CNN suspended news host Chris Cuomo after new details emerged regarding the help he gave his brother Andrew Cuomo in the New York governor’s multiple sexual harassment suits.
Chris Cuomo had served as a close adviser to the governor during the last year and a half of his governorship before he was forced to resign due to the scandals.
The CNN anchor was axed by the network on Tuesday after new details came to light about his repeated efforts to help his brother. He had already apologized for giving advice to his brother’s senior aides, which was a clear conflict of interest.
However, the thousands of pages of evidence disclosed on Tuesday by New York Attorney General Letitia James, clearly showed that Chris Cuomo was even more involved than he had admitted previously.
CNN issued a statement on Tuesday saying “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.
“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew.
“As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation,” the CNN statement read.
The embattled cable network, which now stands third in the ratings race for news networks, behind Fox and MSNBC, had continued to back its host through many months of growing unease about his close relationship with his brother amid the scandals that broke out regarding the governor’s sending of Covid patients to nursing homes and a constellation of sexual harassment suits.
The New York Times stated that the most basic journalism standards of the news network had been questioned as the months-long investigations unfolded, adding that CNN president Jeff Zucker refused to discipline him even after reports indicated that Chris Cuomo had taken part in the “strategy sessions” of his brother’s political advisers.
This is a clear breach of the most basic reportorial norms of conduct.
The network only told Cuomo earlier this year that he could take a temporary leave of absence from his job if he opted to focus on aiding his brother’s defense in the sexual harassment cases.
The scores of emails he sent to his brother’s advisers which were brought to light on Tuesday clearly show that he was heavily involved in assisting the governor — even to the point of trying to find out if there were pending stories on his brother at Politico and The New Yorker.
The Times reports that the governor’s former top aide, Melissa DeRosa, even asked Chris Cuomo if he could check his “sources” regarding a rumor that Politico was preparing an article that had further accusations against his brother. Chris responded “On it.”
The Attorney General’s scathing report also included a text from the CNN anchor sent to the same aide after a woman called Anna Ruch told the Times that the governor had made an unwanted advance toward her when she attended a wedding.
“I have a lead on the wedding girl,” Cuomo wrote.
Later, Cuomo alleged to investigators that he had heard from a friend that “maybe she (Ruch) had been put up to it.” However, he said that he had been told by his brother’s aides that that was not true. “So that’s that,” he stated.
Cuomo had inexplicably remained in the host’s seat at CNN even after the network had publicly admitted that Cuomo’s actions had been “inappropriate” back in May of this year. A number of employees stated publicly in interviews yesterday that the Attorney General’s report only increased their upset over their former colleague’s behavior and the seeming inability of the network to discipline him appropriately.
All the employees stating such opinions this week did so anonymously; however, CNN anchor Jake Tapper had gone public in May, telling the Times in an interview that Cuomo’s behavior had “put us in a bad spot,” admitting “I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate.
“I certainly understand the love that Chris has for his brother, and I have a brother and I get it, but that was not a fun day,” Tapper stated.
Chris Cuomo drew attention to the relationship he and his brother shared on his own show on Aug. 16 in his first public remarks after Andrew Cuomo’s resignation as New York’s governor.
“I’m not an adviser, I’m a brother,” Cuomo told viewers, speaking directly to the camera, adding, “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
In place of Cuomo at 9 PM, CNN will have Anderson Cooper extending his broadcast for two hours during the time slot which used to be called “Cuomo Prime Time.”