CNN Suspends Top Anchor For Helping Brother In Scandal
Celebrated Journalist and anchor of CNN’s most-watched evening program, Chris Cuomo has been handed an indefinite suspension after new documents revealed an improper relationship with aides to his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Tuesday’s announcement about the suspension was the equivalent of a cable news shockwave. And he was determined to stay on TV this year despite a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations against his brother, which culminated in the governor’s resignation three months ago.
Cuomo’s presence on television has been described as “ larger-than-life” but new documents released on Monday showed that the veteran journalist was more intimately involved than previously known in shaping his brother’s defense.
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday evening. “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”
“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the spokesperson continued. “But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.”
“However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” the spokesperson added. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
The suspension came after significant criticism from people who noted that Chris Cuomo had violated widely accepted journalistic norms. Inside CNN, staffers expressed dismay about the anchor’s conduct. Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo who came forward in February to accuse him of sexual harassment, called for CNN to “immediately take action.”
“Anything short of firing Chris Cuomo reflects a network lacking both morals and a backbone,” Bennett said in a tweet Tuesday.
The “Cuomo Prime Time” team had been planning for Tuesday’s broadcast up until the announcement of Chris Cuomo’s suspension, a person familiar with the matter said. Cooper’s team was also blindsided by the news and left scrambling to fill the extra hour.
After the news was made public, an emotional Chris Cuomo met with the show’s staff.
The documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James included text messages and transcripts of interviews with investigators who led the probe into allegations against the governor.
The cache of documents included text messages between Chris Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa, a then-top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that suggested he was instrumental in working to craft a defense against a flood of sexual misconduct allegations.
The text messages also revealed that Chris Cuomo sought to use his connections in the press to help prepare the then-governor’s team as accusers started to make their stories public.