Chris Cuomo condemned for advising brother on sexual harassment scandal

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<span>Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP</span>
Photograph: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

CNN host Chris Cuomo has once again been thrust in the spotlight after a bombshell report released on Tuesday by New York attorney general Letitia James detailed multiple instances of sexual harassment and nonconsensual touching by his brother Andrew Cuomo, the New York governor.

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The report sheds light on new details surrounding Chris Cuomo’s involvement in managing his brother’s response, earlier this year, to the sexual harassment scandal.

“Chris wants to make sure we have enough contrition here,” political consultant Lis Smith wrote in a chain of messages to other Cuomo allies in February.

Chris Cuomo was also copied on a series of emails from Governor Cuomo’s communication director and chief of staff on how to handle the sexual allegations made by Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo.

Chris Cuomo also appeared to draft a statement for his brother, writing, among other contritions: “I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm … My only desire is to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”

On Tuesday night, on his primetime show, Chris Cuomo did not mention the report or its findings.

As the new revelations shed light on the extent of the governor’s scandal, many CNN employees were highly critical of the network’s decision to not discipline Chris Cumo for his involvement.

Speaking anonymously to BuzzFeed News, one current CNN employee said: “I think that, as journalists, it’s our responsibility to act in the most responsible possible way, not only to maintain journalistic integrity, but also for the public to regain trust in journalism and television news.”

The employee said: “And the fact that Chris Cuomo wasn’t fired over his inappropriate conflict of interest in actively affecting a news story is not only irresponsible of CNN, but also a disgrace to journalism.”

Another former CNN employee said, “It’s so emblematic of CNN. The more prominent you are the less the rules and discipline apply to you. That’s been a gripe people have complained about forever.”

Since the pandemic, Chris Cuomo has interviewed his brother on his show several times about his coronavirus response. The governor was highly praised at the beginning of the pandemic for his news briefings, which at the time stood in contrast to Donald Trump’s attempts to downplay it.

In one interview, Chris said to his brother: “I love you as a brother. Obviously I’ll never be objective, [but] obviously I think you’re the best politician in the country.”

In May, Chris Cuomo apologized for consulting his brother on talking points related to the accusations. “Being a journalist and a brother to a politician is … a unique challenge, and I have a unique responsibility to balance those roles,” he said.

As criticism grows, Chris has stayed silent on the charges against his brother since the report’s release. His popular show, Cuomo Prime Time, aired on Tuesday night without any mention of the report, nor the host’s apparent involvement in the response mangement.

One current CNN employee said to BuzzFeed News: “I think that [CNN President] Jeff [Zucker] has made it clear that he has Chris’s back no matter what.”

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