CNN admits Chris Cuomo inappropriately gave brother Andrew advice on sexual harassment scandal
CNN won’t discipline the anchor, who participated in strategy sessions advising the New York governor not to resign over harassment charges.
CNN’s biggest star has become the network’s most problematic star over the past year- maybe even more so than Jeffrey Toobin.
Chris Cuomo was forced to address a stunning report from The Washington Post revealing that he participated in strategy sessions earlier this year with his brother, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid growing sexual misconduct allegations.
The Post detailed how the CNN anchor joined conference calls with top aides to the embattled governor earlier this year as charges of harassment mounted and prompted calls from both sides of the aisle for his resignation. Sources told the paper the younger Cuomo urged his brother to not step down and even invoked “cancel culture,” a talking point the governor used back in March while engaging with reporters.
The “Cuomo Prime Time” host admitted it was a “mistake” and offered an apology to his CNN colleagues for putting them in a “bad spot.” His mea culpa was ultimately panned by critics.
The women’s group UltraViolet called on CNN to suspend Cuomo and conduct an investigation over his influence of the network’s coverage of the governor, something he himself denied on his show.
A CNN insider bashed the anchor, calling his advice to his brother “despicable.”
“It’s the height of hypocrisy for Chris to have [his brother] on there for the good news but doesn’t have him on to discuss the bad news,” the insider told Fox News. “It’s laughable for him to be so judgmental of other people for their wrongdoings and he’s sitting there enabling and coming up with excuses for someone with sexual misconduct allegations.”
The Post’s report on the Cuomo strategy sessions came on the one-year anniversary of the CNN anchor’s infamous prop comedy skit he conducted with his brother.
Chris Cuomo was mocking the governor’s nasal swab COVID test, using overly-sized Q-tips to demonstrate how big of a nose his brother has.
It was just one of nearly a dozen chummy interviews CNN allowed the Cuomo Brothers to have the early months of the coronavirus outbreak. The two of them would chide each other’s looks and bicker over their affection for their mother, but the anchor would also give the governor a platform to tout his leadership amid the pandemic.
Cuomo was previously barred from covering the New York governor, a rule that was apparently lifted by the network at the beginning of the pandemic and later reimplemented as the Democrat became engulfed in a tsunami of political scandals.
There were critics who called out the conflict of interest at the time, but the playful banter between the Cuomo brothers was widely embraced by fans of the governor, many of them being members of the media as news organizations praised the Democrat’s response to the pandemic and obsessed over his daily press briefings.
Meanwhile, a controversy was brewing over the Cuomo administration’s apparent undercounting of COVID nursing home deaths in New York, something that was later confirmed by New York Attorney General Letitia James in January of this year.
The undercounting came after Gov. Cuomo’s controversial order requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients to prevent overflow at hospitals, which critics believe is responsible for the deaths of thousands of elderly New Yorkers. The governor rescinded the order on May 11, 2020, after it was signed six weeks prior.
It wasn’t until June 24, 2020, that Chris Cuomo lobbed a softball question to his brother about the controversy, clearly underestimating the magnitude of the scandal at the time.
However, the CNN anchor himself was implicated in another scandal that emerged out of Albany.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Chris Cuomo was a beneficiary of the Cuomo administration as he received prioritized COVID testing in the early months of the pandemic as ordinary New Yorkers struggled. A top New York physician was even sent to his house in the Hamptons to conduct such testing for visits that often lasted hours.
The younger Cuomo was ultimately diagnosed with the virus back in March 2020. It is unknown if the positive COVID test he took was funded by himself, his employer, or by New York taxpayers.
Amid his recovery in April, he was caught breaking quarantine and was seen outside on another property in the Hamptons, which was in clear violation of his brother’s COVID guidelines. That led to an altercation between the anchor and the bicyclist who called him out. The bicyclist later filed a police report.
Also in April, the CNN anchor bizarrely staged his own re-emergence from the basement of his Hamptons home after his outdoor scuffle was widely reported.
Critics immediately blasted Cuomo’s artificial made-for-TV moment, something his viewers did not know was completely fake. It remains unclear why CNN allowed its anchor to air such a fabricated stunt.
This wasn’t the only time Cuomo flouted COVID safety precautions. While he was lecturing Republicans for not wearing masks and scolding the so-called “superspreader” events that President Trump held during the election cycle, he was seen about town not wearing a mask or socially distancing. He was even reprimanded by management of his own apartment building for not wearing a mask in common areas, according to a letter obtained by “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” also obtained 2018 audio recordings of Cuomo offering media advice to ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen ahead of what was supposed to be a scheduled CNN appearance.
Cuomo is also heard complaining to Cohen about apparent sexual misconduct allegations he was being accused of during his time working at ABC News, which he denied in the conversation.
And while he was turning a blind eye on his brother’s nursing home scandal, Cuomo spent much of 2020 targeting Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, particularly promoting a fake conspiracy theory that his administration pressured a government health official to alter COVID data in order to push for the state’s reopening.
“Now too many see the protests as the problem. No, the problem is what forced your fellow citizens to take to the streets: persistent, poisonous inequities and injustice,” Cuomo told his viewers. “And please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful. Because I can show you that outraged citizens are what made the country what she is and led to any major milestone. To be honest, this is not a tranquil time.”
He later added, “Police are the ones required to be peaceful, to deescalate, to remain calm.”
On top of all of his personal and professional woes, Chris Cuomo has suffered a sharp decline in viewership despite maintaining his status as CNN’s most-watched anchor.
“Cuomo Prime Time” saw a whopping 40% drop in viewership from last year going from an average of 1.8 million viewers in the second week of May 2020 to an average of a measly 1.09 million viewers in the same week of May 2021, according to Nielsen data.
Despite the turbulent year he had and his audience rapidly fleeing, Chris Cuomo is apparently in CNN’s good graces as the network told the Washington Post it would not take any disciplinary action against its anchor for advising his brother amid his sexual misconduct scandal although the pro-Cuomo network acknowledged that his participation in the strategy sessions was “inappropriate.”
While the anchor acknowledged on Thursday that he cannot be “objective” about his family, that didn’t stop the CNN star from hyping Gov. Cuomo’s potential presidential aspirations and even declaring him the “best politician in the country.”
“Everything that he had ever said about public service is what you demonstrated right here and right now during this period when your state needed it most,” Cuomo told his brother in June 2020 during his final CNN interview with the governor. “Obviously, I’ll never be objective. Obviously, I think you’re the best politician in the country. But I hope you feel good about what you did for your people because I know they appreciate it. Nothing’s perfect, you’ll have your critics, but I’ve never seen anything like what you did and that’s why I’m so happy to have had you on this show and I hope you know that.”
Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rutz contributed to this report.
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