|Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, left, and former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo via AP, left, and Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)|
The character flaw that ended Chris Cuomo’s time at CNN is the same one that took down Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York.
That attribute? Arrogance, the entitled belief that the rules don’t necessarily apply to them, the misguided assumption that just because they do good in some parts of their jobs means they can be excused for ill-behavior in other parts.
Quite often, Chris Cuomo was very good at anchoring his prime-time cable news show. He certainly allowed his liberal views to ooze through in his commentary and coverage, but those who regularly watched his show likely shared those views and didn’t mind. Cuomo could be well-informed, engaging, charismatic, passionate and quick on his feet — all of the qualities that make a watchable TV host. That’s why his show had solid ratings.
But when multiple women accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, Chris believed he could abandon his journalistic ethics to defend his brother. The problem was Chris used his position as a powerful journalist to dig up information on what other journalists were working on when it came to reports about his brother. In addition, he misled viewers and his employers about how involved he was in helping his brother’s defense. And he offered media relations strategies against ugly allegations. All while continuing to hold one of the most important positions at one of the country’s leading media outlets.
If Chris wanted to help his brother, he should’ve taken a leave from the network and been totally transparent about why. But he could not serve both his employer and his brother. When you’re a journalist, you have an obligation to the viewer.
Instead, Chris allowed his arrogance to believe he could straddle the line of being a good journalist and good brother. Because of that arrogance, he believed there was nothing wrong with that. When called out for it, he was defiant and seemed irritated with anyone who criticized him, as if they didn’t understand words like “family” and “loyalty.” How dare you question me, seemed to be his stance. It’s the same arrogance that Andrew had in convincing himself that he did nothing wrong around women. He remained defiant about that even as he resigned.
It was arrogance that derailed both of their careers.
But, in the case of Chris, was there something else in addition to advising his brother?
The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum, John Koblin and Jodi Kantor are reporting that “Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo.” That client is believed to have worked with Cuomo at ABC.
As the Times reported, it’s not known if that allegation had anything to do with CNN’s dismissal of Cuomo over the weekend. Katz also represents one of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers. The Times reported, “Ms. Katz said that her client ‘came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.’”
It should be noted that part of CNN’s statement about Cuomo’s firing included this line: “When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”