International TV Academy takes back Andrew Cuomo's honorary Emmy for COVID-19 leadership

In the early days of the pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's daily news conferences on the coronavirus were a regular thing, like his constituents clapping or honking horns to salute healthcare workers every night. And thanks to TV, his face was a fixture on screens across the country.

In November, the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences even awarded him its International Emmy Founders Award — which had previously gone to former Vice President Al Gore and entertainment industry executives — for his "effective communication and leadership" during COVID-19.

When Cuomo officially left office Tuesday, two weeks after he announced his resignation, following a New York attorney general's investigation that concluded he sexually harassed at least 11 women, the academy abruptly took it back. (Cuomo has continued to deny touching anyone inappropriately, but said he resigned so that the state could move on.)

"The International Academy announced today that in light of the New York Attorney General's report, and Andrew Cuomo's subsequent resignation as Governor, it is rescinding his special 2020 International Emmy Award," officials said on the organization's website. "His name and any reference to his receiving the award will be eliminated from International Academy materials going forward."

International Emmy Awards (Photo:
International Emmy Awards (Photo:

It was just nine months ago that Cuomo's award was announced. At the time, Bruce Paisner, the academy's president and CEO, said, "The Governor's 111 daily briefings worked so well because he effectively created television shows, with characters, plot lines, and stories of success and failure. People around the world tuned in to find out what was going on, and New York tough became a symbol of the determination to fight back."

Following the news, Cuomo's onetime political opponent, Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, joked that she had held on to her Emmys, which she won for best supporting actress for the HBO sitcom in 2004 and for her 2008 guest role on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.

Emmys have rarely been revoked, but it has happened. The academy infamously opted not to give its 2017 International Emmy Founders Award to the announced recipient, Kevin Spacey, for his work on House of Cards, after actor Anthony Rapp said he was sexually assaulted by Spacey as a teen.

Spacey publicly apologized to Rapp in October 2017, but he said he does not remember the encounter.