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Jeff Zucker tells CNN staff Chris Cuomo will NOT be paid severance

CNN President Jeff Zucker reportedly told staffers during a virtual town hall on Tuesday that the network won’t pay severance to Chris Cuomo following his firing.  

Zucker, who has been the president of the network since 2013, said in hindsight he wishes he had fired the disgraced anchor, who was paid $6 million-a-year, sooner but that it was ‘easy to criticize CNN.’ 

‘Yes, in hindsight he may have taken action sooner but [the] result, [Zucker’s] comfortable with,’ a source told Fox News

A source told FOX there was ‘universal relief’ among CNN staff when Cuomo was finally dismissed.

‘That’s separate from liking Chris or not liking Chris – it’s people feeling that there was a right thing to do, and it was done,’ the insider said.  

During a question-and-answer session on Tuesday, Zucker said he reprimanded Cuomo in May and warned him against advising his brother.

Zucker reportedly said during the town hall that the network has not decided on a prime-time host replacement but options are being considered.  Jake Tapper is widely-considered the favorite for the flagship 9pm slot, although workers at the network are said to be pushing for a more diverse hire. 

Jeff Zucker, who has been the president of the network since 2012, said in hindsight he wishes he had fired the disgraced anchor sooner but that it was ‘easy to criticize CNN’

Zucker’s remarks come days after CNN fired Cuomo, 51, for advising his brother ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo in his sex pest scandal, crafting statements for him and using his journalistic sources to investigate some of his accusers. 

After the latest claims against Cuomo’s alleged meddling were shared by New York Attorney General Letitia James. That saw Cuomo suspended, with a former ABC colleague subsequently coming forward to accuse him of sexual misconduct.

That unidentified woman’s allegations, which haven’t been detailed, are said to have finally prompted his firing. 

‘Chris had gone further than he had told me and told other members of our senior executive team,’ another source told The Wall Street Journal Zucker, 56, had said. 

Chris Cuomo is now threatening to sue the network for $18million, which he says remains on his contract, claiming Zucker was well aware of his involvement in defending his brother. 

Chris Cuomo is now threatening to sue the network for $18million, which he says remains on his contract, claiming Zucker was well aware of his involvement in defending his brother

Chris Cuomo is now threatening to sue the network for $18million, which he says remains on his contract, claiming Zucker was well aware of his involvement in defending his brother

Cuomo claimed Zucker was completely clued in on his role in his brother’s strategy to fight the sexual harassment claims, and that he is not being hung out to dry.  

‘He has made a number of accusations that are patently false,’ the network said in a statement. ‘This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.’ 

Unnamed sources yesterday told The New York Post that the network has ‘no intention’ of paying Cuomo out of his settlement because they claim he violated the terms of his contract. 

CNN dragged its heels in disciplining Cuomo, despite a swell of public outcry, before eventually firing him on Saturday.   

Meanwhile, Cuomo is preparing to sue his former employer for $18 million left on his contract, claiming that CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about his involvement in his brother’s sex pest probe.

The network fired Cuomo on Saturday citing the journalist’s role in defending his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about his help with his brother’s defense against the sex claims, which the network called ‘patently false.’  

He has now hired lawyers and is preparing to file a suit against CNN if it does not honor the remainder of the four year contract he signed last year, under which he receives $6 million a year, according to the New York Post.

CNN announced on Saturday that it was firing Cuomo because after the true extent of his involvement in his brother's sex pest scandal strategy was revealed

CNN announced on Saturday that it was firing Cuomo because after the true extent of his involvement in his brother’s sex pest scandal strategy was revealed 

Chris Cuomo's book, Deep Denial, that was due to be published in just over a month, has been dropped by HarperCollins

Chris Cuomo’s book, Deep Denial, that was due to be published in just over a month, has been dropped by HarperCollins

But unnamed sources told the Post that the network has ‘no intention of paying Cuomo a penny,’ noting that ‘if he gets a settlement, there would be an uproar.’  

CNN disagreed with their former star’s characterization of events. 

A CNN insider on Monday also called Cuomo’s claims ‘absurd’ and ‘patently untrue,’ noting: ‘If Jeff had known all along, Chris would have been fired earlier, not suspended.’  

Cuomo’s book, Deep Denial, has also been dropped by publisher Harper Collins following his firing from CNN.  

The book was due to be published in January. It promised to ‘analyze the harsh truths’ that were exposed by ‘the pandemic and the Trump years’ and work out how America could fix itself.  Cuomo has also resigned from his Sirius XM radio show. 

Harper Collins confirmed on Tuesday that it would no longer be publishing the book, which was expected next year. It’s unclear if Cuomo was given an advance, or how much their deal together was worth.  

Cuomo, 51, had claimed on-air that he was not intrinsically involved in his brother Andrew’s scandal.   

Chris and Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo was forced out of the Governor's office by the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing

Chris and Andrew Cuomo. Andrew Cuomo was forced out of the Governor’s office by the scandal. He denies any wrongdoing

Cuomo was fired from his position on Saturday after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a trove of documents revealing that he had called his ‘sources’ about planned news reports regarding his brother as he tried to dig up dirt on at least one of the former governor’s accusers.

Lawyers from the firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore reportedly told CNN officials that the documents gave the network legal grounds to fire the Cuomo Prime Time Star.

But it appears likely that accusations that he sexually harassed a former co-worker at ABC was the final straw that led to his firing – a move which would appear to slightly ease the pressure on Zucker. 

The network was set to investigate an unspecified allegation dating back to Cuomo’s time at ABC before he was fired, the Post report.

His firing came just days after prominent attorney Debra S. Katz, a prominent attorney who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennet,  told CNN about a client with an allegation of sexual harassment against the younger Cuomo, according to the New York Times

The allegation is ‘unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter,’ Katz said in a statement.

Chris Cuomo’s spokesman has insisted: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’

But the former CNN star had also previously been accused of sexually harassing his female superior at ABC back in 2005.  

In an op-ed for the Times in September, producer Shelley Ross wrote that Cuomo walked up to her, hugged her and firmly grasped her buttocks as her husband sat behind her.

‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said, according to Ross.

Karen Agnifilo, a lawyer and former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, told Fox News that Cuomo is likely to use the same defense as his brother.

‘I think [Gov. Cuomo’s] brother should do the Cuomo playbook: “We hugged, we kissed, we’re affectionate. It’s how we were raised,'” Agnifilo said, adding that any case would have to proceed in public court.

‘CNN will have to turn over things like emails and employee files and other discovery-related documents. And then people will have to sit for depositions and interrogatories, and depending on what comes out in all that will depend on whether they had knowledge or didn’t have knowledge,’ Agnifilo said. 

‘All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out.’   


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