Andrew Cuomo to receive Emmy award for televised Covid briefings

Lauren Aratani
·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, is set to receive an Emmy award, typically given to those in the television industry, for his use of the medium when responding to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, one of the organizations that awards Emmys, said Cuomo’s award, the Founder’s award, is “in recognition of his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic and his masterful use of television to inform and calm people around the world”.

Related: US records highest number of daily coronavirus deaths since May

Prior recipients of the award include Oprah Winfrey and the former US vice-president Al Gore.

Cuomo said on Friday that the recognition is “flattering” and that “it’s flattering for the people of [New York]”. He joked that reporters at the press conference “helped hone my presentation skills and acting skills”.

In the early months of the pandemic, when New York City was the center of the global pandemic, Cuomo’s popularity skyrocketed as people from around the country tuned into his blunt-talking daily televised press briefings. His approval ratings rose to 77% – a record in his nearly 10 years as governor – and he even developed a global following, especially by comparison to the chaotic briefings given by Donald Trump.

“He represents the kind of leadership we should have in the presidency and don’t,” Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California, told the New York Times in March.

But as the pandemic went on, some of Cuomo’s fame and popularity faded. Instead, the governor started to be criticized for a directive he implemented in March that guided nursing homes – which ultimately saw more than 6,600 deaths, about a quarter of all deaths in the city – to accept patients who had or were suspected to have Covid-19.

Cuomo amended the order in May, but by that time, nursing homes admitted over 6,000 Covid-positive patients, according to the state’s health department. While reports have said that nursing home staff, not other patients, were the main cause of spread in care homes, some public health experts and nursing home executives have voiced skepticism over such research.

Then on Wednesday, the governor lashed out angrily at a press briefing when a reporter asked Cuomo about the news that New York City public schools would close after a recent surge of cases in the city.

“Let’s try not to be obnoxious and offensive in your tone,” Cuomo told the reporter. When a fellow reporter said that the question was valid, Cuomo responded: “Well, I don’t really care what you think.”

Some critics on Twitter – including some Democrats – are decrying the recognition, saying that it ignores the problems the state has experienced during the pandemic under Cuomo.

Max Berger, a Democratic consultant and organizer, on Twitter posted caustically: “This award makes sense because Cuomo isn’t actually a competent, empathetic Governor – he just plays one on TV.”