CNN suspends Chris Cuomo over role in advising governor brother
‘Special Report’ All-Star panel reacts to the network taking action against one of its most notable anchors.
MSNBC was noticeably quiet on CNN’s stunning suspension of its star anchor Chris Cuomo for several hours after it was announced.
CNN released a statement Tuesday evening that the “Cuomo Prime Time” host was being benched “indefinitely” amid damning revelations from the New York Attorney General’s office that showed Cuomo was far more involved in aiding his embattled brother, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during his sexual harassment scandal than previously known.
However, while the suspension sent shockwaves across the media landscape during the 6 pm ET timeslot, MSNBC host Ari Melber ignored the breaking news.
MSNBC stars Joy Reid, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, who rivals Cuomo in the same 9 pm ET timeslot, Lawrence O’Donnell and Brian Williams all similarly avoided the subject.
Fox News’ “Special Report” as well as “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s “World News Tonight” and “CBS Evening News” all squeezed in the news about CNN in their broadcasts as it emerged.
CNN delayed addressing the suspension until the end of the 8 pm ET hour with Anderson Cooper informing viewers about Cuomo’s absence and also taking over Cuomo’s 9 pm ET timeslot.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo was one of several unpaid, trusted outside figures consulted by Gov. Cuomo and his Executive Chamber staff to grapple with the numerous sexual harassment allegations against him this year. (Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
MSNBC previously offered minimal coverage of the scandal plaguing its closest liberal network rival, completely ignoring the document dump on Monday and running brief on-air reports on the Cuomo scandal early Tuesday morning, leading with Gov. Cuomo’s on-camera testimony.
Both “Way Too Early” host Jonathan Lemire and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski read the same report word-for-word from the teleprompter while their colleague Stephanie Ruhle similarly addressed the controversy without providing any commentary.
The Peacock network previously ignored the sexual harassment allegation the CNN anchor himself faced after veteran TV producer Shelley Ross came forward claiming Cuomo sexually harassed her. MSNBC also avoided the awkward return of CNN’s chief legal analyst and Zoom masturbation star Jeffrey Toobin.
CNN, in return, almost never covers MSNBC’s controversies and the outlandish commentary. More recently, CNN harped on Nicki Minaj’s tweets expressing vaccine hesitancy but managed to avoid mentioning the viral spat the rapper superstar had with MSNBC host Joy Reid.
CNN announced it was pulling Cuomo amid growing calls for his firing over his involvement in his brother’s scandals.
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” CNN began its statement Tuesday evening. “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us 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,” CNN continued, “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.”
Transcripts from his interview with investigators show the CNN star admitting he would reach out to media sources to find out about new accusers who have yet to come forward publicly.
“When asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out,” Cuomo told investigators.
Cuomo’s admission contradicts what he told CNN viewers in August when he claimed, “I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
UltraViolet, a leading national gender-justice organization, called for CNN to immediately fire Chris Cuomo.
Three days after the New York Times broke the story about Anna Ruch, who alleged the governor sexually harassed her at a 2019 wedding reception, the CNN anchor texted top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, “I have a lead on the wedding girl.”
In another exchange, DeRosa texted to Cuomo, “Rumor going around from politico 1-2 more ppl coming out tomorrow,” then asking him “Can u check your sources?”
Cuomo replied “on it,” later writing back “No one has heard that yet.”
The CNN anchor snooped into the progress of Ronan Farrow’s reporting about his brother and relayed it to the governor’s inner circle.
He admitted to contacting colleagues of Farrow for updates but claimed it was simply “business-as-usual” to employ such methods. Text messages released by state investigators showed DeRosa asking about “intel the CNN anchor had about Farrow’s report on March 15, to which he replied it wasn’t ready for publication. Farrow’s story was eventually published on March 18.
Additionally, the transcript from investigators’ interview with Democratic strategist and Andrew Cuomo ally Lis Smith showed Chris Cuomo had forwarded her documents regarding the governor’s second accuser Charlotte Bennett and her “time in college.”
CNN’s Chris Cuomo performed prop comedy with his brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a widely panned segment in 2020.
Bennett called for CNN to terminate the anchor, saying “Anything short of firing Chris Cuomo reflects a network lacking both morals and a backbone.”
Shelley Ross, Chris Cuomo’s accuser, blasted CNN’s suspension announcement as “meaningless” and predicted his return on-air.
“There is more to accountability than a suspension,” Ross told Fox News. “Chris Cuomo has always maintained he was not an adviser, he was a brother. He lied to CNN and his viewers. He needs to publicly acknowledge his wrongdoing to women, to victims of sexual harassment, assault and gender bias, to his colleagues, to the other journalists he compromised or tried to, and to the viewers he misled.”
Ross went public in September penning a guest essay in the New York Times alleging that Cuomo squeezed her buttock at a work function in 2005 while the two of them were colleagues at ABC News. She shared the email he had sent to her apologizing for the incident.
She knocked CNN over its statement announcing it was “indefinitely” suspending Cuomo, calling it a “meaningless word” to the network.
“When he’s invited back, he still should be assigned a series on sexual harassment and ethics in the workplace,” Ross said.
Fox News asked Ross if her comments meant she did not expect Cuomo to be fired as a result, to which she replied, “No, given CNN’s great depth of forgiveness of sex offenses.”
Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.
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