CNN, which had repeatedly defended its star anchor Chris Cuomo, finally decided to suspend him indefinitely after it became known that the journalist used his sources to favor his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
CNN acknowledged “a greater level of involvement” [in Chris Cuomo’s efforts to help his brother] “than it previously knew.”
The network announced that it will suspend its star anchor Chris Cuomo while it evaluates his conduct following stunning revelations from the New York attorney general’s investigation into his brother, former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“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 (…) However,” CNN continued, “these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation,” CNN stated.
Chris, who until today was CNN’s star anchor, had had his employer, one of the nation’s largest news networks, repeatedly defend him over scandals that tarnished his image as a journalist.
While dozens of communicators demanded Cuomo’s resignation, the network kept him on screen and went so far as to cast doubt on investigations by the New York attorney general’s office.
Text messages released by state prosecutors showed that Andrew Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, previously learned of stories that appeared in outlets such as The New Yorker, thanks to Chris Cuomo’s disclosure of details to her.
The prosecutors’ revelation contradicts the news anchor who in August stated, “I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
After learning of the official investigation, CNN preferred to hesitate and announced that it would investigate the case. “The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration,” CNN said in a statement.
“We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days,” added the television network, which was incredulous about the investigations.
Cuomo remained on screen until today despite dozens of allegations involving him such as receiving priority evidence from COVID-19; advising his brother to avoid the press in the face of sexual harassment allegations, and the host’s own admitted sexual harassment scandal.
In May, the network revealed that it had no plans to sanction Chris Cuomo for advising his brother in devising a strategy to defend himself against sexual harassment allegations.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo -— on air or behind the scenes. 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,” a CNN spokesman said. “However, 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,” he added.
CNN and Chris Cuomo: goodbye to the ethics code?
Since Cuomo has been embroiled in his own and his brother’s scandals, he has received countless criticisms from fellow communicators who accuse him of violating the code of ethics, and further pointed to CNN for constantly laundering the image of its star anchor.
“If this story is accurate, it describes a series of shocking ethical breaches — fireable offenses at any other news outlet,” wrote Rolling Stone editor-in-chief Noah Schachtman.
“Just to be clear, if anyone else on CNN’s roster did this, they’d not only be fired but blacklisted from journalism period,” insisted MSNBC columnist Eric Michael Garcia.
“It’s hard to imagine any news executive keeping Chris Cuomo on staff after today’s revelations. Then again, as CNN likes to say, “THIS is CNN'” tweeted Columbia Journalism School professor Bill Grueskin.
Fox News contributor Joe Concha criticized CNN for having Chris Cuomo on the air while the network was announcing the investigation. He repudiated that the anchor, despite trending on social media, did not mention anything about the investigation.
“You turn on CNN last night at nine o’clock and there’s Chris Cuomo on the air. Of course, he didn’t mention any of these text messages that were released at all and why he was a top trending topic on Twitter. It’s as if there’s nothing to see here,” said Concha.
It should be recalled that Cuomo was accused of sexual harassment by veteran TV news producer Shelley Ross, who claimed he grabbed her butt in 2005 when they both worked at ABC News. Chris Cuomo admitted what happened, but CNN has so far made no mention of that fact.
Recently, it was learned that the audience of the “Cuomo Prime Time” program dropped to 684,000 total viewers. The program’s lowest level since its launch three years ago.