Politics

Chris Cuomo and top Andrew Cuomo aide allegedly plotted to discredit Fox News’ Janice Dean

Close allies of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including his top aide and his former CNN anchor brother, allegedly plotted to find ways to discredit Fox News meteorologist and host Janice Dean after she became one of the most vocal critics of the governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to people familiar with the matter.

Melissa DeRosa, who had served as secretary to the governor, was among the Cuomo aides who criticized Dean behind the scenes and sought to craft a public messaging strategy that would paint the Fox News personality as merely a right-wing commentator, people familiar with the effort told CNBC. It remains unclear if DeRosa or Cuomo’s team ever went ahead with initiating such a plan.

Andrew Cuomo himself was present during some of the strategy sessions during which Dean was mentioned, one of the people said. These sessions mainly focused on the governor’s response to Covid.

Chris Cuomo, who was a CNN anchor until he was fired last week, was encouraged to find information that would focus on Dean’s political leanings, according to a person familiar with the matter. It’s unclear whether Chris Cuomo ever went ahead with this, or who encouraged him to seek the information.

The people cited in this article declined to be named in order to speak freely about private conversations.

Andrew Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told CNBC that he didn’t know whether Chris Cuomo was being asked to look into Dean. He denied that the strategy sessions were focused on her. He also said the governor’s office’s response to Dean’s criticisms was handled by the press office.

“We had no ‘strategy sessions’ about Janice Dean and 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,” Azzopardi initially told CNBC on Friday in an email. Later Azzopardi clarified to CNBC in a follow up text message after publication of this story about Chris Cuomo.

“I have no knowledge of this ever happening and you must ask, why then did the Attorney General not put anything about it in her report or ask any of the relevant people about it?” he said late Friday.

In a statement to CNBC, Dean took aim again at Cuomo’s handling of nursing home patients and ripped the former governor’s allies.

“As I have said from day one, this was never about politics. 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,” Dean told CNBC on Friday [CNBC].

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: THE DAILY BEAST

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