Chris Cuomo hosts CNN show, but is silent on sex harassment claims against his brother
The show went on for CNN host Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, but he did not cover the biggest news story of the day — an investigation that found his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had sexually harassed multiple women while in office.
Cuomo made no mention of his brother’s escalating scandal on CNN’s top-rated program “Cuomo Prime Time” just hours after New York State Atty. Gen. Letitia James issued her devastating report on the governor’s behavior.
James’ report found that Cuomo harassed women inside and outside state government and retaliated against one of his accusers. The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
Cuomo denied the findings, saying he never inappropriately touched anyone. He now faces calls from Democratic leaders, including President Biden, to resign.
The scandal once again put a spotlight on an ongoing conflict that CNN has navigated since the governor — once considered a hero for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — ran into serious trouble.
James’ investigation confirmed a May 20 Washington Post report that said Chris Cuomo participated in a series of conference calls earlier this year that included the Democratic governor’s top aide, his communications team, lawyers and outside advisors as Andrew Cuomo faced claims that he made inappropriate comments or touched women without their permission.
President Biden calls on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign after an investigation affirms sexual harassment allegations against the Democrat.
When the report first broke, CNN acknowledged in a statement that Chris Cuomo participated in the discussions and called it a mistake, as a journalist taking an active role in politics or government is a fundamental breach of ethics. Cuomo apologized to viewers on his program but was never suspended or disciplined.
The decision by CNN management to allow Cuomo to appear on “Cuomo Prime Time” on Tuesday surprised and upset some CNN employees, according to one company insider who was not authorized to discuss the matter.
The network covered the scandal extensively on the two programs preceding Cuomo. “Erin Burnett Outfront” spent 22 minutes on the story. “Anderson Cooper 360" devoted 26 minutes to it. Don Lemon went back to the story immediately after Cuomo finished his affectionate handoff to the host.
But Cuomo led with COVID-19 vaccine coverage and made no mention of his brother’s troubles or the need to recuse himself from the story for the rest of the hour.
CNN came under criticism in 2020 for allowing Cuomo to appear on his brother’s program during the early months of the pandemic.
Since joining CNN in 2013, Chris Cuomo has been banned from covering the governor. But the network’s executives made an exception last year as Andrew Cuomo was hailed by the public and press for his daily take-charge press conferences on the state’s handling of the pandemic.
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The Cuomo brothers appeared at least a dozen times on “Chris Cuomo Tonight” last year, mixing discussion of the coronavirus with fraternal banter. Executives believed that the nature of the crisis at the time gave them the latitude to have the two appear together.
As a stunt, the brother-to-brother conversations worked as the ratings for “Cuomo Prime Time” climbed during those appearances. Their last joint appearance in May 2020 had Chris Cuomo wielding a giant cotton test swab while poking fun at the governor.
But public opinion on Cuomo began to turn after it was revealed that his office undercounted the number of COVID-19 deaths that occurred in the state’s nursing homes. CNN again prohibited the Cuomo brothers from appearing together as criticism mounted.
Chris Cuomo also came under fire when multiple news outlets reported Wednesday that he was among the people close to the governor who received priority access to testing last March as the pandemic escalated and available testing was scarce.
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