A year and change after Chris Cuomo started violating every ethical norm in the book and inviting his brother on his show for what amounted to free campaign airtime on a national cable network, CNN still needs “additional clarity” about how involved its belligerent host was in former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s PR response to sexual misconduct allegations.
According to Fox News, the network issued a statement Tuesday saying it would be conducting a “thorough review and consideration” of newly released messages text messages and testimony from the New York attorney general’s investigation that revealed Chris Cuomo was embedded much more heavily in his brother’s inner circle than he had previously let on.
Cuomo had acknowledged being involved to some extent, but assured his viewers during an August mea culpa that he had only acted as a family member trying to give his brother advice.
“I was there to listen and offer my take and my advice to my brother was simple and consistent: ‘Own what you did, tell people what you’ll do to be better, be contrite and, finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is how your actions and words were perceived,'” Cuomo said after his brother resigned.
“There are stories and critics saying all kinds of things about me, many unsupported, but know this: My position has never changed. I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program. I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
However, messages and testimony released Monday revealed he had provided top Andrew Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa “intel” about a Ronan Farrow report on the allegations when asked about it in March.
“Rumor about Ronan getting ready to move,” DeRosa said in a March 9 message. “Can u check your sources?”
On March 15, Cuomo responded, “Story not ready for tomorrow.” The piece would eventually be published by The New Yorker on March 18.
.@ChrisCuomo was giving updates to DeRosa about the state of @RonanFarrow’s story on a former Gov. Cuomo aide who accused him of sexual harassment, using his sources to relay information to the administration, text exchanges show. pic.twitter.com/VTsHt3v4OJ
— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) November 29, 2021
This is a man, let’s remember, who said he acted “not an adviser” to Andrew Cuomo, just as “a brother.”
That sounds all very heartfelt, but see if you can espy that person in some of the exchanges the CNN host had with DeRosa.
Chris Cuomo’s version: “I have carefully considered Ms. Bennett’s statement and my own conduct,” he wrote in the March 1 message. “I don’t dispute our conversation was as she reports. I also do not dispute that my words and supervisory position may have created a hostile work environment. I apologize to Ms. Bennett and will promptly seek to personally communicate my apology to her. I also apologize to the people of New York State, who have a right to better conduct from their Governor. This will not happen again.”
WARNING: The following tweets contain graphic language that some readers will find offensive.
In a text exchange between @ChrisCuomo and top Andrew Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, the CNN host asks to “please let me help with the prep” of his older brother’s sexual harassment defense and helps devise a PR strategy. pic.twitter.com/XnQ3W2axWE
— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) November 29, 2021
A March 4 text, meanwhile, indicated Chris Cuomo was trying to disprove one of the allegations against his brother.
Three days after The New York Times first reported on an allegation from a woman named Anna Ruch, who said the governor sexually harassed her at a wedding in 2019, Chris Cuomo messaged DeRosa, writing, “I have a lead on the wedding girl being put up to it.”
Chris Cuomo: “I have a lead on the wedding girl being put up to it.”
This apparently refers to Anna Ruch, who accused Andrew Cuomo of putting his hand on her lower back and, when she objected, putting his hands on her cheeks and asking to kiss her.https://t.co/c6HUWOpKRj pic.twitter.com/DvHaNyQqzP
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) November 29, 2021
Not an “adviser,” just “a brother.” Remember that.
Anyway, one suspects Chris Cuomo might have “intel” on the execs at CNN, because they’re still unwilling to cut the cord with their host.
“The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserves a thorough review and consideration,” CNN said in a statement.
“We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
Well, here’s some “clarity” for CNN:
Chris Cuomo violated journalistic ethics by having his brother on his program for almost a dozen softball segments during the early days of the pandemic last year; the jocular promotional appearances helped cement the governor’s status as a COVID celebrity. It could be argued that, until his scandals began accumulating, Cuomo was the most powerful elected Democrat in the nation — and his brother played no small part in cultivating this.
This wasn’t enough for CNN to cut him loose. Nor was it enough when Andrew Cuomo’s scandals began tumbling out, nor when it was first reported Chris Cuomo advised his brother on the sexual misconduct allegations.
There aren’t “thousands of pages of additional transcripts” CNN needs to go through. The network — along with the rest of America — has the information it needs to make summary judgment in the matter.
At the very least, Cuomo should be suspended until CNN’s higher-ups can root through enough of the transcripts to come to the obvious conclusion that their host lied when he told viewers all he did was provide casual advice to his brother.
Spin this as one CNN may, there’s no amount of additional context in the transcripts that could make the declarative statement “I have a lead on the wedding girl being put up to it” fall under the aegis of mere fraternal support.
CNN executives have made their bed, but the network is being given a prime opportunity to hop out before they have to lie in it any longer. Instead, they’re “seeking additional clarity” regarding statements that speak for themselves.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.