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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo did not address the investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James into his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, during his primetime cable news program Tuesday. Cuomo instead opened the show by saying “we’re focused on COVID here,” leading into segments about the pandemic.
While the news was not entirely surprising (CNN says it has a policy forbidding him from covering his brother over the obvious conflict of interest), it was a notable choice, as the CNN anchor himself was cited in James’ report, and that he has addressed his role advising his brother previously.
That being said, viewers of Cuomo’s show Tuesday weren’t entirely left in the dark. CNN’s news ticker, which was on-air for the entire program, detailed the findings from James’ investigation. And just seconds after Cuomo and fellow CNN host Don Lemon ended their daily “handoff” at 10 PM, Lemon opened his show with a segment about the investigation into Gov. Cuomo, and the calls for him to resign.
The AG report confirmed that the CNN host participated in strategy discussions with members of the Governor’s staff, as well as outside advisors, adding that Chris Cuomo “counseled him to express contrition” after an executive assistant publicly accused the Governor of harassment.
The CNN host testified for the investigation, telling the investigators that “there was discussion about remedial measures the Chamber should take in light of the sexual harassment allegations, but some people had taken the position that ‘they should just wait.’”
According to an appendix in the AG’s report that included emails from Chris Cuomo, it appears the CNN host helped craft Gov. Cuomo’s February 28 statement responding to harassment claims by the former executive assistant. The statement would receive significant media coverage, including on CNN.
The report also said that Governor Cuomo’s team of outside advisors “were regularly provided with confidential and often privileged information about state operations and helped make decisions that impacted State business and employees—all without any formal role, duty, or obligation to the State.”
CNN suggested that it will take no new action after the investigation was released. When asked for comment regarding the details in the report from James, a CNN spokesperson referred THR to previous statements made by the channel and by Cuomo.
In May, it was revealed that Chris Cuomo had served as an informal strategic advisor to the Governor, helping him respond to some of the harassment allegations. CNN responded in a statement at the time saying that “it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
Chris Cuomo himself also responded to the news on his primetime show, saying “I am family first, job second.”
“It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” he added. “I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I’m sorry for that.”
Cuomo joined CNN in 2013 to anchor its morning show, New Day. He would move to primetime in 2018, taking a more aggressive and combative style in his interviews, and even engaging in heated banter with his colleague, CNN host Don Lemon.
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