CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his brother, New York Governor Andrew, have been scolded for using the network’s resources to strategize about his sex harassment cases – but insiders fear they’re stuck with the pair’s odious antics.
The Cuomos apparently had the full run of CNN’s remote capabilities, giving Andrew some extra legal strategy from his brother (who was a lawyer before joining CNN) and offering Chris access to the governor’s top aides, according to several people familiar with the talks.
The conferences included not only both Cuomos, but Andrew’s top aide and communications team, lawyers, and a bevy of outside advisers, according to people who came forward to the Washington Post to speak on their content. Chris’ co-workers were apparently deeply upset in having their workplace coopted by a political figure – and one under investigation for sexual harassment, at that – and women’s group UltraViolet ultimately came forward to denounce the incestuous situation.
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UltraViolet demanded CNN kick the younger Cuomo to the curb immediately and launch an investigation into the anchor’s activities on behalf of his brother at CNN.
“Anything less is unacceptable, and further harms survivors of sexual abuse, who are already disinclined to come forward for fear of retaliation from men in power like the Cuomo brothers,” the group’s director declared in a statement. While the network refused to put Cuomo on ice indefinitely, they promised “he will not participate in such conversations going forward,” stopping short of any sort of discipline beyond the archetypal wrist-slap.
However, the network did make a point of standing up for their reporter, arguing “Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo – on air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective,” CNN said in a statement. “But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
It’s not clear at what point that statement was made, given that the conference calls certainly constituted “extensive coverage of the allegations…behind the scenes.” Cuomo himself admitted he was “family first, job second” – even while declaring his decision to betray CNN’s “ethics” on behalf of his brother “would never happen again.”
While it wasn’t exactly clear how CNN had ensured it would never happen again, Cuomo did hint he had been “walled off” from the network’s coverage of his brother – who, as governor, has tentacles reaching into every story related to New York state.
The pair took full advantage of the resources at their disposal, discussing “political strategy” over multiple calls during which Cuomo cooked up a strategy for his brother invoking “cancel culture” – a mob-based deplatforming action typically associated with so-called social justice warriors on the left – and the need to remain “defiant.”
While CNN eventually figured out the events were “inappropriate,” Cuomo continued to invoke cancel culture while trying to invalidate the experiences of the half-dozen women who have came forward so far to point the finger at the governor as a sex predator. However, the Daily Beast pointed at the younger Cuomo’s continued employment at CNN as proof cancel culture “doesn’t exist.” Both seem to have overlooked the usual political bent of its victims, who are usually quite a bit further to the right.
According to the Daily Beast, some of Cuomo’s on-air co-workers themselves have wondered about the long-term utility of ‘Fredo,’ the Godfather-derived nickname known to cause the younger Cuomo to threaten to send strangers flying headfirst down a flight of stairs. “Fredo,” Cuomo complained, was like “the n-word for Italians” – a phrase he may have been the first on earth to utter.
“We should have learned from a business perspective that all of these people are replaceable,” the female anchor argued, suggesting the network is now tarnished by the precedent it set for harassment victims, describing them as cancel-culture pitchfork-wielders instead of individuals with a valid case against a man who appears to be on the station’s “side.”
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This was bad enough for Andrew Cuomo, but worse for the offices of CNN, argued many who worked there. Indeed, the closeness between the governor and his younger brother was becoming a liability, one anchor suggested. Another current anchor complained to the Daily Beast on Monday that “Chris has for a long time considered himself an ad-hoc consultant to his brother,” and that this problem hardly came out of nowhere.
Many of the channel’s own employees were none too pleased about the fallout, believing it was something that couldn’t happen at their network. Media reporter Oliver Darcy claimed the channel’s actions “vexed staffers inside CNN” – both interns concerned by Cuomo’s behavior and the “violation of traditional journalistic standards.”
Another pointed out that it didn’t even matter what the Cuomos talked about – the optics of brother interviewing brother were just bad.
The Cuomos enjoy a higher level of authority at CNN HQ, one employee told the Daily Beast with frustration, noting that “last year when he was interviewing his brother and they were yukking it up, CNN loved it.” Now, it was too late to stop. “They never should have let that happen. It was a complete letdown of journalistic ethics then.”
It’s very Fox News-like behavior.
Given the network’s subsequent moves forbidding Chris Cuomo from interviewing or covering his brother, that unorthodox relationship would appear to run both ways. Cuomo was elected governor in 2011, and while the no-inter-Cuomo-coverage rule was adopted in 2013, it soon dissolved when the pandemic began. Not only did their sitcom-like banter help viewers relax, it helped humanize the pair (in the form of larger-than-life characters like “the government” and “the media”) at a time when both were in desperate need of humanization. Unfortunately, that period didn’t last long.
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