2 April

The Cuomo Brothers Versus The President: What A Show!

by Jon Katz

As, a former journalist and media critic, I’ll bust a gut if I don’t write about the fascinating and bloodless but significant cultural television phenomenon emerging from the coronavirus tragedy.

This post is not about whether President Trump is a good President or a bad one, it’s about the way two reality shows so different from one another are both airing every day and revealing so much about our politics, culture and maybe our future.

It’s not just a question of two different press conferences, it’s really about two different ways of looking at the world.

These two regular daily television conferences about the coronavirus – one starring the President, the other Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York – could help determine who is President in the Fall, and how we as a nation respond to this staggering crisis and the next ones to come.

Part of our President’s genius is that he sees himself – once and forever – as the star of his own long-running, TV centered reality show.

The White House lawn and press room is his daily stage and this idea of being a Tweeting TV Reality Show President blew away a score of gifted competitors. They all saw the Presidency quite differently.

Trump’s vision of being President has upended conventional politics, fusing them with the lessons of mass-market television. He turned out to be the wisest of them all. And many people love him very much.

Donald Trump is the master of the genre.

If you take a couple of hours to watch the best reality TV shows from Dr. Phil to The Real World to Million Dollar Listing and the Bachelor,  even Trump’s own Apprentice, you will see his vision played out on the White House lawn or press room every day.

He’s turned the entire Washington political spectrum into actors and wannabees on his own show, the Apprentice, all over again.

Trump is always the story on his show, always on stage from his bluster to his hair to his fancy suits and ungracious responses. He can say or do whatever he wants, his outrageousness and offensiveness is the point, not a side effect.

I have no idea what he’s really like, but his TV persona is shocking and unwavering. His followers wanted a Disrupter, and that’s is what they got. He didn’t run to govern, he ran to destroy our conventional ideas about governing.

The President may or may not understand how a virus spreads, but he understands his television. He knows that on every successful reality show, arrogance, cruelty, boorishness, fighting, over-the-top polarizing, and paranoia, even bigotry as a political philosophy, are considered admirable, not offensive.

In this world, lying and exaggerating, scapegoating and bragging are not bad things, but good things.

You win by flaunting and taunting the conventions of the “elites” and the unknown.

As a former TV producer, I know good TV when I see it, and Trump is perhaps the best I have ever seen at keeping himself in front of the camera, no matter what he says or does while performing.

It is a fascinating fusion of popular culture and politics.

President Trump is a master of the form, he is the star of every room he’s ever in, and everyone must bow before him. In TV, I learned early that fiction soon becomes reality, and many people no longer care about the difference.

Suddenly a new challenge for the President, a spawn of the coronavirus hosted by a different personality, and this show is also red-hot, riveting,  watched across the nation and suddenly very influential.

It is transformative, also shaping our society and our understanding of the coronavirus, and of ourselves.

In an indirect but obvious way, it is also challenging the ethos and popularity of President Trump, and his prospects for re-election.

Without ever hardly mentioning him, this new broadcast is creating a devastating portrait of a leader struggling painfully to lead a diverse nation – half of whom he has deliberately and contemptuously alienated – at a critical time.

A lethal Pandemic isn’t really the stuff of good reality TV. It’s too heavy, too real and too frightening. So far, President Trump doesn’t seem to have found another speed.

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York seems to understand something that no other politician or political candidate up against President Trump has yet grasped. You can’t fight a Reality TV Presidency with an argument, you have to fight it with another reality show, a newer and better one.

And you have to fight it by showing a better way, not just promising it or arguing about it.

In essence, you undercut Trump by being the very opposite of him on television every single day when so many people are paying attention. You do not do this by attacking him or quarreling with him.  It’s entertainment, stupid, fighting  and offending is his specialty, it is most people’s weakness. You try to show what government, at its best, can do.

Governor Cuomo seems to have figured this out. If he’s loud you’re soft, if he is vicious,  you are gentle, if he is lying or stretching the truth, you are being painfully honest,  if he can’t really show empathy, you are empathizing all the time, even in tears at times.

Cuomo, a blood enemy of most Republican politicians,  is not your usual progressive or wooly headed prophet of the left. He is notorious as a tough, take-no-prisoners governor. He has ticked off liberals and conservatives alike.

He talks to the President most days during the crisis, he praises Trump on every single broadcast. His dedication to helping the people in his stricken city seems to have taken precedence over anything else.

Accurately or not, no one in his growing audience ever gets the impression that he is thinking of himself or his future.

Governor Cuomo speaks directly, and in a working-class, every man,  Queens accent. Trump is a ruthless billionaire, his father was a ruthless real estate developer and a cold and demanding parent.

Cuomo’s father was also a tough politician who said more than once that campaigning was poetry, governing was prose. His son was his campaign manager.

Mario Cuomo had a Teamster style of leadership and the heart of a lion. He often sounded like a Jesuit poet.

His son Andrew is showing those qualities in every press conference, and he is hitting most of them out of the park. By contrast,  Trump seems to struggle with a format constrained by gravity and science.

Suddenly, facts really matter. Facts are not his thing.

His press conferences are long, confusing and awkward.

Andrew Cuomo never takes the bait. How can you be attacked or belittled by Trump’s many supporters when you never attack or criticize their leader?  For the first time, the President seems tongue-tied. Can he win on governing? Not this time, it seems, not so far.

Cuomo has also done some fusion – politics, disaster, family, and television. Because of the virus and the havoc it’s wreaking in New York City and much of the rest of the country, he suddenly has a vast audience.

Until now, nobody could compete with President Trump when it came to television and media attention.

Cuomo is besting him, breaking through the Trump-wall. He is perhaps Trump’s worst nightmare, a potential opponent who understands government, sports, politics, and television. Someone who can take out his human side,  polish it like precious silver, and show it off.

He has been waiting for this moment all of his political life. He is telling us – showing us – how the government is supposed to work when there is this much trouble.

President Trump brags about his ratings in one breath, offers deadly statistics in the next. Cuomo is self-effacing, almost shy. He seems to bleed for every sick and dying person.

In a reality television show, producers know that the more outrageous, over-the-top, divisive, or over-the-top the message, the more people will love it and come back for more.

Reality TV is a circus, not a policy.  President Trump loves drama, he brags, lies, attacks enemies and reporters at will, he always gets the headlines; he always makes the news.

Cuomo understands that the media is just like the President – they also thrive on drama even as they bemoan it – they are not really his enemy but his very best friends. Each makes the other possible – and rich.

Cuomo also uses them in that way. But his press conferences are never an ugly slugfest. The dance is much quieter.

Cuomo’s daily press briefing about the virus, now broadcast live all over America and on several cable channels live is, in every way, the child of the Trump idea, yet at the same time the very opposite of it.

I don’t kid myself about the governor. Cuomo, like his father and his brother, is a political animal, with all of the instincts of a wolf hiding behind the garb of a noble priest.

He knows what he is doing.

Cuomo has figured out how to make Trump look bad and very different from him.

He does it by never criticizing the President directly, but undermining him constantly – all he has to do is be himself. Trump has to put on his Reality TV mask every time.

I picture Jeb Bush as pulling his hair out.

Whatever his motives and intentions – I can’t know – Cuomo is now the anti-Trump, the dream Democratic candidate.

It never pays to underestimate Donald Trump, but the smart political people are all whispering right now that Cuomo would eat Trump alive in a debate or an election. I imagine that the idea will gain some steam this Spring.

In his press conferences, Cuomo has created his own FDR-style Fireside Chat, calming a nervous and grateful country with compassion and understanding, stories from his personal life, and poetic exhortations to be calm and vigilant and patient.

I’m not sure what the message from Trump is for me, other than that he is doing a terrific job. That doesn’t make me feel better about being closeted in my house for the next few weeks.  If there is another message, I am not getting it.

Cuomo surprises me, he is out of the box: He even rounded up nearly 7,000 therapists to counsel people who are freaking out in New York.

And for free.

Cuomo, like his father,  understands from the ancient Greeks that the most beloved heroes show their vulnerability and their flaws. He is not afraid to choke up and cry.

Trump insists at every opportunity that he is the smartest person in every room, Cuomo is quick to say he knows little, he listens to the experts and deals in facts. Trump says he takes no responsibility for the way the coronavirus was handled by the federal government.

Cuomo takes full responsibility for telling people to shelter in place.

If you have to blame anyone, he says, blame me. I’m the guy at the top. His strength is contagious. So is his calm.

Rather than try to win over Trump’s devoted followers, Cuomo sidesteps their anger and sense of persecution. He is gathering his own tribe instead.  The troll army has no role to play.  Trump has no answer for that, the pundits say he watches every minute of Cuomo’s show every day and has even tried to copy his style.

My guess is that Trump will have to go after Cuomo at some point, it’s his nature.

He’ll give Cuomo a Middle School name and try to bait him into a mistake (remember Elizabeth Warren?)  That could be the political battle of the century, Godzilla versus the Tyrannosaurus.

Cuomo, a purveyor of high-quality schmaltz, is a politician known for his arrogance and ruthlessness, but this new and warmer leadership style is a huge hit, all over the country.

The governor has also broadened the cast of his show, as good reality shows do.

There is his little brother Chris, a CNN anchor, who loves to banter and defer to his big brother; there are his adult daughters, who have come to live in the Governor’s Mansion to join in the corona battle alongside their pop.

There is even a now-famous mother, Matilda, the storied Italian mom going over to Chris’s house to show him how to make her fabulous pasta sauce. Loving and praising – and protecting –  your mother on national TV is a very smart thing to do.

Almost daily, Andrew Cuomo evokes the ghost of his famous father. President Trump seems to do the same thing but in a different way.

The Cuomos won the Reality TV  Sweepstakes this week when Brother  Chris contracted the coronavirus himself and suffered greatly from, then began to heal, on national television, his “best friend” big brother calling constantly from the Governor’s Mansion in Albany to check in and make sure he’s all right.

Chris, who had a very long and rough night,  told the nation that he dreamed his powerful brother was a ballerina dancing in his dream.

The media scarfed it up.

When they do talk, which is often on their respective broadcasts, the brothers kid each other with warmth and love,  they paw sweetly at one another like two lion kittens.  Brothers for our time.

The vast TV audience looking in on this drama swooned and teared up.

Even Reality shows don’t get more real than that. I took a brief look at President Trump in his dark suit with Brother Pence glowering standing loyally at his side later in the day, he got clobbered today.

And I thought, wow, Cuomo is a master himself. This new show could beat the competition silly.

It makes for wonderful TV, the two brothers who clearly care for one another and have been bantering with each other for years. Keep it rolling, keep it going, I could hear myself shouting in the CBS control room.

There were tears all over the country when Governor Cuomo nearly broke down on the air talking about his brother’s diagnosis.

The governor said he was worried about his little brother, who he loves dearly. His best friend.

Chris in return urged the governor to be careful traveling around the state, he is too important to lose.

I’m not trying to be cynical or skeptical here, but reporters are reporters, writers are writers, artists are artists, and politicians are politicians. I see what I see.

As a former TV producer, I would have cut off an arm for content like this.

No wonder President Trump seems rattled, reading off of his prepared text in a monotone while Cuomo orates spontaneously, quoting Winston Churchill and Abraham Lincoln.

Part of Trump’s great success is that he has convinced the very people who need a leader the most that he is their salvation.

And many people now think that Governor Cuomo is their salvation. This crisis will go on for a long time, everyone involved shall be revealed.

Call your mom, Cuomo said during a press conference last week, but don’t let her in your house now, he cautioned in one press conference. Love your mother from a distance.  Stay home and cook your family a nice Sunday dinner, he suggested in another.

Cuomo projects the idea that he will do anything,  anything – even pull the right levers in government – to go to bat for his citizens, especially the embattled elderly right now.  He always talks about the little guy at the bottom of the pile and how to protect them.

We can’t let anybody die, he says, we can’t write anybody off. His eloquent plea to save every life, including the sick and the elderly, shined as one of the high points in the history of great leadership.

The wolves were already beginning to call for the blood of the vulnerable, save the economy first. Most of these people are going to die anyway.

I won’t give up on anybody, Cuomo promised and talked like he meant it.  The President said more people died from the flu than the coronavirus that day. It wasn’t true.

As an older person at risk, I might be biased, but apart from that, it was a beautiful message Cuomo gave, leadership at its very best.

There is a lot at stake in these culture wars, as the Corona Reality TV Battle suggests.

What do we want a President to be? What do we want our country to be? What do we want our government to be? We will all have some answers in a few weeks.

I think President Trump ought to be grateful that Andrew Cuomo decided not to run for President this year.

(I was once a political writer also, and I can’t help notice that in every single broadcast, Cuomo says – often repeats –  the statement that what is happening in New York City will soon be happening elsewhere, broadening his audience and giving anyone anywhere a good reason to see his broadcasts.

Just sayin’. He insists the crisis in New York is not local, but will soon be heading elsewhere. If anyone helps New York, he says, he will personally return the favor.)

This virus will re-shape our political system in one way or the other, and whatever the outcome, our popular culture may decide those important questions about our country.

But I wonder a bit when Cuomo says he isn’t interested in running. Politics is clearly in his blood. And I found out that the Democratic National Convention can nominate anyone they wish to nominate.

I really can’t tell if this is just another part of the show.

 

(Note, this is not a left-right political discussion, nor a hate or love President Trump discussion. It’s about the fascinating popular culture that America has created, and that has obsessed and shaped the politics of our country for years. I refuse to crap it up with hoary left-right propaganda. 

Here, we think for ourselves.  This blog is a search for truth, agree or disagree, but don’t bring mindless propaganda here. I won’t post it.)

650 Comments

  1. WOW! What an elequent and powerful journalistic masterpiece! My Iprofessional opinion is that your skills include, but are not limited to, ” tell-it-like-it-is”heartfelt and accurate journalism at it’s best — and I believe you are a National Treasure!!! . Although I’ am now 80 years old, my professional career included Editor at a New York/New Jersey metropolitan area book publisher; an Editor. Interviewer and writer for a cultural-arts magazine in Miami-Dade County Florida, and the Senior Editor and-Author of technical documents at an M&O Contractor for the U.S.Military located in the Bahamas and Palm Beach, Florida. Currently (and for the past 21 yeas) i live in North Central Texas and am a great-grandmother and a proud Texas Democrat! However, I was born in New Jersey and lived in a small, 4-family building located on a 1-block-long mountain road, overlooking the town below, the Hudson River, midtown Manhattan and the Empire State Building.

      1. Oh seeet Jesus…a beautiful man? Good grief he has gutted this state, alienated anybody north of NYC, turned criminals into poor souls and was the main reason we are eyeball deep in this epicenter shit show

    1. John, this is some of the finest obsevational writing I have ever had the pleasure to read. In one blog article you have answered so many questions for me, thank YOU! Go John go!! You absolutely ROCK!!

    2. Go back to writing books about your dogs and your depression. You are thing that’s called ” the wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

  2. I was a tadpole swimming in the sea
    Then I was a frog as green as I could be.
    Then I was a monkey swinging in the trees
    Now I am a Professor with a PHD. Don’t no nutten.

    1. I was completely engaged in your tell it like it is observations, otherwise honest perspective of the reality game! Thank you for offering your vision and understanding of our current situation as we all struggle to find leaders who have our best interests in mind! I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts!

  3. I am writing from distant South Africa (where we are right now seeing the difference between leadership and showmanship on stark display) to tell you that this is one if the most enjoyable and instructive articles I have read in a while. For a country so beset by our own problems, we spend an inordinate time following events in the US. It is much as if watching a reality TV show. Your article practically comes across as a TV review. I am looking forward to more.

    1. Agree with you too, we’re so lucky to have President Ramaphosa and New York is very fortunate to have Governor Cuomo leading them through such a life threatening crisis, I even take heart from his daily briefings from our far flung country!

  4. It’s amazing how Cuomo has the rest of the nation fooled. With any research you would find that he is a governor for New York City, he is roundly hated in the rest of the state and his response to the virus is not helping his popularity upstate.

    1. I disagree. I live in the Adirondack Mountains. There are many people who have lived here for generations and many hate politicians for no good reason. They talk a lot about how their tax dollars are spent when many earn so little that they pay small amounts in taxes. Many think guns and gun rights define freedom and many most are suspicious of college educated people. Also many have never been to New York City. Many Adirondack natives carry a “ little people” identity and a big small minded chip on their shoulder.

      1. Yes, Judy. Have to agree with you. I live in the largest rural township of Saratoga County. The small-town, hate everything to do with NYC, mentality and bias is a powerful phenomenon. An extremely ignorant, IMHO. Whether you agree with Andrew Cuomo, or not, I have come to believe he is a principled man doing his level best for those he governs. I haven’t always agreed with him, but have respected him for obviously taking his job and responsibility very seriously. In contrast to Trump, who seems mostly focused on enriching himself and his cohorts.

    2. Frank, you are in a small and shrinking minority. All Upstaters that I know admire the hell out of Andrew Cuomo as a leader. Disagreeing with certain policies is one matter; I have my own differences with Cuomo. But for leadership, he is the ONE!

      1. Love this observation from the article. “There is even a now-famous mother, Matilda, the storied Italian mom going over to Chris’s house to show him how to make her fabulous pasta sauce. Loving and praising – and protecting – your mother on national TV is a very smart thing to do.” Just one of many excellent observations.

      2. Amen!
        Cuomo has shown amazing strength and leadership during this crisis. I am an upstater…and he would get my vote for another 4 yrs of Gov, or President!

      3. Yes, Cuomo is the ONE. He entered the stage to talk to America on how we were fighting the coronavirus or COVID19. His calmness and grasp of the science and facts make him believable. Cuomo is helping America save more lives by showcasing New York to the world. Cuomo knows he is standing in the Light. His coronavirus news briefings are well organized with content and sharp visuals.

    3. That’s ok, brother. Please stay safe during through this tribulation. Sincerely, a friend from Canada.

    4. Nope. I live in WA and I watch my Governor and Cuomo For most of my info. They are doing a fine job with out many resources. I was never more proud as when Pence said we were doing a good job and the President called our Governor is a “snake.” Why to Inslee!

      1. You are so fortunate to have Jay Inslee as Governor in WA. I know many Washington folks have issues with Inslee but he is such a doer.He solves problems with solutions that are followed by actions. He is an inspiration!

    5. You can’t fool anyone with your beautifully composed words….. you despise Trump. Sorry, Cuomo along with past Democrats, namely Obama & Clinton are to be shamed for their poor leadership. God bless America, Trump has my vote in November, he’s the one who will restore our great nation.

      1. Yes… Obama who saved the nation from the banking melt-down. Saved GM and Chrysler. And Bill Clinton who left office with a budget surplus. Terrible things they did as far as leadership goes. Unfortunately, Birdie, history will show Trump was more like Jim Jones in Guyana handing-out cups of poisoned Kool Aid, than any sort of leader. Just ask George Will and consider what John McCain said before he passed, and many other real Republicans who have come to denounce Trump.

        1. Obama saved the Nation – the leader of Socialism – you need a lesson in History and Economics. Meanwhile exactly who apologized to the whole World and set up China to eat our lunch. Incredible stupidity.

      2. May you go out with all your friends in large groups, as your President has encouraged! Less
        Republican voters in November- and May your ignorant tribe continue their behaviors

      3. I hope you are alive to vote. Thanks to dTrump, your wonderful leader, he will have tens of thousands of deaths on his bloody hands.

      4. Birdie is like many Americans – unable to see or hear clearly. Lemmings follow mindlessly. You still listen to a man who called the entry of covid-19 into the USA a hoax? Gullible!

      5. Birdie.

        CLEARLY Some people can not discern a fact from getting hit in the head with a baseball bat, There is a reason that President Trump looks inept and that is because he can’t get out of his own way.. PresidentTrump is not restoring the nation, he has not made it great he has IMPAIRED its core abilities to FUNCTION. Governor Cuomo makes him look supremely inept by comparison because he relies on facts, science, is a steady vote of reason, empathy and calm. Its not that Cuomo is that good – and he is that good but that President Trump is WAY out of his league and this example is showing that GOVERNMENT is the ANSWER for things the private sector cannot do. Go ahead and vote for President Trump – you will be LONLY when few others join you in this undertaking.. Joe Biden is going to be OUR president, Trump will lose, he should lose and then the country can start to rebuild the DAMAGE he has rendered to it.. Andrew Cuomo will be President in 2024 and continue the good work.

    6. That is absolutely not true. While he has his critics all over the state, he is widely respected, and now more than ever. In such a troubled time, even his critics admire and appreciate his leadership. Not sure what your divisive agenda is here, but I don’t know one single person in and around Syracuse, NY who isn’t damned glad he’s our guy. Pull yourself together there, Frank, because it’s Andrew Cuomo who’s most likely to save your …….

    7. Thank you Frank. You hit the nail on the head. Have they witnessed the behavior in front of the camera with the journalist brother also when he threw a temper tantrum? Cuomo is NYS’s worst nightmare I pray he won’t become the USA’s worst nightmare

    8. Frank…if anyone really paid attention, they would know you are correct. Gov Cuomo has always been known as the New York CITY governor. I live in upstate NY and we are barely considered when the governor decides to do something BUT when he needs something (ventilators, medical help, etc.), THEN he consideres upstate.

    9. Speaking as a former upstate resident I can say that all my upstate friends are raving about Cuomo’s leadership. And shaking their heads at Trump’s answers to questions. Just saying.

    10. I agree with you Frank. Everyone needs to do their own research on Andrew and his father. You will be amazed ar what you discover.

    11. It s media that has the nation fooled with cuomos and trump just like they did with nixon kennedys etc ad nauseum. It s all just a big freak show. Gaslight ala Hitchcock

    12. Cuomo has no one fooled, he is who he is. He is governor of NY State, and I, a resident of Upstate NY, am very glad to have him as my governor.

    13. I am one of many who have always respected and are ecstatic for him to show the nation what a true leader should act!
      #GovernorCuomoforPresident

    14. Yes, we in upstate NY have a LOT of issues with our governor. We did not vote for him. But in the time of a pandemic that is killing thousands, he is the source of leadership, facts, and truth. He has plans and programs and actually reports facts about their implementation..

    15. Ummm. Do you mean to say that the MAYOR of New York City is “roundly hated” ? That would be Mr. De Blasio and I have heard that as well. GOVERNOR Cuomo is the subject of this piece and I rather doubt that the millions of people being helped right now in this terrible time in the Sate of New York would agree with you. Wait til it hits your neighborhood and then comment.

    16. I’m from Syracuse NY and Frank is wrong about upstate NY. While upstate does tend to be conservative, most of us don’t hate Cuomo, and we do appreciate his daily briefings.

    17. Agree. This article is so full of “sweet” and very bias information …. my hat is off to you for so gently making a huge wave of your opinion for your clearly named party… it didn’t fool us!!! It actually brought to light how far the demos will go… trying to camouflage it with such Gracious flow… as for the governor of NY, he is so deep in Soros pockets, it wouldn’t surprise me that you too are being paid for this article by him….

      1. Soros is hiding in my barn, Hilary Clinton is living in the woodshed, and there are Democrats everywhere, spreading lies and undoing the good and heroic work of our leader. I am sorry for my blindness and conniving grasping ways. you are just too smart for me, T..I’m swimming in the Gracious Flow (Soros’s check hasn’t come yet..)

  5. This is a beautifully written article (which unfortunately could use a better proofreader). The author could have learned much by interviewing a few upstate New York residents about Mr. Cuomo’s style of governance. He would have learned much about how they feel about the Governor’s “prose.” Never has New York State had a Governor who has abandoned the interests and needs of his constituents outside NewYork City so much as Mr. Cuomo. He seems to have forgotten
    that the largest industry in New York State is agriculture. Except for campaign time, he seldom sees the rolling farmland of the state, the beautiful cornfields, the productive dairy farms, the neatly tended vineyards. For him New York City is New York State. The most recent example of this is his order to the National Guard troops to seize ventilators and other medical supplies from upstate hospitals for use in New York City. He has, however, generously offered to reimburse them for the cost, knowing full well that they cannot be replaced because of the shortage. This may be the last straw for upstaters. He has now shown his ruthless contempt for all those outside “the City.” The question, then, is how would he govern the country as President? He’s just a better actor than Trump.

    1. Wow…if you can not see WHY your Governor is asking for ventilators,then your opinion means little. It shows me you are selfish and selfserving. Mr. Cuomo did ask for them to save lives NOW,while waiting gor more. Are you so selfish, you can not see that? BTW,he NEVER said to NOT leave upstate hospitals with none for their own use. It was clear he was speaking to what ever could be spared to help where the need is now .Think of how fire depts work in rurals or on big fires. They use each others equipment, ,help,et al, however never leaving a station without a plan or their most useful resources. Or for even smaller analogies,like borrowing a stick of butter,toll you get to the store. You have 4 sticks, so if you give one to your neighbor you wont miss it,or else you would tell your neighbor no. If you say yes,not only is it the right thing to do you might get back your stick &a plate of cookies. THAT is what your Governor is doing.

      1. Yes, Joseph, can you not see the efficacy of using something akin to a rapid reaction force to attack hot spots with all available resources, and then redirect them when necessary to other locations as the pandemic spreads.

    2. I’m from Syracuse, the center of the state and I’m really tired of hearing that old upstate/downstate chestnut again. I’m not a fan of Cuomo, but he has been doing a terrific job keeping us informed, and acting in our best interests.

  6. As a former hollywierd writer, i ‘vecalso credited reality tv not only with the pandering to our lowest instincts, but also bringing a whole new generation of voters whose first and possibly only experience of voting was American Idol. All blind emotional attachment. Then one of their stars – a man who had been in their living rooms once a week for seven years – decided to run…..

  7. I devoured your post. While very much opposed to Trump, I admire his gutty, street brawler attitude and his ability to dismember his opponents. The Cuomo boys are like Kryptonite to him though. They are a WWE tag team, Chris jabbing and poking, while Andrew smoozes and cajoles the president to get what he needs without poking the bear. I am captivated by his daily briefings, how he blends facts, science, and adds a dose of good-old fireside chat into each episode. As we enter week four of our cloister, those broadcasts keep me going. It’s almost nine, time to go!

    1. Isolation allows time for education. Education embraces culture. “I, Claudius” is entertainingly full of both. What
      a reality show/ historical dressup/blood and gore comedy! Revive it at once, and cast Rodney Dangerfield as
      Caligula – and hope against experience that the base will get the point.

    2. I just have one question for you. Are you really ok with the President continuing his “gutty, street brawler attitude and his ability to dismember his opponents” during this time? Or should he be a little more compassionate? Have a great day and please don’t read anymore into this than what the question asks. Thank you.

      1. As a New Yorker living out of state and feeling like listening to Cuomo is the only way to keep up with the Virus, I am impressed. When our president feels obligated to refute the medical experts, publicly and without shame, it gets harder and harder to even listen.
        Cuomo, politician or not, upstater or not, is informed and forward looking.

  8. Apparently, when you plan in writing your negative OPINIONS about Trump, you begin your article with a lie. You say it’s not a political article then, continue on to bash Trump.
    This is very similar another article you wrote about Trump… If your were honest you’d investige other factors regarding the Coronavirus press conferences. How did get here with China and WHO? Bill Clinton. Why are our medical supplies depleted. Obama used them in his 8 year term and decided to pass on Dr Fauci’s advice to replenish them. Dr Fauci should’ve raised the red flag back the to Congress/Senate and the media. Where was Congress and the intelligence agencies during this crisis? Tied up attempting an illegal political coup.
    Cuomo, same thing. Was advised 5 years ago to spend 560 million on medical supplies. He declined. He spent 670 million on a failed solar project. He told NYC to keep going about their normal routine. He told people to go to the China Town parade. He closed 20-40 NYC hospitals to save money for his sanctuary programs. Illegal aliens, refugees, DACA, dreamers, anchor babies, released criminals, bail REFORM? HE BANKRUPT THE HIGHEST TAXED STATE IN THE UNION. What ensued? His total incompetence was rewarded by a $350 billion dollar stimulus bailout from Trump.

        1. Donald Trump is an obnoxious, rude, narcissist who has done more for this country in 3-1/2years than has been done For past 25 years. I see beneath his pompous mask a patriot who truly loves America.

        2. Carroll,

          As a “Never Trumper,” myself, I will never cease to be amazed at the ability of the Trump “base” to ignore, or even attempt to explain away, his statements and conduct, no matter how dishonest, disrespectful and hurtful they may be. “Never Trumpers” like me have generally been Republicans for many years, espousing the traditional Republican values of fiscal conservatism, state’s rights and limited government, but we recognize that our President, who is anything but a traditional Republican, has hijacked the Republican party for his own personal benefits and whose personal foibles are an embarrassment to traditional Republicans.

          I do agree with your second comment, that “Donald Trump is an obnoxious, rude, narcissist,” and I might also add “liar, womanizer and insulter,” among other pejoratives that quickly come to mind. I would even agree that he has done some good things for this country (while trying to do good things for himself), but I am embarrassed to think that this egomaniac Reality Show host is the “face” of my country to the rest of he world.

          I would like to make an appeal to those Democrats who do not wish to have Trump as the “leader” of this great country for four more years, a goal shared by “Never Trumpers.” To accomplish this, you will likely need both a large turnout from Democratic voters in November and also the votes of the “Never Trumpers.” This will require nominating a candidate who is at least acceptable to moderate Republican “Never Trumpers,” It sounds like Joe Biden might be able to accomplish both (but that Andrew Cuomo is likely the best bet to accomplish this). Bernie Sanders, who would bring out very few votes from “Never Trumpers,” cannot possibly defeat Trump. A word to the wise . . .

        3. Oh really? Like all his predictions leading up to this? Donald Trump is in a panic, knows his base has eroded and independents are laughing at him. I don’t like Cuomo that much either but he is easily showing the world how to do this, while trump is worried about his ratings and his spray tan.

      1. I’m an outsider . I live north of your border in the city/town of Coquitlam British Columbia.. That said,I have many many contacts in my native Scotland and far beyond and none…none ! can quite understand the how and the why of supporting Donald Trump. The author of this article does a marvellous job but I’m still left with the “why ?”. After all while Trump may be entertaining he is obviously incapable of actually running the country. He encourages division . He is obviously not interested in anyone beyond himself . There is surely good reason to believe that a re-election of him would be to the dis-advantage of everyone including himself. The old saying “Biting your nose off to spite your face “ fits. There is of course a reason why I and most “outsiders “ fear the continuation of Trump as president. Madness can be contagious.

    1. Seen FOX News lately, Chuck? It’s clear that propaganda is the ONLY thing you listen to. Have a nice day.

  9. Excellent observations and excellent writing.
    I enjoyed the way you write the truth . I have posted and it has been reposted over and over Thank you !
    Keep ‘em coming !!

  10. I ran across this blog piece in the News section on my iPad; you hit every nail on the head! You wrote respectfully about the differences between these two men. Neither is perfect but one lives in the reality of the current situation while the other lives in his reality; which is his campaign.

    The real facts of this pandemic are extremely important as I am just starting cancer treatment and need to be extremely cautious, as does everyone else!

    Thank you for the enlightening blog. I am definitely a new follower.

    1. Deb, I was just informed I’m cancer free after 3 years of battling stage IV gastric cancer. 3,000 hours of chemo and radiation, 100 mile trips to receive treatments and uncounted sleepless nights from massive steroid infusion.
      Stay positive.
      Our minds are as effective at beating this disease as the treatments.
      Best to you…from a survivor.

  11. I’m from Canada. I don’t watch our own cable news network to learn about what’s happening daily with the corona virus. I watch CNN specifically to catch the Cuomo brothers and the Trump briefings. I have never seen anything so fascinating in my life. I am in love with Governor Cuomo and how he’s handling himself. The contrast between Trump and Cuomo is stark and startling and as a Canadian, who knows how intertwined and interdependent our countries are upon one another, I’ve felt more comforted and secure listening to Governor Cuomo each day than I have in the past 3 1/2 years. He’s not just speaking to New Yorkers and the rest of America whenever he opens his mouth, he’s speaking to us too. Can’t wait to see where this all goes.

  12. Well written Jon Katz. Shared to my Facebook page. Mirrored my thoughts exactly but much more eloquently. We are living in very interesting times.

  13. who was it that said “The definition of madness is doing the same thing over again and again and expecting a different outcome”. The other old saw that springs to mind is ” fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me “. For your own sake, WAKE UP AMERICA.

  14. Reality TV, I agree BUT Governor Coumo is not what I want in a president. Bail Reform is bad, taking ventilators from upstate hospitals who are already stretched thin with money, staffing, etc is also a bad idea and let’s not forget shipping COVID-19 patients upstate…..yes he’s trying to do right by his NYC constituents but at what cost? He’s driving thousands of upstate people out of the state because we can’t afford him and his taxes and bad decisions that usually help out down state(below Westchester county) and he forgets above Albany county where we have a more sizable population of low to middle income and elderly on fixed incomes. Soooo while it’s nice he’s reminding us to call mom or dad, stay home, etc REMEMBER all the others issues we have with him! A pay raise to make him the highest paid governor in the country in a state that’s going broke! Renaming a bridge in the middle of the night for his dad—WHY?, Passing bail reform for non violent criminals that actually includes violent offenders—WHY? Releasing prisoners, some of them with multiple offenses because of the virus—WHY?
    Yes he’s more eloquent than Trump but his decision process leaves a lot to be desired! Government has needed a shakeup for a long time, Americans can’t afford status quotas anymore. Career politicians who get millions of dollars every year, paid health insurance for life while I and many others have to fight for it!

  15. Thank you for your timely comments. I am one of the quarantined, retired, aging, on social security individuals that is being asked to sacrifice my life (75 yrs old) so that Trump’s economy and reelection campaign can soar again. One small observation so far. President Trumps daily rambling show is a campaign rally filled with stuff and a few Trump facts and “wish upon a star” hopes. Governor Cuomo, on the other hand, actually holds a daily information briefing that stems from scientific facts and probabilities. I will continue to listen to both Trump’s, unorganized, rambling show and governor Cuomo’s, informative, presentations to make my daily comparisons. Myron Staszkow, Avon Lake OH.

  16. Great article, thank you.

    You brought me back to my senior year in high school Poly Sci course where we read The Selling of the President (an interesting twist is without being able to get my haircut, I will soon resemble my yearbook picture). Forty four years later, I don’t remember any specifics of the book. But forty four years later I do remember coming away with an important lesson about politics. Politics is like selling laundry detergent or a bar of soap – the top selling one isn’t necessarily the best, it’s the one most people think is the best. Love or hate Trump, he convinced enough voters that he is the best (we’ll leave the electoral college debate for another day).

  17. Brilliant analysis–you spelled out the reasons behind the difference in comfort provided by the two briefings.

  18. IF Trump is a “war president” he once again failed in his duties by not preparing the country for this war. I feel he is not a president for the country as a whole, but a president only for a few. It is sad he cannot be trusted.

    1. Our medical supplies are depleted because trump sent over 17 tons of them to his dictator friend in China (who he admires so much) in February, when he knew that the virus was in the US. And, where does Bill Clinton fit into this?

    2. Many voted for him because he was a businessman. He continues to be just that. No concern for the American people, working diligently and unabashedly for big business.

  19. Is what Trump is doing planned or is he just not self-aware? I think Trump needs to join toastmasters and get a hair makeover. Please read between the lines Cuomo is running for president even though he says he isn’t.

  20. Bravo,Mr Katz.I owned a toy store in Montclair a “few”years ago.I remember you coming into the store and buying your daughter a kindergarten graduation gift.You came back several times until your daughter said she was too old for toys.🤣I have followed your career from that time,enjoying your novels and comments in the newspaper.This blog is the best! Thank you

  21. Spot on with this…….never have I seen it explained so well…..I was seriously thinking he should run for president…….sure hope he changes his mind before election day!!!!!!

  22. Awesome article. Great insight to the whole mess. I watch no “reality tv” programs, except the one playing constantly from the white house. I watch the White House briefings everyday, to keep informed of important updates. Lately the updates have been, pat the pres on the back…let me prescribe medications for your fight with the Chinese Flu even though none of my doctors will publicly endorse them…I’m just telling you that if you go on a respirator it’s the end, so don’t get upset when we run out you’re gonna die soon with or without!!!! The man needs to be stopped. Vote in November…this country needs a rest for all the lies and half truths.

    1. Yes!Trump gets all that and more. He is a dishonest creep. At least listening to Cumo is bearable.

  23. Thank you for this, it was very insightful. I do want to say however that I believe there is no difference between the TV Trump and the real Trump, and that is what is so dangerous. He knows no other way of being and that vindictiveness and lack of empathy is not just for the cameras, it is how he lives and breathes. It is all he knows. There is much evidence in how he has lived his life before he ever became a reality show star, or POTUS. His ego is boundless, and bottomless.

  24. Your article was enjoyable and hopeful to read . Andrew Cuomo for president if he takes care of the upstate New Yorkers with their agriculture issues…

    The DNC must take a reality at who they are supporting at the convention… JB won’t win the election but the Governor of New York can !!! let’s do the right thing for the nation and bring the leadership around the table and take a hard look .. do we want a candidate who is so dated with his own record and clearly only able to do one term in office. Let’s stop asking for money from us for JB no matter who he wants as a VP… time to really change for the better. Several people I know have already said Cuomo would be their write in candidate in the election ..

  25. A very clear and thoughtful evaluation of the state of the political union as it stands today. One is making incredibly bad decisions (or none at all) and the other is making very hard decisions. While the upstaters whine, the governor is doing the best for the country. He is displaying what can be done with a real leader, even with his flaws. Could it be that he would be the emergency standing should Biden suffer an illness or other debilitating incident? Cuomo would only need to choose the right VP, such as Waters, to use his beating skills to swamp Trump. Just a thought.

  26. Interesting op ed piece. It brought to mind how someone once summed up the concept nicely: When they go low, we go high.

    In times of crisis, a nation requires a leader who inspires confidence; who, well, leads. To date, we’ve gotten dithering, denial, and magical thinking, when what we needed was a strong, coherent message. In the absence of such, I’ve felt for some time that Cuomo has been stepping into that role. Your comparison of the two is apt. But we have to remember not to get seduced by the cosmetics. Cuomo is a natural in front of the camera, and he is projecting exactly the image we should have been getting from a president. Trump is a showman, first, last and always. He does not seem to have the skills to act in a presidential manner, at least he has not shown any to date, and unfortunately, this has resulted in a fragmented response to Covid-19 across the nation, with some governors enacting containment measures early and often in their states, and others laughing it off.

    But we have to be careful not to choose a potential future president based on a single instance of potentially presidential behavior. I note that many responding to this article are New York State residents living outside of New York City, and none of them seem to think Cuomo is doing anything for the state as a whole. I’m not from New York, and I know nothing of the state’s political situation, but this rings a few alarm bells with me as far as considering him as a candidate for the presidency. It smacks of the very thing that lost the democrats the presidency in the last election – the failure to recognize or acknowledge large swaths of our population who felt overlooked and passed by as our nation moved toward a global economy without thought to those left behind.

    Trump found his overwhelming support in that demographic – small towns and rural areas across the country where either international corporate farming had rendered small farms insolvent, or single-industry towns and cities whose industry had moved overseas left residents with no jobs or hope to offer to their children. The democrats, instead of recognizing this obvious revelation early in Trump’s campaign, chose to continue with their globalist focus, and not surprisingly at all, the candidate who acknowledged these voters now sits in the White House.

    You’ve nailed the stark contrast between the public faces of these two leaders. But let’s get all the data before we jump too quickly on a presidential bandwagon. Remember – Rudy Giuliani was overwhelmingly the nation’s darling during and after his response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City.

    1. I like your thinking. I am a Democrat and really find Trump disturbing at almost every level, but, like you I desire a candidate, not so much a Democrat, but a thinking, caring, tough, kind, responsible, informed, rational and diplomatic LEADER. Trump does not possess enough of those things, and before ANYONE gets my vote, they need to present their ability to be most of those. Thank you for urging a non reality TV approach to choosing a leader!

  27. Bravo. I don’t feel any better about our federal government, but I do feel less mystified. Thank you.

  28. Yes, Cuomo is making a monkey out of D.T. But the saddest outcome of this popularity contest would be yet another northeast liberal running for the Democrats. No northeast liberal can win the White House, regardless of the candidate’s merits and the media’s collective wish that it could be so. Media perceptions, as we learned in 2016, have not been relevant in national elections for quite some time. Drafting Cuomo to run would hand the election to Trump.

  29. Linda Schlichting I loved this article! I usually get upset when people refer to politics as a game. To me, this is serious business. After all, the future of the Country depnds on it. However, this article helps me appeciate the “game”, while holding on to the seriousness of it all. Thanks for sharing.

  30. This is by far the best piece of journalism I have come across in a long time. You captured the mood, the essence, the “soul” of this battle between the real and the phony. Alas, our nation has fallen victim to the virus because of the latter, and we can only hope to learn from it. Let’s draft Cuomo for Candidate of the Democrats so that we need not endure another four years or more (if Hungary is any guidance about how power can be usurped by one man even in this day and age) of this political monstrosity in the White House.

  31. I took a course in the 70s in media and culture devoted to Marshall McLuhan who coined the expression “the medium is the message” and the term global village, and predicted the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. He and my professor waxed poetic about the wonders and democratization that medium would bring. Well yes but more often, no. We are what we are now and I think this article nails it most especially, “This virus will re-shape our political system in one way or the other, and whatever the outcome, our popular culture may decide those important questions about our country.” I can only hope it will reshape it for the better.

    1. A thoughtful message, Eva, thanks. We can see from the hateful and angry messages that pour in how sick the Internet has made some people. I wrote for Wired and Rolling Stone when the Internet first cranked up and as you say we thought this would really make information free. But to a large and troubling degree, it has just made people angry and unthinking. Maybe things can get better, hope helps I think.

  32. I too am amazed by the contrast in the daily briefings.
    The love of the Cuomo brothers for each other is palpable, making politics personal.

  33. For a textbook example of great leadership, you can’t go past the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinta Ardern, who has steered her country through a major earthquake, a major massacre of innocents, and now a global pandemic, while giving birth to and raising a baby. Her daily chats with the nation are exemplars of direction giving, meaning making, and empathy.

  34. Whatever his political ambitions are, the Governor has provided a vivid and detailed model that differentiates leadership from grandstanding. This in itself is a valuable contribution to the current public discourse.

  35. I thought that I was the only one who felt like I am living in a different world than what I grew up in. I’m 70 years old and feel bad what people believe they want for a leader of the free world. I’m embarrassed that I live under this government and how they treat and talk to people. I have grand daughters who think he is rude, crude and question his ability every time he opens his mouth. People of my country, please aim higher when November comes to vote. Our fore fathers did not intend our country to be ruled this way. Thank you for a well stated article, it really restores my faith. Keep them coming please.

  36. Yup, I and many other Americans have all been thinking the same thing. All these calm, level headed, thoughtful and raw truth briefings by Cuomo seem to be opening a door for him come July or August when this is hopefully all under control. Along with Trump digging his own hole as the number of deaths increase. It will be interesting to see what happens down the road.

  37. Bravo ~Well stated. Clearthoughtful & comprehensive.
    May the beat go on ~^~
    Mario Ris, Man.,NY

  38. Seen Fox? that is propaganda. Cuomo having political dreams/aspirations? why not? That nobody care/likes him outside of NY…sorry, not true. The entire nation and world hunger for his updates. His interaction with brother a bit staged? Well, have you seen anything coming out of the WH lately??? Look, what matters is does this person actually CARE and does something for his constituents? the fact is that New Yorkers believe in him, like him and feel supported by him, Does the rest of tha Nation feel that way about our reps?

  39. Trump is not merely a failing leader in this moment of crisis; he is the most contemptible embodiment of a human being I have ever witnessed in the course of my 80 years of life. His every word, every single gesture, every single deed, is poisonous—mean, nasty, vicious, ruthless, cold-blooded. He cares about nothing but himself in a narcissism that is pathological in the extreme. For all his faults and some policies I disagree with, Andrew Cuomo is a man for this time. If the Democrats do not want to be suicidal, they should scuttle their best-laid plans and choose Cuomo, a real fighter, to defeat Donal Trump and shoo him out of the White House!

  40. What I need explained to me is why the President daily extols the virtues of hydrooxychloroquine. This medication is a necessary drug for people with lupus, malaria and severe arthritis but it can have serious side effects if not used properly including dizziness, hair loss, blindness and even death if not taken properly. (check on Wikipedia) So to say “What have you got to loose taking the drug”, while ones life for one. The President has gone so far as to not allow the expert, Dr, Fausci, to reply to reporters questions about the possible benefits of hydrooxychloroquine. Or is it just that the holder of the patent for the drug is a major contributor to the Re-elect the President campaign? Any ideas? Signed A Concerned Canadian.

  41. Bravo, Mr. Katz. I am a teacher in China and have been in China during this entire ordeal. We have been through a 14 day quarantine in February after my husband tried to fly out of Shanghai to go home to take care of a close friend. We have watched and read and posted and lamented all the way to Week 10 of on-line teaching and learning. Next week teachers head back to school, with a staggered start for the rest of us. I’ve named these past few weeks “a slow roll to normal” and have watched the dichotomy of two leaders play out on our tv and laptops. Thanks for putting words to this. I’ll be following.

  42. Articulate and skilled writing.
    I’m a NYer and Cuomos’s Mgmt sincere, caring and tough and as a NYer couldn’t be more impressed
    Geriello

  43. What a great perspective – and very well written. I’ve never considered reality TV through the objective lens of a producer before and found it fascinating (albeit somewhat disturbing!). I was particularly struck by the insight that (paraphrased) “You don’t beat a reality TV star by attacking him or quarreling with him.” Wasn’t there a Star Trek episode about an enemy that was fueled by negative emotions?

  44. Jon, I remember you from the Friends meeting of Montclair, NJ. What a brilliant, insightful, witty analysis. I recall a French saying, which translates roughly to: “there is always someone more clever than yourself”. Perhaps Pres. Trump has met it. There is something karmic moving thru this…

    1. Thanks you Nancy, such a kind and lovely message, I have the best memories of the Friends Meeting..

  45. Excellent piece; right on the mark. I met and did some political work together in the 80s I worked in Mario’s administration for five years. You have captured them both well. Trump too.

  46. I am so grateful to the friend who sent me a link to this article and discussion. My family left upstate NY when I was 16 for another state whose present Governor I also admire (and who did aspire to the presidency) – Jay Inslee. Sorry to say to all those whose comments I have been reading, I don’t think drafting Cuomo would be a good idea, though I am a major fan of how he has been handling the coronavirus situation. I believe him when he says he does not want to be President. Like several others who responded to the article, I am 80 years young, and still remember a time when compromise was not regarded as cowardice and people from both parties were able to come to agreement because they believed it was their obligation to consider what was needed for the greater good of the country and its people. There were even times when I voted for someone from another party because I felt that he (in those days it was almost always a he) was the better candidate and would take my opinions into consideration.

  47. Excellent write-up on a sad situation. One person who will do anything or say anything to remain in power and one who is focused on the people he represents and how to save them.
    A sad commentary on the political system which, as you have said, has become a reality TV show and not a way for the elected to actually represent the people.

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