News broke Monday that one of its biggest stars, prime-time anchor Chris Cuomo, had a greater-than-originally-thought role in helping his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, mount a public relations defense against multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Those allegations, in fact, led to Andrew resigning in August.
And on Tuesday evening, the other Cuomo was punished. CNN has suspended Chris indefinitely. (Anderson Cooper hosted Cuomo’s normal 9 p.m. Eastern slot.)
In a statement, the network said, “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. 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. 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. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
Up until Monday. Chris had acknowledged publicly that he was a sounding board for his brother and that he lent some advice to Andrew’s advisers. But, turns out, he did much more than that. On Monday, The New York attorney general’s office released thousands of pages of documents, which included details of Chris’ role. It included Chris pushing to be a part of strategy sessions, working “sources” to see the status of what other news outlets were working on and even attempting to find information about one of his brother’s accusers. (I wrote about more details on Monday.)
Despite all this information becoming public, Chris hosted his prime-time show Monday night while CNN said it would give the attorney general’s documents a “thorough review and consideration.”
Throughout Monday evening and into Tuesday, many in the media asked if Chris should be allowed on the air or even if he should keep his job.
Washington Post national political reporter David Weigel tweeted, “If some news channel intern did what Chris Cuomo did they’d have been fired one second after these docs were published.”
Gene Park, who covers video games and gaming culture for The Washington Post, tweeted, “Chris Cuomo still working at CNN is a mockery of journalism. Libs defending him say there are more important things to worry about, and then complain about why media coverage is so poor and lopsided.
The Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce tweeted, “This is an embarrassment to journalism.”
Erin B. Logan of the Los Angeles Times tweeted, “amazing that Chris Cuomo still has a cushy job at CNN after flagrantly violating journalistic ethics”
And, of course, Keith Olberman wasn’t going to let this one go by. He tweeted, “And now he has to be fired.”
There were even calls coming from inside CNN’s own house. The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright, Justin Baragona and Andrew Kirell wrote, “The people with knowledge of the situation said CNN boss Jeff Zucker had felt serious heat from infuriated talent, including Jake Tapper, over the last 24 hours and acted to yank Cuomo off the air while the review is carried out.”
So, will Chris Cuomo be fired? That’s what CNN will determine in the coming days. I believe keeping Cuomo puts a serious dent in CNN’s credibility, particularly because Cuomo didn’t come completely clean when he had the chance earlier this year. It came a day late, but at least CNN realized it couldn’t just let Cuomo keep going on the air while it sorted through the details.