An anonymous sexual misconduct allegation against Chris Cuomo may have played a role in CNN’s decision to fire him, a new report says.
The network terminated Mr Cuomo on Saturday, saying it had uncovered “new information” about his efforts to help his brother, former governor Andrew Cuomo, fend off accusations of sexual harassment – efforts that CNN considered a violation of journalistic ethics.
But without going into detail, the network also alluded to another matter.
“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” CNN said. “Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
According to a report by The New York Times, that secondary issue may be an accusation against Chris Cuomo himself. Three days before Mr Cuomo was fired, the Times says, a lawyer named Debra Katz told CNN she represented a former colleague of his at another network. That client, Ms Katz told the Times, is accusing Mr Cuomo of sexual misconduct “unrelated to the Gov Andrew Cuomo matter.”
Chris Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing, both in the matter involving his brother and with regard to the mysterious new accusation.
“These apparently anonymous allegations are not true,” Steven Goldman, a spokesman for the anchor, said in a statement. “If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”
Mr Cuomo had been CNN’s top-rated host, with a show in the highly contested 9pm hour. In a statement after his termination, the journalist thanked his team for that success.
“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother,” he tweeted. “So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot.”
CNN has still not offered any details on the secondary issue it mentioned, but acknowledged on Saturday that it came to light this week and was separate from the Andrew Cuomo issue.
“Based on the report we received regarding Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense, we had cause to terminate,” the network told The New York Times. “When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”
The Independent has reached out to Mr Cuomo for comment.
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