Janice Dean: Profile in Courage

She would not be dismissed.

Janice Dean, the “weather machine” meteorologist at Fox News, has stood up as a role model for every American charged with the responsibility of taking care of aging parents — and for that matter for all Americans when it comes to standing up against powerful elites.

In case it has escaped notice, Ms. Dean’s in-laws passed away when they were caught up in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s off-the-charts irresponsible decision to place COVID patients in New York nursing homes — including the nursing home where her in-laws were residing.

She wrote up that story in USA Today with this headline:

COVID-19 killed my in-laws after Cuomo’s reckless New York nursing home policy

Janice wrote this about Sean and Dee Newman:

At first, we didn’t blame anyone for their deaths. This is a pandemic, and the virus is particularly dangerous for the elderly. Then we learned about the Cuomo administration’s March 25 order that recovering coronavirus patients be placed into nursing homes. The mandate also barred nursing homes from requiring incoming patients “to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.”

That order stayed in effect for 46 days during which time over 6,000 patients with the virus were placed into these facilities housing our most vulnerable. To date, at least 6,500 of our most helpless seniors have been killed by the virus. Even the governor himself said the virus could sweep though nursing homes “like fire though dry grass.”

As time went on, Dean watched as the media practically worshipped Cuomo for his handling of the virus, ignoring completely the results of what he had done. As she began to understand the wide gulf between Cuomo’s actual policies that resulted in the deaths of her in-laws and the media coverage painting him as some sort of hero, she was infuriated.

A personal word here. I don’t know Janice Dean and up until this moment had only been familiar with aspects of her career — now on Fox and earlier when she was on the late Don Imus’s radio show.

But most assuredly I know exactly what it is like to care for aging parents, as do millions of Americans. In my case as an only child, the moment arrived at a difficult time in 2004 when I had switched careers from government to writing and had made myself a soon-to-be penniless wannabe writer unless I stopped and went back to a “real” job where I was living in Washington, D.C. But my job search came to a grinding halt when I realized my father, living in Pennsylvania, was beginning to suffer, at 87, the tell-tale signs of Alzheimer’s. Broke, with an impatient landlord who had the audacity to demand the rent, I packed up and moved home.

For two years I was the “caretaker” for my dad, as the phrase goes in the caring business. He decidedly did not want to shift to the nearby assisted living place, and I refused to place him in one. He died peacefully at home two years later. And I, along with my mother, was right there with him.

Which left me with my then-88-year-old mom. She was doing well enough for a long enough time afterwards, but, inevitably, as time passed, there was a slow physical decline with an inability to walk. In her last year or so dementia set in. She made it to a week after her 99th birthday in 2018, tended to by me and, from time to time if I were out of the house galavanting around the country with CNN for election coverage, the blessed folks at Visiting Angels. I was right with her when she passed.

In retrospect I am decidedly glad both my parents were gone by 2020 and the advent of COVID. But that was not the case for Janice Dean and her family, who, doubtless in good faith, were relying on a nursing home to take care of the Newmans. The fact that Janice and her family were not allowed to be with her in-laws when they passed is surely unimaginably painful.

What is evident now is that once Dean understood exactly what had happened to her in-laws — and why — she had the courage to stand up and quite publicly take on Gov. Cuomo. She was the proverbial dog with a bone, demanding answers from the governor when the mainstream media was repeatedly ignoring what had actually happened in favor of a narrative that Cuomo was some sort of hero. This latter narrative was doubtless fueled in part by the media’s hatred of President Trump, and one way to diss Trump was to celebrate Cuomo.

When Dean persisted in demanding answers, a snotty Cuomo aide snarked, “Last I checked she’s not a credible source on anything except maybe the weather.”

And then.

Almost seven months to the day after Dean wrote that op-ed in USA Today came this headline in January 2021 in the New York Post:

COVID-19 deaths in NY nursing homes were 50 percent higher than claimed: probe

The story reported this bombshell:

New York’s nursing-home death toll from COVID-19 may be more than 50 percent higher than officials claim — because Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration hasn’t revealed how many of those residents died in hospitals, state Attorney General Letitia James announced Thursday.

In a damning, 76-page report, James also said that some unidentified nursing homes apparently underreported resident fatalities to the state Department of Health and failed to enforce infection-control measures — with more than 20 currently under investigation.

Now comes this new story from the New York Post, which is nothing if not vindication for Janice Dean. The headline:

Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out

The story says this:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide privately apologized to Democratic lawmakers for withholding the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 — telling them “we froze” out of fear that the true numbers would “be used against us” by federal prosecutors, The Post has learned.

The stunning admission of a coverup was made by secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders in which she said the Cuomo administration had rebuffed a legislative request for the tally in August because “right around the same time, [then-President Donald Trump] turns this into a giant political football,” according to an audio recording of the two-hour-plus meeting.

Got that? The state’s nursing home death toll was deliberately — say again deliberately — underreported by as much as 50 percent. Why? Because Andrew Cuomo was playing politics.

Gov. Cuomo’s reputation is now, justifiably, in tatters. Bipartisan calls for his resignation, impeachment, or removal from office are rising.

All of which is to say that when Janice Dean stood up and publicly and repeatedly challenged the governor on his handling of the virus, when she castigated the liberal media’s coverage of Cuomo, she was, it is now clearly seen, 100 percent accurate and right to do so.

Note well: Janice Dean did not have to do any of this. She could have grieved in private for her in-laws and gone on about her public career as Janice Dean the weather machine.

But instead, she stood up. She had the courage to question what she and the other families of nursing home COVID victims were being told. She had the audacity to quite publicly and directly challenge the powerful governor of New York.

In the up-and-down world of television it was always possible that someone in the Fox network’s executive suite would be uncomfortable with her completely non-weather-related appearances in the public eye and fire her. She persisted anyway.

Now, Janice Dean has been vindicated. Vindicated big time. The revelation of Cuomo’s conduct of the virus and the lies told to protect his conduct has, as mentioned, launched those calls for his resignation, his impeachment, and, yes, even for his criminal prosecution.

Vindication or not, surely none of this has been easy for Dean and her family. At the very heart of all this is exactly what I and so many millions of other Americans have gone through or are going through right this minute — figuring out how best to take care of beloved aging parents. And fighting for their right to do so as they see fit.

Somewhere one suspects Sean and Dee Newman are terribly proud of their daughter-in-law. They should be.

They know a profile in courage when they see it.

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Author: Jeffrey Lord

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