CNN’s Chris Cuomo under fire again for advising brother on harassment scandal

CNN's Chris Cuomo attends the Hollywood Reporter's Most Powerful People in Media reception on April 11, 2019, in New York.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo attends the Hollywood Reporter’s annual Most Powerful People in Media reception on April 11, 2019, in New York.
(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Details of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s involvement in managing brother and former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal are raising new concerns inside the cable news network.

Transcripts of Chris Cuomo’s testimony for New York State Atty. Gen. Letitia James’ investigation showed the CNN star offered to contact other journalists he knew to learn if there were any new women coming forward to make accusations against his brother.

Chris Cuomo gave a deposition in July for the report that found the former governor had sexually harassed 11 women, including several who worked with him.


According to texts in the attorney general’s report released Monday, Chris Cuomo firmly weighed in on the communications strategy for his brother’s response to the scandal as it unfolded earlier this year and offered to investigate at least one claim.

He is quoted as saying he had information on a woman who accused the former governor of unwanted touching at a wedding reception. “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” he wrote in a text to the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, according to the report summarized by the Associated Press. The report also says Cuomo sought to get information on a story journalist Ronan Farrow was working on about the governor.

The new information is putting an intense spotlight on Cuomo again, leading to questions from CNN insiders as to whether the host of “Cuomo Prime Time,” the network’s highest-rated show, will keep his job. There were calls on social media for his resignation, and not just from the usual suspects in right-wing media.

“And now he has to be fired,” said former MSNBC and ESPN host Keith Olbermann on Twitter.

A CNN representative said in a statement the new material released will get “a thorough review and consideration.”

“We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days,” the representative said.

CNN’s leadership will now have to weigh the damage the story is causing to the network’s reputation.

CNN executives stood by Cuomo when it was first revealed in May that the prime-time star was involved in staff calls with his brother as he battled the harassment accusations. Following the release of James’ investigation, Andrew Cuomo resigned on Aug. 10 to avoid a likely impeachment trial.

Cuomo did not cover his brother’s travails on his CNN program. He last addressed the matter on Aug. 16, the week after Andrew Cuomo stepped down. At that time, Chris Cuomo said he urged his brother to resign.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reportedly expedited tests for his brother, sister and mother early in the pandemic.

Cuomo previously apologized to viewers and his colleagues in May after a Washington Post report first 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 was long prohibited from participating in stories about his brother, a ban that has been in effect since he joined the network from ABC News in 2013.

Nonetheless, when the pandemic emerged last year, CNN made an exception, allowing the Cuomo brothers to appear together as the governor had been receiving praise for his leadership role in managing the crisis in New York state.

Cuomo, who joined the prime time lineup in 2018, is believed to have an annual salary in the mid-seven figures.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.