What’s behind Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s obsession with The Post

We’re bracing for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to start charging us rent — we’re basically living in his head.

He not only still blames The Post for the public furor over the thousands of COVID-19 deaths in New York
nursing homes, he now also says we’re the villains behind the rising coronavirus caseloads in Arizona and Florida.

Our corporate cousins at The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, are behind Texas’ corona-woes.


Let’s take the (slightly) more serious charge first. It’s not new: The gov has been insisting for some time that New Yorkers are blaming him for the local nursing-home deaths (more than 6,300, and possibly more than 12,000) only because, as he put it Friday, “It is a political issue. I think it is the New York Post,” particularly columnists Michael Goodwin and Bob McManus, and also “Fox TV.”

What the Post news and opinion pages (as well as other outlets, such as ProPublica) actually did was report accurately on the state Health Department’s March 25 order that homes accept patients without regard to their COVID-19 status — indeed, without even testing for the virus. The state eventually retreated from that order, but only after weeks of negative publicity, and without ever admitting that it was nuts.

It was plain early on, weeks before March 25, that the virus was especially dangerous to the elderly. Forcing homes to take these patients clearly added new risks for those already there, as the bug jumped from the infected to the caretakers and everyone else in the buildings. The only real question is how many needless additional deaths ensued.

When The Post’s Bernadette Hogan first asked about the order, Cuomo claimed ignorance — but he has stood behind the supposed wisdom of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker’s mandate ever since. Any failure, he insists, is the fault of the Trump administration, which issued a guidance that Cuomo insists required Zucker to enact the nursing-home policy — although other states read the guidance very differently.

In fact, it’s obvious that Zucker simply overfocused on ensuring that hard-pressed hospitals had somewhere they could send recovered (but still infectious) patients. The fact that many homes just weren’t prepared to isolate the infected (and provide adequate protective gear for their caregivers) didn’t matter.

Zucker has since produced a study that argues the order didn’t lead to needless infections (or, if it did, it was all the homes’ fault) — but neither he nor Cuomo will agree to an independent look at the facts, despite calls all across the political spectrum for just that.

It was a Post question about such an outside review that set him off Friday. But if it’s just “politics,” as he claims, why does he treat the thought of an independent study as a threat?

As for the Arizona-Florida-Texas question: On Sunday, Cuomo bristled at the thought of opening up New York a bit faster, since lockdowns have tanked the economy even as metrics, such as new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, keep hitting new lows.

“The Wall Street Journal, New York Post — they continue to beat a horse that is dead: ‘We should reopen the economy faster in New York,’ ‘The infection rate is low; re-open faster,’ ” he ranted.

“The infection rate is low because we have done an intelligent, phased reopening. What they are advocating has been demonstrated to be wrong and to be a failure.”

You see: “Florida listened to the New York Post. Texas listened to The Wall Street Journal. Arizona listened to The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post. That was wrong” because all those states are now seeing rising coronavirus caseloads.

He did not say who California “listened to,” although it’s seeing the same problems. Presumably, he knew no one would buy the idea that the Democrats who run the Golden State would be guided by The Post.

But either way, our editorials have not been aimed at Florida or Arizona or California. They’ve been aimed at New York. And Cuomo has been too slow. Too slow to see the deaths he wrought in nursing homes because of his Health Department’s terrible order. Too slow to see that what we need to do is protect the vulnerable while not driving the entire state’s economy into the ground.

We’re fine paying the rent. We’re fine being the whipping boy for Cuomo’s passing the buck on nursing-home deaths. Because if we’re annoying him that much, it means one thing — he knows we’re right.

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