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Gaslighting: Cuomo Lies and Deflects in First Presser After Nursing Home Scandal Breaks Through

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Scandal-plagued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a press conference yesterday afternoon in which he addressed the controversies engulfing his administration. It's difficult to know how or where to even begin the process of fact-checking his astoundingly dishonest performance. As it unfolded, conservative writer Seth Mandel asked, "Has Cuomo said anything in this presser so far that isn't an outright lie? Not yet, far as I can tell." Upon its conclusion, Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean – who lost both of her in-laws in New York nursing homes, and who has been sneered at by Cuomo's boorish Praetorian guard – tweeted incredulously, "After that complete BS of a press conference, I’m at a loss for words." Indeed. Consider the following arguments and assertions. After complaining that this scandal has arisen from a "toxic political environment," Cuomo set out to deny that anything we know about the situation isn't real. Hardcore, textbook gaslighting:


(1) "The patients were not sent to nursing homes," Cuomo said. He's attempted a version of this lie before, but this is a new spin on it. Cuomo's executive action required elder care facilities to admit and readmit COVID-positive residents. This is not in dispute, no matter how hard he lies. Here is an October fact check from the governor's brother's network, CNN, in October:

Cuomo's assertion that "it never happened" is false. According to a report from the New York State Department of Health, "6,326 COVID-positive residents were admitted to [nursing home] facilities" following Cuomo's mandate that nursing homes accept the readmission of Covid-positive patients from hospitals. Whether or not this was "needed," it did in fact happen..."No resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the [nursing home] solely based on a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19," the advisory stated. "[Nursing homes] are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission."

Not only were nursing homes required by law to accept these sick patients, Cuomo's order prohibited them from requiring a Coronavirus test at the point of readmission. "It didn't happen" is just a crazy lie.

(2) I'll also note that the actual number was not 6,326. "More than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York state were released from hospitals into nursing homes early in the pandemic under a controversial directive that was scrapped amid criticism it accelerated outbreaks," the Associated Press reported last week, based on records they obtained. "The new number of 9,056 recovering patients sent to hundreds of nursing homes is more than 40% higher than what the state health department previously released." In other words, what Cuomo is still saying never happened did in fact happen – and it happened much more than his administration admitted, which is a huge element of this scandal. And no, this wasn't the federal government's fault.


(3) Just amazing:

This is another lie, resting on a stupid distinction that he hopes will fool people. New York is not accused, to my knowledge, of deliberately undercounting overall COVID deaths. What Cuomo's team did was undercount deaths linked to long-term care facilities like nursing homes. The reason is obvious: The governor had issued a lethal edict that got a bunch of old people killed, and the administration wanted to make that grave error look less deadly than it was. Far from "fully and publicly" reporting the real statistics, the state changed its LTC death counting process in order to misleadingly and hugely underreport those fatalities. This is not up for debate. It was reported in a deep dive by the Associated Press and has been confirmed by Cuomo's own Attorney General, a fellow Democrat. It's wild that these basic facts must be reiterated, but they must, given the shamelessness of Cuomo's lies. And by the way, the updated, much higher New York nursing home death toll is reportedly still not comprehensive:

Hundreds of COVID-19 deaths among New York state’s nursing home residents still have not been formally acknowledged by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to the Empire Center, a public policy think tank in Albany. Bill Hammond, an analyst with the Empire Center, said recent state disclosures of all deaths of nursing home residents, whether they perished in their facilities or at local hospitals, to date failed to include more than 650 deaths of people presumed to have died of COVID-19.

(4) We also know, by the recent admission of a top Cuomo aide, that the true numbers were withheld from the public and various authorities because Cuomo believed LTC fatalities had become a "political football" and his administration was not "sure if what we were going to give to the Department of Justice, or what we give to you guys, what we start saying, was going to be used against us.” That's what Cuomo's senior aide told Democratic lawmakers, on tape and in private. That admission caused her fellow Democrats to respond with anger. This isn't some Republican fever dream. Here is a progressive Democratic state senator in New York, just a few days ago:

(5) I don't even know what to say to this:

The governor is trying to get us to believe that forcing thousands of COVID-positive patients into buildings packed with elderly and vulnerable people did not cause infections or deaths in those facilities. This makes absolutely no sense. The more infected people you put into an indoor place, the greater the spread of the virus will be. That's beyond obvious. This policy took a dangerous situation and made it catastrophic. We also know that dozens of these nursing homes were COVID-free before sick residents were forced into them: "Some 58 nursing homes did not have a single case of a sickened staff member or resident prior to the arrival of a COVID patient from the hospital."  


As for Cuomo's claim that he "paused" compliance with state legislature requests for nursing home deaths data in order to comply with a federal request, two points: First, why would one preclude the other? If the state was keeping full and accurate records (they weren't), why couldn't those be sent along to anyone seeking them in very short order? Did Cuomo's administration actually comply with a federal probe? Did they do so truthfully and accurately (and how likely is that, given all of their conduct on this matter, and in light of the aide's comments about trying to avoid bad data being used against them)? Was that investigation shut down by the Biden administration? Dean would like receipts:

I'll leave you with Cuomo suggesting, with some serious Mad King vibes, that the legislature dominated by his party is acting criminally in their nascent efforts to hold him even somewhat accountable:


And before you go, I'll add this: If Cuomo had been more humble, more transparent, and less political much earlier on, this fiasco wouldn't be blowing up in his face. He could have said something like, "In the fog of war, in those horrific early days, we made a mistake. We didn't realize how bad of a mistake it was at first, and others made the same mistake. We are very sorry and heartbroken for those who lost loved ones in our nursing homes. We rescinded the order as it became clearer that it hadn't worked the way we'd intended. If we could go back, we would have done things differently, obviously. By the grace of God, despite our wrong call, New York ended suffering a lower percentage of losses in this category than some other states. It's just a terrible situation for everyone." But he didn't do or say that. He made a terrible call, then set about to cover it up and lie about it for months while parading around the country and the media celebrating his own leadership prowess. He's still lying about it. His stats and assurances cannot be believed. That's the true disgrace here.

UPDATE - I addressed this on Fox News last night:

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