John O’Connor

The knives are out, now that former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo has resigned.

The latest stiletto in the neck comes courtesy of his replacement, Kathy Hochul. Last week, she said the Empire State had experienced nearly 12,000 more COVID-19 deaths than were officially reported under the Cuomo regime. Nursing home residents figured disproportionately among the omitted.

Even by New York standards, that’s a pretty substantial amount. For some context, 12,000 people could fill up 100 average-sized nursing homes. How do you miss a number that large? You don’t.

But truth be told, her revelation didn’t spark much outrage. Even last year, it was well known that Cuomo was playing fast and loose with COVID death totals.

Yet this hanging offense never did get him hung. Or anything close to it. What did? In two words: grabby hands.

A recent report by New York Attorney General Letitia James alleged Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women while creating a “hostile” work environment. It was the political firestorm ignited by her findings — and the realization that he was probably going to get canned anyway — that convinced a defiant Cuomo to finally step aside.

Now think about that juxtaposition for a minute.

To be clear, Cuomo is by all appearances a self-entitled creep. Many autocrats are. Moreover, there is simply no excuse for what he allegedly did to women who were unfortunate enough to get within grabbing range. Yes, he should have been fired for that, too. And, by the way, also charged with criminal behavior.

In my line of work, young journalists are told to avoid burying the lede, or in “civilian” language the lead. In other words, they should make sure the most critical information in a story appears first.

In the same vein, Cuomo should have been tossed last year for denying and/or covering up the deaths of so many nursing home residents.

That he was never held accountable for such an obvious dereliction of duty reveals something fairly damning about our current state of political affairs.

It reveals something even more disturbing about the relative value that’s placed on the people you serve.

John O’Connor is Editorial Director for McKnight’s.