Let’s be fair for a moment: We don’t know the women who have made claims against Chris Cuomo. We don’t know what the precise allegations were or whether it was just reporters investigating allegations. We haven’t even confirmed it’s him on the audio.
What we do know is that the CNN host was purportedly willing to talk about being questioned about those allegations with disgraced former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. (Note to Cuomo: Pick better confidants.)
We also know this: If the media’s silence about the audio is anything to go by, talking about sexual harassment allegations isn’t a big deal if you’re one of them. Believe all women, but with an asterisk — only those who are convenient.
The audio, released Tuesday by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, has Cuomo saying he faced questions about having “forced one woman to have sex” and being “the Charlie Rose of ABC” when he worked there — referring to the former CBS and PBS figure and alleged serial sexual harasser.
It’s unclear when the audio is from, although Carlson said there are many more clips like this.
Perhaps the reason CNN’s highest-rated host hasn’t faced more questions about the audio has to do with the fact that being CNN’s highest-rated host isn’t much to brag about. (Fox News notes that “Cuomo Prime Time” was the 21st-highest-rated cable news show in August, behind 13 of Fox’s own shows and seven MSNBC programs.)
Perhaps it’s that neither CNN nor Cuomo has, as of Wednesday evening, responded as to whether the individual heard talking in the clip was indeed Cuomo. That means they also haven’t addressed the content of what was said.
Perhaps it’s that the audio was uncovered by Carlson; the possibility of forcing Cuomo out while Carlson remained employed would be too much for them to bear.
Whatever the case, the audio isn’t the best augury of Cuomo’s long-term prospects in the media — at least if it is him and there’s any truth to what he’s saying.
“You know, I’m always careful when I talk to media, you know?” the man identified as Cuomo said.
“Right,” Cohen said.
“Do you know how many f—ing phone calls I’ve gotten from people at ABC who say that reporters are calling and lying about things they heard about me to try to get stories about me when I was at ABC?” Cuomo said.
“Guys calling and saying, ‘I heard he was the Charlie Rose of ABC, used to invite women to the hotel and open up his bathrobe.’ Do I look like the kind of f—ing guy who’s gotta do that?”
“Sure. Why not?” Cohen joked.
“It’s lying — ‘so I already have a good source that says that he forced one woman to have sex. I just wanted to know if you heard anything like that.’ There is no woman! There is none of that!” Cuomo continued.
“Women who do work there say, ‘Oh yeah, you know, some of these men,’ and naming me with other guys, ‘You know, we bumped into each other once in the elevator and he put his hand on my shoulder and he made me really uncomfortable.’ I mean, what the f—?” he said.
“I’m always careful with the media, always. I’ve always told you, the media is not your friend,” Cuomo said, to which Cohen agreed.
Carlson reminded his audience that Cohen was “not a minor sleazeball, but an epic sleazeball, a Hollywood-level sleazeball.” And a good friend of Cuomo’s, apparently.
As Carlson also reminded his audience, Cuomo is noted for his “overheated moral lectures.” The Cuomo we heard on the tape doesn’t exactly sound like the man who’s given to lecturing America about moral principles.
If the tape isn’t of Cuomo and Cohen, it’s easy for Cuomo to say the tape was a fake. I’d probably remember if I said something like that in the company of one of the most famous men to currently be serving a sentence for tax evasion and campaign finance violations. There’s also a high likelihood it’d get Carlson fired for not doing his due diligence regarding the audio.
More than 24 hours after the tape was released, Chris Cuomo hasn’t disavowed he’s the one on the tape. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.
Cuomo left ABC News in 2013. At the time, there weren’t many rumblings in the media about bad behavior. That’s understandable.
What isn’t: One day after this audio emerged, there still wasn’t much coverage.
In fact, it wasn’t until a certain somebody tweeted about the audio that it got any play at all.
“Will Fredo be fired by Fake News @CNN? He speaks with great disrespect about women, and it will only get worse,” President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday.
“Fredo’s Ratings are bad, so this is the time. Always terrible to speak to sleazebags, especially when you are being recorded. CNN has no choice, Fredo must go!”
Will Fredo be fired by Fake News @CNN? He speaks with great disrespect about women, and it will only get worse. Fredo’s Ratings are bad, so this is the time. Always terrible to speak to sleazebags, especially when you are being recorded. CNN has no choice, Fredo must go! https://t.co/veVwg7G1YF
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2020
Fredo, of course, is a reference to the weaker Corleone brother in “The Godfather” movies. The name derives from a 2019 incident in which the CNN anchor snapped when someone called him the name, which he says he views as an ethnic slur against those of Italian descent. (He’s used it before himself, though, so take that as you will.)
Politico reported it, but only as part of a much longer piece about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s response to a memo, allegedly from the president, ordering federal agencies to look at ways to shift funds away from New York City and other “cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”
That’s a topic for a different article, though, so here was Politico’s coverage of the audio: “Earlier on Wednesday, Trump called on CNN to fire Cuomo’s brother Chris over revelations that he had once been questioned about a sexual harassment accusation. In doing so, the president referred to Chris Cuomo as ‘Fredo,’ a reference to ‘The Godfather’ that the Cuomo family has long characterized as an anti-Italian slur.”
They gave as much space to the allegation as they did to the fact the Cuomos think “Fredo” is “an anti-Italian slur.” The ethnic sensitivities of the Cuomo family, in other words, are just as important as audio in which Chris Cuomo reveals there may have been sexual harassment allegations made about him.
If the story doesn’t just go away, the coming days will tell a great deal about just what this audio means, assuming it’s Cuomo. The atmosphere in 2020 is quite a bit different than in 2013, and if there are claims that go beyond “we bumped into each other once in the elevator and he put his hand on my shoulder and he made me really uncomfortable,” it’s much easier for women who’ve been victimized to come forward.
But then, why wouldn’t this audio have been jumped on by the media? What Cuomo was saying to Michael Cohen — again, not to belabor the point, but of all people! — certainly isn’t what he sounds like on air. This isn’t the fulminating Chris Cuomo we see every weeknight.
Of course, one can guess the reason. To cover this would be to admit it came from Fox News and Tucker Carlson specifically.
“I’ve always told you, the media is not your friend,” Cuomo told Cohen. That’s not inaccurate, at least for most of us. For right now, if Chris Cuomo wants this to all go away without having to address it, they’re the best friend a man could have.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.