Sorry, Not Much Just Changed in New York and California

US
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, N.Y., May 24, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

I find it odd that the New York Times chose to put forth a “triumphant” (Oliver Darcy, CNN), full six-column headline trumpeting: “‘Momentous’: New York and California Open” today. I live in New York City, and it’s pretty hard to identify anything that is different.

In California, the Times actually had to send out a team of reporters to try to find evidence that anything much had changed. So which is it: Huge, “triumphant” six-column-headline news or . . . no actual news at all?

“My colleagues reporting on California’s big reopening found much the same around the state: Depending on where you were or what you were doing, many things stayed the same, and reactions to the fanfare were mixed,” wrote one Times correspondent.

Moreover, “Both states will still abide by mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has advised that unvaccinated people should wear masks indoors and maintain social distancing.”

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And state restrictions will remain in place on mass transit, in schools, in prisons, in hospitals, and at mass events such as concerts and sporting events. In other words, neither state is even close to back to normal. And that’s not even taking into account all of the private restrictions that businesses may choose to implement on a case-by-case basis. In Manhattan, roughly half the people I saw walking around outdoors were still wearing masks. That’s on them. I don’t care. But, really, what has changed?

Well, in New York, “restaurants will no longer be forced to space tables six feet apart; movie theaters will be allowed to pack their auditoriums without spacing seats apart; and entering commercial buildings won’t require a temperature check.”

That’s it? Those details are worth the kind of six-column headline that’s ordinarily reserved for the end of a war or the election of a president or something along those lines?

Farther down in the Times‘ front-page story, one learns that, just by coincidence, the supposed grand reopening day, June 15, is Cuomo’s father’s birthday. Cuomo, I remind you, once shoved into a bill after midnight a provision to rename the Tappan Zee Bridge after his father Mario. One also learns that both California and New York’s governors are embattled: Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by ten women (the world’s slowest investigation into these claims, which date back to January, is under way, courtesy of the state legislature), and California’s Gavin Newsom is facing a recall vote in a few weeks. Cuomo also covered up nursing-home deaths and apparently used state employees working on taxpayer salaries to write a book that earned him $5.1 million, though its sales did not come anywhere near justifying that figure.

The Times story blandly notes, of this colossal pileup of Cuomo scandals, “Multiple state and federal investigations are looking into the accusations, as well as his handling of nursing home death information and a $5.1 million deal he received last year to write a pandemic memoir.” His handling of nursing-home-death information! Cuomo forced COVID sufferers into nursing homes, where they died and caused others to die, then covered this up for many months, while he was having state employees work on a book to line his own pockets!

Midway through all of the celebration, the Times informs us that in both New York and California, “The two governors, both Democrats who are facing political difficulties, made their announcements at events that seemed more like rallies than news conferences.”

Ahhhhh. Exactly. These were campaign rallies, not news conferences, because there was no news to speak of on June 15. The Times‘ trumpeting of this story simply amounts to an in-kind contribution to the campaigns of two Democratic governors.

I’m having a hard time picturing the Times breathlessly and uncynically participating in a rally for Donald Trump by providing him with an extended front-page press release and a six-column headline framing him as the conqueror of coronavirus and mentioning only in the most delicate terms that he was under a cloud of suspicion.

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