Chris Cuomo Silent on Brother’s Sexual Harassment Scandal

CNN host advised Gov. Cuomo on how to handle sexual harassment allegations, testified in probe
By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
August 4, 2021 Updated: August 4, 2021

CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday completely ignored a scandal involving his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Chris Cuomo said nothing about how New York Attorney General Letitia James earlier in the day released a report substantiating sexual harassment and assault claims against the governor.

Chris Cuomo’s “Cuomo Prime Time” airs for an hour at 9 p.m.

Chris Cuomo was deeply involved in the scandal. Investigators found he was part of a team that advised Gov. Cuomo on how to respond earlier this year to a growing number of sexual harassment allegations.

Rich Azzopardi, one of Gov. Cuomo’s top advisers, described the group, none of whom were compensated, as “people who have been with us for a long time who we could trust.”

“When you feel like you’re in battle, you turn to those you trust,” he told investigators, who were appointed by James.

The inner circle’s outside group, who did not work for the Executive Chamber, was “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,” investigators said in their report.

According to internal documents obtained by the team, Chris Cuomo counseled his brother to express contrition after published reports detailed allegations from Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to the governor.

One email appeared to show Chris Cuomo helping draft a statement that Gov. Cuomo later issued about the allegations.

Investigators also revealed they had sat down with Chris Cuomo to ask him questions about the situation.

CNN didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Chris Cuomo apologized in May for helping advise his brother, after reports indicated at the time that he had.

“Today, there are stories out there about me offering my brother advice. Of course I do. This is no revelation. I have said it publicly and I certainly have never hidden it. I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family,” Chris Cuomo said.

“My family means everything to me and I am fiercely loyal to them. I am family first, job second,” he added.

Still, doing so “was a mistake” because it put his CNN colleagues “in a bad spot.”

Epoch Times Photo
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (L) and his brother Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor, at an event in New York City in 2018. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

At the time, a CNN spokesperson told news outlets that what Chris Cuomo did was “inappropriate.”

“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. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother,” a spokesperson said.

“However, 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 interviewed his brother on-air multiple times last year, often spending time joking during the COVID-19 crisis. Critics say Gov. Cuomo’s policies led to more deaths, while supporters say the governor did the best he could and that the policies prevented deaths.

Newspapers often include disclosures of such relationships, such as The Washington Post noting in any story involving Amazon that Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos owns the paper. But there’s been no such disclosures on CNN, so viewers have not been made aware of the full situation, Andrew Schotz, a member of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Ethics Committee, told The Epoch Times.

There remains a lack of clarity on whether Chris Cuomo broke any rules and, if he did, whether he was punished in any way. His show was never taken off the air.

“Nobody’s saying you can’t talk to your brother, period. That would be absurd—you’re a brother. In this case, the idea of you can’t talk to your brother about a scandal he’s involved with, that’s perfectly reasonable, because you need to separate. You can’t have your foot in both worlds,” Schotz said. ”

“I’m in the newsroom that’s covering it, even if I’m not on the story, but I have my foot in the news as it’s unfolding, I’m helping to make the news. Those things don’t go together and I just don’t see any evidence that he’s acknowledging that or that CNN is acknowledging that. If they have, they haven’t told anybody.”

Joe Concha, a media critic for The Hill, added on Twitter that Chris Cuomo’s silence on what happened showed how he is not a straight news host.

“Not sure CNN understands what this activist playing an anchor is doing to its credibility,” he wrote.

CNN declined to comment to its own media reporter on the situation.

After Chris Cuomo’s show on Tuesday, he handed things off to Don Lemon, another anchor for the network.

They expressed love for one another before Lemon fully took over. Lemon then immediately began covering the sexual harassment scandal.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.