A Tale of Two Governors
Over the last two months, the media has elevated New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to superstar status for his “stellar” response to the corona-virus. Some have even suggested that he should replace Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for President this fall. Meanwhile, the media has vilified Florida Governor Ron DiSantis for his response to the corona-virus in his state. The question is why?
Let’s look at the results, New York State is the number one leader by far in Covid-19 infections, and deaths with over 23,000, while Florida has one-tenth fatalities from Covid-19, just over 2,500.
The biggest driver in New York’s number of deaths is the elderly, specifically nursing homes where over 6,000 people have died in New York. While Florida has a very low fatality rate among the elderly, even though it has the highest per capita elderly population in the country, with over 350,000 people living in care facilities.
The approach each Governor took to dealing with this virus is the reason for the different outcomes. Governor DiSantis put his main focus on protecting the most vulnerable, mainly the elderly. And to the heavy criticism from the media, he allowed beaches and other public places to remain open. He ramped up testing in elderly facilities and communities, and separated out people who tested positive for the virus thus protecting the healthy elderly population.
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo put in strict statewide lockdown measures to the praise of the media while at the same time requiring elderly care facilities to readmit patients who had tested positive which unnecessarily exposed healthy elderly people to the virus. The virus spread like wildfire through the elderly care facilities killing 2 times more people in New York nursing homes than have died in Florida from the disease total. Governor Cuomo has since rescinded his disastrous and deadly order but the damage had already been done.
The question rises, why wasn’t DiSantis treated like the superstar for his decisions, approach and success? And why wasn’t Cuomo vilified for his failures. The results, the numbers are clear. But they were treated the exact opposite. Why?
One answer is that Cuomo is a Democrat and DiSantis is a Republican, and the media will always heap praise on politicians who have a “D” next to their names, and vilify the politicians who have an “R” next to their names.
But I believe there is another reason. Governor Cuomo ran his press conferences as it has been described by many in the media as “very Presidential” which means he struck a very serious minded tone and style, and the media were immediately mesmerized by it. Meanwhile, DiSantis’ press conferences were more contentious mainly because he was fielding hostile questions from an adversarial press corps. They were very similar to President Trump’s press conferences which feel more like back alley street fights.
The media seem to care more about the style of the politician over the substance of their policies. This is why the media was so effusively obsequious toward President Obama, and rarely challenged him on any substantive matter. His style was so “Presidential” that the substance of what he said became almost irrelevant.
The results were clear, New York had the most infections and deaths, while Florida has one of the lowest per capita, yet the results did not influence the media’s treatment of the politicians. I get it. We are fighting an invisible enemy. It is extremely difficult. The information was murky. There were no clear cut solutions, especially early on.
But we need to have some objectivity here. You can’t blame Trump for the death totals on America, and praise Cuomo in spite of New York’s extremely high death totals, while ignoring the success of DiSantis. I don’t blame any politician. They all did the best they could with the information they had at the time. But the extreme politicalization of this crisis has been the most dangerous response to this crisis, and it is also dangerous to others crises we are facing today.