EXCLUSIVE -- Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean has led the charge against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s growing nursing home scandal that resulted in the tragic deaths of both of her in-laws, but she might not have ever spoken up if the Democrat didn’t make a mockery of the situation during a series of interviews with his kid brother on CNN.
"The launchpad of my being vocal was seeing those two on CNN," Dean said on Tuesday during a phone interview with Fox News to discuss her new book, "Make Your Own Sunshine: Inspiring stories of people who find light in dark times."
On May 21, CNN famously allowed the governor’s yonger brother, Chris Cuomo, to put on a prop comedy show with his older sibling while ignoring the nursing home crisis. The CNN anchor pulled out a series of oversized Q-Tips, asking Gov. Cuomo if he needed the comically large cotton swabs to receive a coronavirus test in what was apparently a dig at the size of his brother’s nose.
The image of Gov. Cuomo laughing while his CNN host sibling held the giant Q-Tip has emerged as a moment that will forever tarnish CNN’s reputation as a serious news organization, but it also motivated Dean to speak out.
Her first appearance on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" to speak out against Cuomo came the day after the Q-Tip incident and she hasn’t slowed down since.
"That is truly what made my grief turn to rage and that is one of the biggest reasons that it was time for me to speak out. I was so disgusted," Dean said.
"The fact that there were body bags being piled up outside of nursing homes, the fact that we couldn’t have wakes or funerals for my family and thousands of families were dealing with this and wanted answers, and this guy has the nerve to go on his brother’s show and make jokes? That’s the reason why I did Tucker’s show the night after that."
Cuomo has since been accused of withholding data on COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes to avoid federal scrutiny and bullying political opponents, in addition to multiple sexual harassment claims.
Dean wasn’t only disgusted by the governor’s CNN appearances, though, as Cuomo became more egotistical as the pandemic continued, such as showing a poster touting his success and writing a book on COVID leadership. Chris Cuomo’s glowing portrayal of his brother helped him emerge as a hero among liberals, and he was given an Emmy award and regularly praised by the mainstream media.
"It was his arrogance, his celebration of himself and his ego that I truly believe is what brought him down," she said, as the governor faces mounting pressure to resign.
Meanwhile, CNN has implemented a rule that forbids the "Cuomo Prime Time" namesake from covering his big brother. On Monday night, Chris Cuomo told viewers that he was "aware of what's going on with my brother," noting he "obviously" cannot cover his sibling. The CNN host was roasted online for suddenly declaring he could not interview a family member.
Now that Gov. Cuomo’s growing scandals are among the most important stories in America, Dean feels CNN should sideline Chris Cuomo until he’s able to actually report the news.
"I think he should take a sabbatical. I actually think he should not be on TV right now because of that huge conflict of interest," Dean said. "Last night I couldn’t believe his [comments]… either that or they should have a bottom of the hour news report that is separate from his show that covers [Governor] Cuomo. I think everybody in journalism is cringing right now because of this. It’s journalistic malpractice."
Dean has compared Cuomo coming under fire for allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior to the federal government going after mobster Al Capone for tax evasion, but she won’t be disappointed if the sexual harassment allegations force his resignation, as opposed to his decision to force nursing homes to accept patients with coronavirus.
"The bottom line is, he needs to go," Dean said. "Whether it’s because of creepy #MeToo stuff or a huge corruption, criminal case against him with regards to, essentially, the killing of 15,000 people, the bottom line is he has to go. My hope, though, is that even though the sexual harassment stuff is disgusting and he should be punished for that, I do hope that the federal investigation, the FBI investigation, all of the investigations ongoing do the job that I have been wanting for 10 months now and that is to uncover all of the answers we’ve been asking for months now."
If the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo do force him to resign, Dean doesn’t plan to back off of the nursing home story anytime soon.
"I’m in it for the long haul. I already have plans to do a rally around the March 25 anniversary. I’m in touch with many families," Dean said. "I will continue to advocate for this story long after the cameras are not there and the press is not there. We have to put sunlight on this."
Dean, who used her social media platform for positive, uplifting messages prior to the pandemic, still hesitates sometimes when she’s about to attack the governor on Twitter but doesn’t regret her decision to pivot from inspiring tweets to calling out Cuomo’s wrongdoings once she was irked by the "cotton swab" segment and other not-so-serious CNN appearances.
"At the time, it was the only way that I could get these messages out. Social media has been very good for this cause," she said, adding that her goal is to "expose this governor and the corruption and the nursing home massacre, basically, that happened a year ago."
She hopes to eventually get back to lighter tweets, like jokes for her kids or dog videos, but it’s currently "necessary to keep the sunlight shining on the corruption" in Albany and what has happened to families over the past year.
Dean feels the liberal media long ago gave Cuomo a pass on the nursing home tragedy that it wouldn't have bestowed on a Republican.
"It would be on every newspaper, on mainstream media, on ABC and CBS, all the morning shows. I would not have to be this person," Dean said.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.