Poynter Institute Rebukes CNN’s Chris Cuomo for Advising Brother Governor on Damage Control

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
May 21, 2021 Updated: May 23, 2021

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies has published a harsh reprimand of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo Thursday for his taking part in strategy sessions advising his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid the fallout from the governor’s sexual misconduct allegations.

Poyter’s Tom Jones argued that Chris Cuomo was “deservedly under scrutiny for crossing a journalistic line” following revelations that he took part in advisory calls with Andrew Cuomo and some of his staff members, with Jones calling the situation “a conflict of interest that has been more than a year in the making.”

“Stop and think about what happened here,” Jones wrote. “The host of a primetime show on one of the country’s biggest and most influential cable news networks is advising one of the most powerful and influential politicians in this country on how to handle serious sexual misconduct allegations.”

Nine women, including both current and former aides, have in recent months accused Gov. Cuomo of sexual misconduct. He has denied the allegations, most recently during a rare in-person briefing with reporters in upstate New York in late April, where he insisted, “I didn’t do anything wrong.” His statement was a subtle shift from earlier remarks, where he admitted to saying things that may have made employees uncomfortable or been seen as “unwanted flirtation.”

New York
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a press conference in East Rockaway, N.Y., on April 22, 2021. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

In a segment on CNN on Thursday, Chris Cuomo apologized for advising his brother, admitting it “was a mistake” because it put his CNN colleagues “in a bad spot.”

At the same time, Chris Cuomo said that he took himself out of on-air coverage of the sexual harassment allegations against his brother and insisted that he never tried to influence CNN’s coverage of the matter.

“How I helped my brother also matters. When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisers, that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again. It was a mistake,” Chris Cuomo said.

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

His remarks came on the same day that a CNN spokesperson told multiple media outlets that Chris Cuomo engaging with conversations with his brother’s staff and advisers was “inappropriate” and wouldn’t happen again.

“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo—on air or behind the scenes,” a CNN spokesman told The Wall Street Journal. “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.”

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'