CNN finally comes for Chris Cuomo
CNN suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely on Tuesday night after documents released by the New York attorney general’s office revealed the extent to which he tried to assist his brother, then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), in fending off sexual harassment allegations.
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” CNN said in a statement Tuesday evening, adding: “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us 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.”
Part of Chris putting his family first seems to have involved trying to keep tabs on credible accusers of sexual harassment against his brother, who resigned in disgrace earlier this year. What it almost certainly involved was taking part in strategy discussions with the governor’s team about how to handle the cascade of allegations and tapping his media contacts in order to keep tabs on reporters chasing stories about his brother.
Nowhere in its statement does CNN apologize to its viewers, much less the accusers; it expresses sympathy only for the anchor.
Here’s one text from Chris Cuomo to top Andrew Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa: “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” an apparent reference to Anna Ruch, who alleges that the governor sexually harassed her at a wedding reception in 2019.
In another text message exchange, DeRosa wrote to Chris: “Rumor going around from Politico 1-2 more ppl coming out tomorrow. Can u check your sources?”
“On it,” Cuomo replied, before later adding, “No one has heard that yet.”
CNN heavily promoted Chris Cuomo’s interviews with his brother, whom the media crowned as the most competent and heroic leader in the early days of the pandemic:
CNN’s Chris Cuomo teases brother Andrew with giant test swabhttps://t.co/E10VGuN17S
— Natalie Allen (@NewsyNatalie) May 22, 2020
New York Times: “Andrew Cuomo Is the Control Freak We Need Right Now”
Vanity Fair: “Dear Andrew Cuomo, I want to be your First Lady”
Washington Post: “No one does it like Andrew Cuomo”
— Melissa DeRosa (@melissadderosa) April 13, 2020
During that spring, Chris served as his brother’s top media cheerleader, and much of the rest of the media ate it up. The governor’s approval rating skyrocketed as their extended on-air conversations went viral. The governor went on to sign a multimillion-dollar book deal for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
And over the course of more than ten of those Cuomo-on-Cuomo interviews starting in March 2020, Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home scandal didn’t seem to be of any interest to his anchor-brother, despite growing evidence at the time of a massive cover up.
“The stunning admission of a cover-up was made by Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa during a video conference call with state Democratic leaders ” -Cuomo aide admits they hid nursing home data so feds wouldn’t find out https://t.co/MKTEG345ar via @nypmetro
— Dave McKinley (@DaveMcKinley2) February 12, 2021
When the going was good, “Keeping up with the Cuomos” was difficult to avoid. But in March 2021, as the nursing home coverup and sexual harassment accusers began to come forward, the network announced that Chris would no longer be allowed to cover – or even discuss – these huge national stories. How utterly convenient.
Not to belabor the point, but in the pantheon of “access journalism,” the “q-tip” moment between the Cuomo brothers is going to be a hard image to live down. You can’t just cover someone when the news is positive. https://t.co/U1vmAidv9i pic.twitter.com/CXGXmOnknX
— Jim Lokay (@LokayFOX5) March 2, 2021
As November turns to December, it’s hard to see how the 9 p.m. anchor returns, given this overwhelming evidence of journalistic malfeasance. Many media members are calling for his outright firing.
If this story is accurate, it describes a series of shocking ethical breaches — fireable offenses at any other news outlet. https://t.co/EqFsllFk9m
— Noah Shachtman (@NoahShachtman) November 29, 2021
If some news channel intern did what Chris Cuomo did they’d have been fired one second after these docs were published https://t.co/IVw6XvKujP
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 30, 2021
He’s gotta go. https://t.co/IBNCDr0jUB
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) November 29, 2021
For a network that has lost three-quarters of its audience since the beginning of the year, things may continue to get worse before they get better. If they get better.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor
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