CNN admits Chris Cuomo inappropriately provided brother advice on sexual harassment scandal

Media top headlines May 20

Growing outcry over Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot only granting interviews to journalists of color and more round out today’s top media headlines

CNN admitted this week that liberal host Chris Cuomo participated in strategy sessions for his brother and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, on how to handle sexual harassment allegations made against him, calling their star anchor’s involvement “inappropriate.”

The Washington Post reported Thursday Chris Cuomo 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 that the younger Cuomo urged his brother to not step down, reportedly using the term “cancel culture” at one point.

CNN acknowledged Chris Cuomo’s involvement to Fox News but said he would not be disciplined for his conduct.

“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,” CNN said in a statement. “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.”

Chris Cuomo teases older brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about his nose size during an interview in 2020.

The behind-the-scenes strategy “cuts against the widely accepted norm in journalism that those reporting the news should not be involved in politics,” the Post reported.

The brothers, scions of the Cuomo political dynasty, are known to be close. Gov. Cuomo wrote dotingly about “Christopher” in his 2020 book on his coronavirus response, and Chris Cuomo teased his older brother and called him the “Love Guv” during their on-air appearances together. The Post described the younger Cuomo, who has regularly hosted the 9 p.m. ET slot for CNN since 2018, as a “key confidant.”

It’s yet another embarrassing chapter in the Cuomo saga for the network, which already had come under fire from The Washington Post, The Associated Press and others for allowing the two to conduct friendly interviews at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. Thursday marked the one-year anniversary of one of their more infamous exchanges about Gov. Cuomo’s coronavirus test, when Chris Cuomo teased his brother with a giant nasal swab to poke fun at his nose size.

Then, as Gov. Cuomo was embroiled by scandals over both his coronavirus nursing home policy and multiple allegations of sexual harassment, Chris Cuomo announced in March that he “obviously” could not cover the story. Of course, he had already said he couldn’t be objective regarding his powerful brother when he praised his coronavirus response and proclaimed him the “best politician in the country.”

Later reports revealed Chris Cuomo was among Gov. Cuomo’s family members who received preferential coronavirus testing when tests were scarce for New Yorkers last year.

Chris Cuomo was initially prevented by CNN when he joined in 2013 from covering his brother, but the network lifted the ban for their coronavirus interview sessions in 2020. Their banter was a ratings boon for Cuomo, but media observers said it was improper from a journalistic perspective.

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