Who is Chris Cuomo and why was he suspended from CNN for helping his brother Governor Andrew Cuomo?

It’s not the first time Chris Cuomo has been accused of breaking journalistic norms with his brother

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 01 December 2021 00:49
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Assembly report says Cuomo is a sex harasser who misused resources

CNN has indefinitely suspended anchor Chris Cuomo, the network announced on Tuesday, after newly released evidence revealed the multiple ways he tried to help his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, defend against sexual harassment allegations. T

he governor resigned in August after an independent investigation from the attorney general’s office found he sexually harassed at least 11 women.

Here’s what you need to know about the CNN star’s controversial role in his brother’s sexual harassment scandal.

Who is Chris Cuomo?

Along with his brother Andrew, Chris is the son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo. The CNN anchor is one of the network’s most visible journalists, having co-hosted the morning show “New Day,” before moving onto his own show, “Cuomo Prime Time”, launched in 2018. Prior to joining CNN, Mr Cuomo, a licensed attorney, reported for ABC News, “Good Morning America,” and Fox News. He is married to Cristina Greeven Cuomo, founder of the health and wellness brand PURIST.

During the pandemic, Mr Cuomo became one of the network’s most-watched figures, sometimes interviewing his brother on air, who was responding to one of the nation’s worst Covid outbreaks before he was facing to sexual harassment allegations.

Why was Chris Cuomo suspended?

CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter reported the suspension on Tuesday. The news comes a day after the New York Attorney General’s Office released investigative materials from the independent probe it oversaw into Andrew Cuomo, which included an interview with his brother.

“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,” the network told Mr Stelter, saying they revealed “a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew”.

CNN has suspended the anchor pending further evaluation.

It was previously known that Chris Cuomo had advised his brother during the growing scandal, including participating in conference calls with top aides and communications officials.

In May, the network said Chris Cuomo would not be involved in coverage of his brother’s sexual harassment scandal because he “could never be objective”, but declined any further punishment. (Andrew Cuomo has denied harassing anyone or making anyone uncomfortable intentionally.)

The new documents from the attorney general paint a picture of Chris Cuomo allegedly crossing even further past normal journalistic lines of objectivity in public affairs, reaching out to sources and other journalists to see if there were further accusers planning to step forward, as well as conducting research on various accusers.

According to the documents, he also texted a top governor’s aide that he “had a lead on the wedding girl”, a reference to Anna Ruch, who accused Andrew Cuomo of making uncomfortable when he kissed her at a wedding in 2019.

Charlotte Bennett, a former aide who accused Governor Cuomo of harassment tore into the Cuomos on Tuesday on Twitter for their response to the allegations, and called for CNN to fire the suspended anchor.

“Just like his older brother, Chris Cuomo used his time, network and resources to help smear victims, dig up opposition research, and belittle our credible allegations. His behavaiour is reprehensible, unprofessional and inexcusable.”

The Independent has reached out to Chris Cuomo for comment.

Have there been other controversies involving Chris and Andrew Cuomo?

In 2020, Chris Cuomo frequently interviewed his brother during the worst depths of the coronavirus crisis in New York, breaching normal rules about journalists interviewing family members.

The conversations often took on a bizarrely familial tone, with the two mocking each other and the governor once calling the anchor the “meatball” of the family.

Critics said the conversations were a flagrant violation of professional norms, with one Atlantic headline reading, “CNN Is Picking Ratings Over Ethics.”

In February, the network re-instituted a “rule” preventing Chris from interviewing Andrew Cuomo, following criticisms that the anchor failed to press his brother on issues like an alleged cover-up of deaths in nursing homes due to Covid.

“The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time. We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest,” the network told the New York Post at the time. “As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today.”

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