CNN anchor Chris Cuomo had advised his brother and New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations against him, reveals a report by the Washington Post. According to the report, the journalist had advised the governor and his senior staff members on how to deal with the allegations made by multiple women who had worked with the governor in the past. Following the exposure by the Post, CNN termed the act inappropriate, and the anchor apologised on his show.
As many as ten women have alleged that governor Andrew M. Cuomo had sexually harassed them. However, Cuomo has denied the allegations, saying that his comments and behaviours were misinterpreted by the women as harassment. He had apologised for making the women ‘feel uncomfortable’, but had denied the charges. Now it has been revealed that his brother had played a role in encouraging him to deny the charges. According to the Washington Post report, Chris Cuomo had joined several conference calls with the Democratic party governor, his top aides, communications team, lawyers and other advisors.
The calls took place earlier this year, when a growing number of women had come forward to allege that Andrew Cuomo had made inappropriate comments towards them, or had touched them without their permission. During the calls, the CNN star anchor had encouraged his brother to take a defiant position and not resign from the office. He had even advised the governor to state the “cancel culture” as one of the reasons for not relenting.
Although the governor’s office admitted that the governor’s brother did participate in the discussions, they said he was simply part of an informal effort to support the governor in light of the allegations. “There were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice,”a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo said.
Following the revelations, CNN released a statement, saying that the act of its anchor was “inappropriate”. A CNN spokesperson said that Cuomo’s participation in strategy sessions was improper, but he won’t face any disciplinary action. The spokesperson added that “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. 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,” the spokesperson added.
Chris Cuomo offered an apology for his conduct on his Thursday night show. “It will not happen again. It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot. I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I am sorry for that,” he said.
“When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisors that did include some of his staff — I understand why that was a problem for CNN,” the anchor added in his show. He further added that it will not happen again.
Following the revelations, demands have been made to the CNN to suspend the journalist. Saying that what the journalist did was deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable, the women’s group UltraViolet said that CNN should immediately suspend Chris Cuomo and conduct a thorough investigation into the matter.
“Make no mistake — this wasn’t just a brother talking to his brother about their lives, or even about politics. This was a major network news anchor advising the Governor of New York to actively push back against sexual harassment allegations and denigrate survivors of abuse by defining their calls for accountability as ‘cancel culture.’ The fact that after this advice, Governor Cuomo instructed surrogates to attack and defame those who courageously came forward with their stories should not be lost on anyone,” said Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet.
Todd added that this incident “raises serious questions about” how the CNN host covers sexual harassment allegations and how Cuomo’s “position at the network could potentially intimidate or silence other reporters who were looking into the story.” He demanded that “CNN should immediately suspend Chris Cuomo and conduct a thorough investigation into whether or not his position of authority at the network has impacted how others covered the allegations against his brother, Governor Cuomo.”
Andrew Cuomo is currently under investigation by state attorney general and the state Assembly on the allegations against him by the women. Additionally, he is also being probed by the Department of Justice for his role in knowingly undercounting the deaths of New York nursing home patients.