UPDATE, 6 13 PM PT: CNN host Chris Cuomo opened his show on Thursday by apologizing after a revelation that he participated in conference calls with his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to give advice on responding to sexual harassment allegations.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Cuomo also reiterated that he was not covering his brother’s troubles, in which the New York governor has been accused by at least a half dozen women of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.
“Not only do I not cover this here, I never have tried to influence this network’s coverage of my brother,” Chris Cuomo said.
The Washington Post , citing unnamed sources, reported that Chris Cuomo advised his brother to take a defiant position and remain in office. Cuomo did not address what advice he gave, but explained to viewers that he was “fiercely loyal” to his family, and that for him it was “family first, job second.”
He called the situation “unique and difficult.” “I know where the line is. I can respect it, and still be there for my family, which I must. I have to do that. I love my brother. I love my family. I love my job. And I love and respect my colleagues here at CNN.”
PREVIOUSLY: CNN host Chris Cuomo participated in strategy conference calls with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the governor faced allegations of sexual harassment, with the sessions including members of the governor’s staff.
The Washington Post first reported on the calls, and CNN confirmed that Cuomo had participated.
A network spokesperson said, “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.”
Cuomo will not face disciplinary action, according to a network source.
According to the Post, quoting unnamed sources, Cuomo recommended that his brother take a defiant position and remain in office, and even used the phrase “cancel culture” as one rationale to try to weather the allegations.
The New York attorney general is conducting an investigation of the claims from more than a half dozen women. The New York State Assembly also is conducting an investigation. Cuomo has denied the claims, and has said that his comments may have been misinterpreted. At a March 12 press briefing, he also talked of not “bowing to cancel culture.”
After the allegations became public against the governor, with calls for his resignation, Chris Cuomo said on his show that he would not be covering the story on his show, Cuomo Prime Time.
“Obviously, I am aware of what is going on with my brother, and obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother,” he told viewers “Now of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so. I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just want to tell you that. There’s a lot of news that goes on also, so let’s get after that.”
Last spring, Cuomo had his brother on Cuomo Prime Time as a guest, breaking with a network policy that he not interview the New York governor because of the obvious conflict of interest. The network said that they made an exception to the rule, saying that they felt that “Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest.” Chris Cuomo tested positive for Covid-19 and shared his experiences on air.
Although the Cuomo brothers segments drew criticism and some consternation in journalism circles, the network’s chief Jeff Zucker, in an interview with The New York Times, defended the brothers’ “authenticity and relatability and vulnerability.”
CNN defended Chris Cuomo in March after a report that the New York governor had secured access to testing for family members during the early part of the pandemic. A network spokesperson said, “We generally do not get involved in the medical decisions of our employees. However, it is not surprising that in the earliest days of a once-in-a-century global pandemic, when Chris was showing symptoms and was concerned about possible spread, he turned to anyone he could for advice and assistance, as any human being would.” The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that federal investigators are examining whether the governor gave priority access to close associates and his brother, expanding its probe of how Andrew Cuomo’s administration handled Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes.