Chris Cuomo interview with Ted Cruz goes off the rails as they have heated row over anchor’s brother

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Chris Cuomo interview with Ted Cruz goes off the rails as they have heated row over anchor's brother

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CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Senator Ted Cruz did their best debate impersonation in an off-the-rails interview that included 20-minutes of shouting, bickering, interrupting and finger-pointing.

The broadcast spiralled into chaos after Mr Cruz questioned the Covid-19 death record of Mr Cuomo’s big brother, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, over policies being investigated after an estimated 11,000 virus-related deaths in nursing homes.

It became personal shortly into the interview, ostensibly to discuss Mr Cruz’s new book One Vote Away, as Mr Cuomo said the Texas senator and fellow Republicans watched from the sidelines while the country suffered from Covid-19.

Mr Cruz said it was “disgusting” that the CNN anchor, Democrats and Joe Biden blamed people lsoing their lives on political enemies, and said it was hypocritical given the New York governor’s record on coronavirus.

“It’s not right at all and it’s particularly not right, Chris, when your brother has presided over the state with the highest death rate in the country.”

Mr Cuomo responded that New York’s record would stand for itself, before asking if Mr Cruz thought the governor intentionally killed coronavirus victims.

“Of course not!” Mr Cruz shot back. “We could have a very reasonable policy discussion about the policy mistakes in New York, New Jersey of sending Covid-positive patients into nursing homes, and I think that was a very serious policy mistake.”

The Cuomo administration issued a 25 March advisory ordering nursing homes to admit Covid-positive patients in an attempt to free up hospital bed space. The state’s Department of Health placed the number of coronavirus deaths in nursing homes to just over 6,600, but the Associated Press estimates the total is closer to more than 11,000.

“Uh-huh. Because that didn’t happen all over the country, right?” Mr Cuomo said in defence of the policy.

Mr Cruz responded that it didn’t happen in Texas, which he said was why the New York death rate was four times higher.

The insults flew thick and fast from there, with Mr Cruz calling the anchor a hypocrite for giving his brother a free pass while criticising the federal response.

“My brother was the first one to say that there was a learning curve and that mistakes were made and they changed things as soon as they could,” Mr Cuomo said.

He added: “Of course! It all troubles me, Ted! And to watch guys like you stand by and stroke your beard like a wise man instead of telling the president to get on it when you have power.”

Mr Cruz erupted: “How about you tell your brother to get on it!”

Mr Cuomo said his brother’s record would stand for itself, before asking why Mr Cruz didn’t talk to the president the way he talked to his brother.

“Are you scared of him? Are you afraid he’ll smack you down?” Mr Cuomo said.

The senator responded flippantly: “Oh yeah, I’m terrified of the Cuomos” before the anchor clarified he was talking about the president.

“The one who called you a liar. The one who said your wife was ugly. That guy. The guy now who you won’t say anything about,” Mr Cuomo said, in reference to a Trump meme.

CNN, and Mr Cuomo particularly, have been heavily criticised for not confronting the New York nursing home policy, while airing almost a dozen softball interviews between the two brothers without directly addressing the subject.

The older Cuomo, for his part, has downplayed the effects of the policy, which is being looked at by the Department of Justice.

In an interview with Finger Lakes Daily News on Wednesday, ahead of his upcoming book American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic, Mr Cuomo said that “just never happened”.

“People were lost in nursing homes were lost because that’s where the virus preys, the virus preys on immune-compromised and senior citizens and they’re predominantly located in nursing homes,” he said.

The state’s Department of Health, meanwhile, has delayed a freedom of information request for the full death toll data request from the Empire Centre for Public Policy, which has filed a lawsuit alleging the agency is hiding data without justification.

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