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CNN says it will be reviewing primetime anchor Chris Cuomo’s deposition with the New York Attorney General’s office, as well as documents that were unsealed as part of its investigation.
The deposition and documents showed that the CNN anchor played an active role in helping his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, navigate accusations of sexual harassment.
“The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration,” a CNN spokesperson says. “We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
The new information shows that Cuomo asked one of the governor’s top aides, Melissa DeRosa, to help respond to some of the allegations. In other cases, the CNN anchor leveraged his network of journalist sources to find information about a woman who’d accused the governor of inappropriate touching at a wedding, as well as details about a story Ronan Farrow was writing about the politician for The New Yorker.
CNN and Cuomo acknowledged that the anchor played a role in responding to the harassment claims in May, with the channel calling the decision “inappropriate.”
“I am family first, job second,” Cuomo said on his show that evening in May. “It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot. I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I’m sorry for that.”
The deposition and supporting documentation shows that the CNN anchor played an active role in helping his brother and his brother’s team gather information about stories that were in the works.
“I would — when asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out,” Cuomo told the investigators. “I was frequently in contact when we would hear word that there were other people coming out. Or there was more to be learned about somebody, I would talk to other journalists to hear what they had heard.”
At one point, after a report that the governor inappropriately touched a woman at a wedding, Cuomo shared with members of his brother’s team that “I have a lead on the wedding girl.” He told investigators that a friend of the bride’s family gave him information about the woman, Anna Ruch, and he shared that information with his brother’s staff. The CNN anchor also gave investigators the name and contact information for his source.
Cuomo also sought out information about a piece Ronan Farrow was working on for The New Yorker, telling investigators that his brother’s staff were “very concerned about it … when Ronan Farrow writes something, people in the media are going to talk about it.”
The CNN anchor sometimes spoke of Farrow in a positive light, noting that he had appeared on his program in the past. He tried to gather information about the piece, and about when it would be published, and shared his findings with DeRosa.
“I called a fellow journalist who works with Ronan a lot. And I didn’t want to contact Ronan directly. I know him. He’s — he’s been good to me. He’s been on my show. But I didn’t want to — I didn’t want to push up on him like that. It’s not right,” Cuomo told the investigators.
“The concern was that Ronan always has more people. You know, I mean, that’s part of his currency as a journalist, is that people come to him to expand understandings. I know he has his critics. But, to me, that’s when he’s at his best,” Cuomo added. “So the assumption was he must have new people if he’s waiting so long to have written about this. And then he didn’t. So, what the context is specifically is: I had heard that all he was writing — the only person he was writing about was Lindsey Boylan.”
The deposition reveals that Cuomo also spoke regularly with his brother and his brother’s staff about his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, a time in which the governor would regularly appear on the CNN anchor’s show to discuss the pandemic. He was also involved in drafting a number of statements from the governor in response to some of the allegations.
That being said, the CNN anchor also told the investigators that he was not involved in trying to influence any of the reporting about his brother, at CNN or elsewhere, and limited his role to trying to garner information about what others were working on.
“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 said. “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.”
“CNN was always going to cover it,” he added. “They had always covered my brother for better or worse.”
Cuomo, on his CNN program in August, told viewers that he ultimately “urged my brother to resign, when the time came.”
Perhaps the strangest part of the deposition involves Alec Baldwin. The actor, who is now in headlines for the tragic shooting on the set of the movie Rust, apparently spoke out against “cancel culture” in part because of the accusations against the governor.
“I know Alec Baldwin. So does Andrew,” the CNN anchor told investigators. “I have a very good friend who is named here, who called me, said, ‘Alec wants to talk about cancel culture or political correctness.’ I asked him not to. I said, ‘Tell him to stay out of it. It’s not necessary.’ He said, ‘Well, he’s going to do it. And I think it’s a good idea for him to do it.'”
“I wasn’t in favor of it happening because I didn’t think that Alec Baldwin weighing in on this one way or the other was necessarily helpful or respectful to the situation,” he added. “And I was trying to help my brother, and it just didn’t seem that helpful to me.”
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