his emergency powers.
Chris, who hosts the weeknight “Cuomo Prime Time” show, addressed the issue on Monday.
“Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother,” he said. “And obviously, I cannot cover it, because he is my brother. Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it, extensively, and they will continue to do so.”
He continued by saying he cares “deeply” about the issues involved, but that he would be using his show to look at other news.
Media commentators have accused the anchor of having a conflict of interest in former coverage of his brother, having conducted several friendly interviews with him over the past year.
A network ban on interviews between the two – in place since 2013 – was lifted in March last year as New York emerged as a hot spot for COVID-19, making coverage of the city a major news item, The New York Times reported. And at the end of March, the governor tested positive for the virus.