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CNN is being criticized for its wall-to-wall coverage of President Trump's mask-wearing, or lack thereof, while continuing to give short shrift to the New York nursing home coronavirus crisis presided over by one of its own anchors' brother.
President Trump refused to wear a mask during the public portion of his visit to the Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Thursday, despite the plant's strict policy on wearing masks and an open letter from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel stating it was his "legal responsibility” to wear one.
A CNN insider told Fox News that while Trump should have worn the mask, the network is putting an undue emphasis on "what's not important."
"I don't know why they focus on things like this when there are certainly more important things to focus on," the network source said.
The insider knocked CNN, suggesting that if Trump found the cure for the coronavirus without wearing a mask, him not wearing the mask would become "the story" on the network.
Trump had brought a mask to the Ford plant, which he wore during a private meeting with company executives, but not during the tour of the factory. “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it,” Trump told reporters. “In the back area I did have a mask on. I had goggles and a mask right back there.”
This story dominated CNN's coverage for the rest of the day and evening.
"The Situation Room" anchor Wolf Blitzer, who presented the mask dustup as "breaking news," dedicated roughly five separate segments during his two hours of airtime on Trump's mask, or lack thereof, including his interview with Michigan Attorney General Nessel, who offered a blistering response to the president.
His colleague Anderson Cooper, who earlier this week shamed Trump for not committing to wearing a mask at the Ford plant, dedicated much of his coronavirus town hall on Thursday night to the importance of wearing a mask.
Primetime hosts Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon also condemned the president's inaction.
"This isn't about the press, this is about you. It's about the country," Cuomo told Trump. "Great example of the president stepping on his own good headline. This was supposed to be about Ford and making ventilators and showing America how far we've come in that regard and how fast. Instead, he got caught up with the mask stuff and some other side issues."
"Nothing but excuses," Lemon complained. "Some in this administration have forgotten that they work for the American people. This president certainly has forgotten. Nah — maybe he's never thought that he works for the American people."
The network's chief political anchor Jake Tapper also reacted. "It seems like an odd thing to worry about given the fact that reporters have been relaying that health officials think it would be a great idea of all leaders across the country to wear them in public," he said. "I don't know why he would not want that image out there."
CNN spent nearly 102 minutes on this issue on Thursday alone, dwarfing the roughly 15 minutes the network dedicated the entire week to a nursing home controversy surrounding Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a case that has at least one state lawmaker calling for a federal probe.
"It sounds harsh, but CNN has shown that they care more about obsessing over the president not wearing a mask than getting answers for the families of deceased New York nursing home residents," NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck told Fox News. "If CNN were truly interested in fulfilling their duty in serving the public good and helping to build up a more informed citizenry, they would be grilling the Cuomo administration on their nursing home debacle... Instead, they're melting down over arguably the most-tested man in the world not wearing a mask."
Regarding the network's coronavirus coverage, Houck added, "If a segment isn't focused on hating the president, decrying reopenings of any kind, or covering for China, it's not worth giving serious thought."
Cuomo recently reversed his March 25 order that forced nursing homes to accept patients who tested positive for coronavirus. Cuomo signed an executive order on May 11 stopping hospitals from sending infected patients back to nursing homes and ramping up testing for staff.
Nearly 5,800 people have died from COVID-19 in nursing homes in New York. Roughly 20 percent of all deaths in the state have occurred in nursing homes.
Cuomo has largely gotten a pass from CNN as the liberal network has largely refrained from airing critical coverage of the Democratic governor. On Wednesday, he appeared for his tenth interview with his brother, "Cuomo Prime Time" anchor Chris Cuomo.
As in previous interviews, the CNN anchor made no mention of the growing death toll in New York nursing homes. Yet, he did manage to squeeze in some prop comedy, mocking the governor's televised coronavirus testing examination with overly sized cotton swabs while poking fun at the size of his nose.
There was only one mention of nursing homes during the entire interview, when Gov. Cuomo was boasting about the state's increased coronavirus testing capabilities and listed nursing homes and prisons among the sites that they have been administered.
"CNN's coverage of Andrew Cuomo has been consistent with much of the media, focus on the glowing verbiage and ignore the catastrophic mishandling of nursing homes that led to thousands of deaths,” Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson told Fox News.
“This problem is compounded by a serious conflict of interest arising from the relationship between Chris Cuomo, one of CNN's highest-profile news personalities, and his brother the Governor,” Jacobson added. “Chris Cuomo should not be allowed to cover or comment on air about his brother, and CNN should appoint someone to monitor and review coverage of Andrew Cuomo to prevent this conflict of interest from bleeding over to other news coverage.”
Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean told "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Thursday that Cuomo's failed nursing home policy should be "one of the biggest" stories of the year after both of her parents-in-law lost their lives to the coronavirus.
"I have not seen the coverage of this ... ," an emotional Dean said. "Twenty percent of our lost loved ones are from nursing homes ... because Governor Cuomo and several other governors forced COVID-recovering patients into nursing homes."
Dean, who rarely comments on political issues, felt compelled to speak out after watching Wednesday night's CNN interview between the two playful Cuomo brothers.
"The fact that I am seeing, last night, him ... making fun, inappropriate jokes and insensitive jokes, cruel jokes ... make no mistake," Dean said, "I am glad that Chris Cuomo has recovered from COVID because he apparently did have it. And I'm glad that their family is well, but my family is not well. And that is not something to joke about."
Fox News' Brian Flood, Morgan Phillips, and Yael Halon contributed to this report.