Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and a top aide to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly plotted to discredit Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean after she criticized the former governor's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to multiple reports.
Melissa DeRosa, former secretary to the New York governor, trashed Dean behind the scenes in an attempt to discredit her and paint her as nothing more than a right-wing commentator, anonymous sources told CNBC. The same report had a source who said Chris Cuomo, who was fired from CNN less than a week ago, was encouraged to dig up information on Dean's political leanings.
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Chris Cuomo texted members of his brother's staff asking, “this Fox weather b****……Any help painting her as a far right crazy?” a source told the New York Post.
The CNBC report said there were strategy sessions attended by the former governor himself during which Dean was mentioned, but Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo, denied they took place.
"We had no ‘strategy sessions’ about Janice Dean," Azzopardi said in an email to the Washington Examiner. "To the extent that the press office had to respond to something she said, it was handled by the press office and did not rise to the level of something the governor would be engaged with.”
Dean emerged as a vocal critic of Andrew Cuomo over his coronavirus response and his order, which was later reversed, that forced nursing homes to accept recovering COVID-19 patients. She blamed him for the loss of both her husband's parents, saying they died from COVID-19 at different eldercare facilities in New York.
Dean said it did not surprise her that Andrew Cuomo and his team would attempt to discredit her. The elder Cuomo resigned from the governorship while facing mounting evidence of alleged sexual harassment, which he denies.
“As I have said from day one, this was never about politics," Dean told CNBC in a statement. "I watched first-hand how the governor’s office treated grieving families trying to get answers about the March 25th 2020 executive order to admit over 9,000 Covid positive patients into nursing homes. Instead of addressing our concerns or expressing their condolences, Cuomo’s spokesperson Rich Azzopardi called us a ‘death cult’ and told my sister in law to ‘get a life’ not long after both her parents died. Over the last year and a half I have seen victims of Andrew Cuomo and those demanding accountability demeaned and smeared in the press and on social media."
The Washington Examiner reached out to Chris Cuomo for comment.
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Chris Cuomo was suspended last week by CNN in light of new evidence that he used his media sources to assist in the defense of his embattled brother. CNN said Dec. 4 it had hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation. The network fired Chris Cuomo the next day, saying additional information had emerged warranting the move.
It was later revealed that he was fired after lawyer Debra Katz approached CNN with "documentary evidence" of "serious sexual misconduct" by a client. Chris Cuomo has denied the allegations of sexual misconduct.