Star anchor Chris Cuomo has been terminated by the network, effective immediately. The anchor was suspended on Tuesday amid an investigation as to how he aided his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, evade accusations of sexual harassment.
After the suspension, text messages were revealed by the New York attorney general, showing Cuomo’s deep involvement in his brother’s political affairs than the network had originally known.
CNN said in a statement, “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately.”
Following the termination, Chris Cuomo posted a statement on Saturday, “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. 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. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work.”
After the announcement made by CNN, Debra S. Katz, an employment lawyer, disclosed to CNN a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct by Chris Cuomo. Katz said in a statement, that the allegation made by a former junior colleague is unrelated to Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s affairs. Katz is also the lawyer for Charlotte Bennett, a one-time aide for Andrew Cuomo, who accused him of sexual harassment in February. It is unclear as to what kind of role this accusation played in Cuomo’s dismissal. However, a spokesperson for Cuomo, Steven Goldberg, said in a statement that these “anonymous” allegations are “not true”. The spokesperson also stated the former anchor “fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way. If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”
Chris Cuomo worked with CNN for 8 years and began co-hosting morning shows before moving to prime time in 2018. Previously, he was co-anchor for 20/20 and chief law and justice correspondent for ABC news. He was an anchor in Good Morning America from 2006 to 2009 after starting as a political analyst and correspondent for Fox News Channel.
Although Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s affairs was reported several months ago, the details were revealed on Monday. The documents were released by New York Attorney General Letitia James after investigation, revealing CNN’s anchor working as an unpaid aide to the former governor. The text messages revealed the insides, showing several exchanges between the anchor and several allies of the former governor. It also showed how Chris Cuomo used his connections to find information about his brother’s accuser. He also participated in strategy sessions with the allies to draft a response to the numerous allegations against his brother.
CNN management showed support for Cuomo and his prime time, with CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, being one of the prime supporters. Zucker, who at one time said that the anchor was facing “very unique circumstances” wrote in a memo to the CNN staff, “It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved.”
As Andrew Cuomo faced increased sexual harassment allegations, the anchor strategized with the governor’s aides and withdrew himself from reporting on the news. After Andrew Cuomo resigned, the anchor defended himself on August 16th saying, “I’m not an adviser, I’m a brother. I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
After the documents were revealed on Monday, CNN said in a statement on Tuesday, “When Chris admitted to us that 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, 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.”