CNN’s Chris Cuomo tells viewers he urged his brother to resign as New York governor
Returning from a weeklong vacation Monday, CNN host Chris Cuomo talked publicly for the first time about the resignation of his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying he urged the governor to step down.
Cuomo took last week off as scrutiny intensified over how he advised his brother when the governor first faced the sexual harassment allegations that forced him out of office.
He addressed the matter along with the growing criticism over how he dealt with the governor on his program as he went from early hero of the COVID-19 pandemic to another disgraced politician caught in a sexual harassment scandal.
“It’s never easy being in this business and coming from a political family especially now,” Cuomo told viewers. “This situation is unlike anything I could have imagined. And yet I know what matters at work and at home. Everyone knows you support your family. I know and appreciate that you get that. But you should also know I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have a conflict.”
Cuomo had to apologize to viewers and his colleagues in May after a Washington Post report revealed he participated in calls with his brother’s staff as they strategized how to combat the harassment charges. Journalists directly participating in politics is a fundamental breach of professional ethics.
Cuomo said he ceased communication with his brother’s aides once he was told by his CNN bosses to stop.
“I acknowledged it was a mistake,” he said. “I apologized to my colleagues and I stopped and I meant it. It was a unique situation being a brother to a politician in scandal and being part of the media. I tried to do the right thing.”
Cuomo said he “never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward” to accuse his brother of sexual harassment. He said his advice was “own what you did, tell people what you’ll do to be better, be contrite, and finally accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived.”
Cuomo added that “when the time came” he urged his brother to resign. The governor announced on Aug. 10 that he will be leave office on Aug. 24.
A state investigation found that Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women who were current and former staffers and others who did not work for his administration. The probe conducted by New York state Atty. Gen. Letitia James found that Gov. Cuomo violated state and federal laws with his actions.
Gov. Cuomo denied any intentional wrongdoing but said he will leave office rather than go through an impeachment trial.
At the South by Southwest festival in March, CNN chief Jeff Zucker was presented with a question he’s been hearing since President Trump’s stunning White House win in 2016.
Gov. Cuomo’s troubles have created an obstacle course for CNN to navigate as network President Jeff Zucker has stood behind his top-rated host.
After the harassment investigation story broke on Aug. 3, Chris Cuomo avoided the topic on “Cuomo Prime Time,” the most-watched program on CNN. But he remained in the host chair, upsetting some employees at the network who thought at least a temporary break was in order.
CNN already faced criticism for allowing Cuomo to interview his brother when the governor was haled for his early handling of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York. Chris Cuomo noted that the joint appearances ended eight months before reports in February that the governor’s office undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in the state’s nursing homes.
Chris Cuomo said his appearances with the governor were a temporary departure from the CNN edict that he not cover his brother, something he observed since joining the network in 2013.
“I said last year that his appearances on this show would be short-lived and they were,” he said. “The last was over a year ago long before any kind of scandal.”
The statement, which came about 54 minutes into the program, is the longest Cuomo has spoken about the matter. He also said he will not be discussing it again.
“As I’ve said, we have rules here at CNN that prevent me from reporting on my brother,” he said. “They remain in place.”
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