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“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately,” CNN said in a statement.
“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” the statement added. “Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.” CNN did not disclose details of what “additional information” prompted the decision.
On Saturday, The New York Times reported that an allegation of sexual misconduct had been made against Chris Cuomo. According to the Times, lawyer Debra S. Katz informed CNN on Wednesday about the claim from her client, a former junior colleague at another network; no details were provided.
Via spokesperson Steven Goldberg, in a statement also obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Cuomo denied the allegation. Goldberg said: “If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”
CNN’s rep told the Times that it already had cause to fire Cuomo and when the new allegations were raised, “We took them seriously and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”
Following news of his termination on Saturday, Cuomo posted a statement on Twitter.
“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I’ve already told you why and how I helped my brother,” he wrote. “So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and we’ll miss that group of special people who really did important work.”
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) December 4, 2021
On air, CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter addressed Cuomo’s exit. “I think this may be a situation where it was death by a thousand cuts, where there were just so many headaches time and time again involving Chris Cuomo. That even though many viewers loved watching Cuomo Primetime and looked forward to his show, he was causing so many headaches for the network and for CNN staffers that ultimately this decision was reached, that’s just drawing on my background and covering other stories like this.”
Cuomo had been at CNN since 2013, where he began co-hosting its morning show before moving to prime time in 2018 for his weeknight news analysis series. He was previously a co-anchor for 20/20 and the chief law and justice correspondent for ABC News. Between 2006 and 2009, he was an anchor for Good Morning America after getting his start in TV news as a correspondent and political analyst for the Fox News Channel.
The anchor was suspended on Nov. 30 after the New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and other documents that shed new light on Chris’s involvement with his brother’s defense, according to a statement CNN provided to THR last Tuesday.
THR previously reported that Chris Cuomo had not only participated in strategy sessions with his brother and his staff that helped the then-governor craft a response to the numerous allegations against him, but that the younger Cuomo also used his sources and contacts to dig up information about his brother’s accusers. He also gathered intel about stories coming through the pipeline by other journalists about the elder Cuomo.
The NYAG’s investigation into Cuomo’s conduct specifically found that the anchor had been gathering information on a story being developed by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker and had inquired about details around the timing of its publishing and whether Farrow uncovered any new accusers.
“I wasn’t going to call [Ronan Farrow]. I wasn’t going to try to influence any of the stories. And we know that that’s true because you would have read about it had I. It’s not exactly a loyalty-based business.,” Cuomo told investigators. “If I had tried to influence any of the reporting at CNN or anywhere else, I guarantee you, you people would know, and so would a lot of others. So the idea of one reporter calling another to find out about what’s coming down the pipe is completely business-as-usual.”
A deposition and thousands of unsealed documents tied to the NYAG’s investigation also revealed that Cuomo had asked one of his brother’s top aides, Melissa DeRosa, for assistance responding to allegations against the former governor. The anchor also leveraged his network of sources to acquire more information about a woman that accused the governor of inappropriate touching at a wedding.
According to his deposition with investigators, Cuomo told members of his brother’s team that “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” and that a friend of the bride’s family had given him information about the woman, Anna Ruch — information he shared with his brother’s staff.
In its statement following Cuomo’s November suspension, a rep for CNN told THR that the network was not privy to the new documents “before their public release” but that the contents of said documents had raised “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,” the CNN statement to THR concluded.
6:10 p.m.: Added quotes from CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter.
9:36 p.m.: Added detail from New York Times report that an allegation of sexual misconduct was made against Chris Cuomo.
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