Chris Cuomo advised brother Andrew Cuomo on handling sexual misconduct allegations
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo advised his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), on how to handle sexual misconduct allegations during several conference calls earlier this year, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
On the strategy calls, Chris Cuomo spoke with the governor, his top aide, his lawyers and his communications team, the Post reported.
The host of “Cuomo Prime Time” told his brother to be defiant, to not resign and to blame “cancel culture” when answering questions about the allegations, two people on one of the calls told the Post.
Both CNN and the governor’s spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, confirmed the meetings to the Post.
“There were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice,” Azzopardi said.
Since the start of the year, numerous women have accused the governor of sexual misconduct, including inappropriate comments and touching.
In a statement provided to The Hill, CNN acknowledged Cuomo should not have been acting as a public relations adviser for his brother.
The cable news network said it was “inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.”
“He will not participate in such conversations going forward,” CNN said, while adding that Chris Cuomo will not face any disciplinary action.
A spokesperson for the governor immediately responded to requests for comment from The Hill. Chris Cuomo could not be reached for comment.
Matthew Hall, president of the Society for Professional Journalists, said the CNN anchor should not have been on the calls.
“CNN is right to recognize those meetings as inappropriate for a journalist who should be transparent, truthful and beyond reproach,” Hall told The Hill. “For a better path in such a situation, think back to how then-editorial page editor of The New York Times, James Bennet, said he would recuse himself from any involvement in the outlet’s opinion coverage of the 2020 presidential election, after his brother, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, joined the race.”
Hall added that Chris Cuomo should be more open with his viewers about the conflicts between his job and his relationship with his brother.
“Chris should address this on his show and explain to CNN viewers the steps he’s taking to set boundaries around his public persona as a show host and his private relationship with his brother,” Hall said. “Those parameters should have been set up, publicized and followed from the very beginning. That they haven’t been is a black eye for Chris Cuomo, CNN and the journalism industry as a whole.”
Both Chris Cuomo and CNN have been criticized for the anchor’s coverage of his brother.
Those criticisms intensified after it was reported that Chris Cuomo and other members of the Cuomo family received preferential COVID-19 testing early on in the pandemic.
Andrew Cuomo has also been accused of covering up the number of nursing home COVID-19 deaths in New York state during the height of the pandemic. Those accusations were followed by sexual misconduct allegations from several women, including some who worked in his office.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo,” the network said in a statement provided to the Post. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is currently investigating the allegations against Andrew Cuomo. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Updated 4:02 p.m.