CNN suspends Chris Cuomo for helping brother in scandal
CNN indefinitely suspended anchor Chris Cuomo on Tuesday after details emerged about how he helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to face charges of sexual harassment earlier this year.
The network said documents released by New York's attorney general Monday indicated Cuomo took a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than CNN executives previously knew.
“As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation,” the network said.
The CNN anchor pressed sources for information on his brother's accusers and reported back to the governor's staff, and was active in helping craft their response to the charges, according to emails and a transcript of his testimony to investigators working for state Attorney General Letitia James. Her office found Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.
Chris Cuomo previously acknowledged talking to his brother and offering advice when the governor faced harassment charges. But the information released Monday revealed far more details about what exactly Chris Cuomo did. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial.
Cuomo's program, which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time on weeknights, averaged 1.3 million viewers, narrowly outpacing Anderson Cooper as CNN's most popular show, according to the Nielsen company. Like many cable newscasts, viewership is down significantly after being swollen during the election year.
Cuomo appeared on his program on Monday night, talking about COVID-19 and politics without mentioning his own issues.
There was no immediate response to a request for comment sent to Cuomo and the lawyer who represented him during this summer's testimony.
Anderson Cooper subbed for Cuomo on his show Tuesday.
During the first two months of the pandemic, Cuomo interviewed his brother on the air a number of times. It was a hit with viewers, although it violated CNN's policy of not having Cuomo report on his brother, and was a programming choice that has grown worse with time and additional revelations.
Chris Cuomo frequently consulted with his brother's aides when Andrew was fighting the charges last May, sometimes disagreeing with their advice.
“This is my brother, and I'm trying to help my brother through a situation where he told me he did nothing wrong,” Cuomo testified last July to investigators at the attorney general's office.
Cuomo, who recently apologized himself after a sexual harassment allegation against him, has insisted he has done nothing to try to influence CNN’s coverage of his brother’s political problems, and that it would be quickly found out if he did.
Cuomo also said he reached out to other journalists to find out whether they were writing stories about his brother, most notably seeking information on what Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker was writing. He acknowledged he didn't tell CNN he was doing this, and characterized his actions as nothing out of the ordinary for a journalist.
Critics have called on CNN to take action following the attorney general's release, with David A. Graham of The Atlantic saying Cuomo should resign — or be fired by CNN if he doesn't.
After it was first revealed last May by The Washington Post that Cuomo had consulted with his brother's aides, CNN released a statement saying that his actions were inappropriate, but it did not discipline him.
Cuomo, a lawyer, is 13 years younger than Andrew Cuomo, who he has described as his best friend. They are the sons of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was in office from 1982 to 1996.
He worked for several years at ABC News, joining CNN in 2013 as co-host of the network's morning show.
A veteran TV executive, Shelley Ross, wrote a column for The New York Times in September saying Cuomo had groped her at a party 16 years ago. Cuomo told the newspaper that “I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”