CNN must investigate host Chris Cuomo over special Covid-19 tests, says Society of Professional Journalists


Media Chris Cuomo (2019 Invision)

The oldest journalism organisation in the US says CNN should investigate host Chris Cuomo over reports he got special Covid testing from his brother, New York governor Andrew Cuomo.

Society of Professional Journalists president Matthew Hall told The Hill the Prime Time anchor should immediately address claims that have placed a “cloud” over CNN’s credibility.

“Do they have a code of ethics? Do they have something that would guide this situation and that would spell out sanctions for potential violations?” Mr Hall told The Hill’s media reporter, Thomas Moore.

“CNN should do an internal probe as well and see if Chris upheld its internal policy and if not, [decide] what it would do.”

Reports Mr Cuomo received special treatment in the early days of the pandemic come amid the impeachment probe of his older brother, who is facing multiple scandals over sexual harassment claims and an alleged cover-up of Covid nursing home death data.

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Attorney general Letitia James urged the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics to investigate claims of preferential testing first published in the Times Union of Albany, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

The probe would investigate whether the governor unlawfully used his office to provide his family, including the CNN host, his mother, and at least one sister, special access to tests at the start of the pandemic.

Governor spokesman Rich Azzopardi sought to dispute the notion in a statement, according to Associated Press.

While he did not confirm or deny people close to Mr Cuomo said in a statement to the Associated Press they were “absolutely going above and beyond to get people tested” in the early days of the pandemic.

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“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 tested,” the statement said.

In some instances, the effort to prevent the spread included “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”.

In a statement on Wednesday, CNN spokesperson Matt Dornic said it was not surprising the host would turn “to anyone he could for advice and assistance” when he was showing Covid symptoms in the earliest days of the pandemic.

“We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees,” the statement said.

The network incorporated the positive Covid-19 diagnosis of Mr Cuomo into its programming, airing a segment on the host emerging from his basement after supposedly quarantining throughout the illness.

According to the East Hampton police complaint, however, Mr Cuomo previously left the basement when he threatened 65-year-old Long Island man, David Whelan, for pointing out his breaking of quarantine rules.

“I said to him, ‘Your brother is the coronavirus czar, and you’re not even following his rules — unnecessary travel’,” Mr Whelan told The New York Post.

While Mr Cuomo is currently on pre-planned vacation, according to the network, he has previously said he can’t cover allegations against his brother, the governor, over a conflict of interest.

That’s despite interviewing the governor throughout the coronavirus pandemic even as he faced questions over New York’s Covid nursing home deaths.

Mr Hall said the journalist should be upfront about the claims of receiving special treatment from his brother and address the situation on his show immediately.

“He should probably grant interviews from outside sources, from journalists outside CNN. I think that would help to answer questions about this that people are going to have,” he told The Hill.


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