The journalists at CBS This Morning on Monday offered a jovial segment on Groundhog's Day and Bill de Blasio's 2014 mishap where he dropped "Staten Island Chuck." Yet, they ignored the mayor's less funny role in the rodent's death. Video of the incident played as co-host Norah O'Donnell mused, "You may remember last year that the Mayor dropped the groundhog. Well, this year, he didn't even try to pick it up."
Co-host Gayle King joked, "Yeah, the groundhog said, 'Please, Mr. Mayor, leave me alone. I'll stay right here.'" As the hosts chucked, King added, "Looked like a drop to me." Left unsaid in the segment: Seven days after dropping Chuck, the animal died of "internal injuries."
Then, the coverup began, according to the New York Post:
Staten Island Zoo officials went to great lengths to hide the death from the public ... Instead of revealing the sad loss, the zoo—which gets nearly half of its $3.5?million in annual funding from the city—told the staff to keep the mayor's office in the dark about the animal's fate.
They told only a few zoo supporters — but claimed that the groundhog had died of natural causes.
Over on the Today show, the hosts avoided directly stating de Blasio's role in the groundhog's untimely demise. Al Roker said of Chuck, "He's unfortunately passed." Willie Geist haltingly offered, "I don't want to open that can of worms. Mayor de Blasio, you know, got a little butterfingers and –"
Although they were all vague, Roker still tried to defend the mayor: "In the mayor's defense, [groundhogs] are very aggressive, feisty. They are hard to hold onto."
In contrast, on MSNBC's Daily Rundown With Jose Diaz-Balart, the anchor bluntly said of the 2015 ceremony:
JOSE DIAZ-BALART: New Yorkers all remember this last year. Mayor de Blasio dropping Staten island Chuck. The poor animal died a few weeks later. This year, as you can see, the Staten Island Zoo took protective measures putting a new Chuck behind glass, surviving de Blasio's visit this morning.
A transcript of the February 2 CBS This Morning segment is below:
NORAH O'DONNELL: Aww, bummer! Winter has six more weeks to go. That's the verdict for Punxsutawney Phil this morning. His handler says Phil saw his shadow – They say Phil saw his shadow at the Groundhog's Day event in Pennsylvania. Other groundhogs may see it differently. In New York City, Staten Island's Chuck predicted an early spring this morning alongside Mayor Bill DeBlasio. You may remember last year that the Mayor dropped the groundhog. Well, this year, he didn't even try to pick it up. [B-roll video of de Blasio dropping groundhog.]
GAYLE KING: Yeah, the groundhog said, "please, Mr. Mayor, leave me alone. I'll stay right here."
CHARLIE ROSE: You couldn't tell whether he dropped or he jumped.
KING: Looked like a drop to me.