Embattled anchor Chris Cuomo responded to his termination from CNN over his ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’, saying he was disappointed in the network’s action but remained proud of his team.
‘This is not how I want my time at CNN to end,’ Cuomo tweeted Saturday evening. ‘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.’
Cuomo said he owes his team and ‘will miss that group of special people who did really important work’ as he also fights off a historic sexual misconduct claim.
CNN announced Cuomo’s termination Saturday, stating it was ‘effective immediately’ and followed an investigation by an outside law firm into how exactly the star anchor aided his brother, Andrew Cuomo, then-governor of New York, try to fight off a sexual harassment scandal this year.
Embattled anchor Chris Cuomo has been ‘terminated’ by CNN ‘effective immediately,’ the network announced in a statement Saturday
Cuomo, 51, issued acknowledging his axing Saturday in a public statement expressing regret in his part of the scandal – but asserted that he was only helping his brother, who was forced to resign in August due to the allegations
‘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,’ the network said in a statement Saturday.
‘We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review and have terminated him.’
Though it was not referenced in CNN’s statement, an attorney told the New York Times that she had informed the network on Wednesday of her client’s allegation of prior sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo.
Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, said that the allegation against Chris Cuomo was made by a former junior colleague at another network, and was unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.’
Further details about the allegation are unclear, including which network Chris Cuomo was working at at the time of the alleged misconduct. Cuomo’s spokesman denied the claim, saying: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’
CNN’s statement cited only Cuomo’s ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’ in its decision to terminate the anchor.
‘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,’ the network said in the statement.
After amassing a trove of texts and documents pointing to a serious breach of network standards by the journalist, CNN notified Cuomo of his termination Saturday, the network’s statement revealed.
In an announcement released Saturday afternoon, the network revealed that more information had come to light during its internal investigation into the anchor – which is still ongoing
Cuomo, 51, acknowledged his axing Saturday, expressing regret for his part of the scandal – but still asserting that he was only helping his brother, who was forced to resign in August to avoid impeachment over the allegations.
Cuomo joined CNN as a field anchor in February 2013 following stints at ABC and Fox News. After rising through the ranks, he was tapped in March 2018 to host Cuomo Prime Time.
According to some estimates, Cuomo had an annual salary of $6million.
His 9pm show, Cuomo Prime Time, was CNN’s highest rated broadcast. It drew an average of 774,000 viewers during November, when it ranked No. 25 among all cable TV news programs – right behind Anderson Cooper’s show.
However, the network saw a 19 percent bump after Cuomo was suspended Tuesday and Cooper filled in. The network has not indicated who will be his permanent replacement.
Cuomo’s shocking downfall came less than a week after the New York Attorney General’s Office released transcripts and exhibits on Monday, showing that the TV host had played a more intimate role in his older brother’s political affairs than initially thought by the network and the public.
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation uncovered a never-before-seen trove of texts from Cuomo to his brother’s advisers briefing them on how to deal with sex pest allegations.
The incriminating texts revealed that Cuomo had far more extensive input in his brother’s political machinations than he admitted – and showed that the anchor was essentially working as an unpaid aide to older brother Andrew.
In a statement announcing Cuomo’s suspension Tuesday, CNN said the Attorney General’s newly released findings ‘shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense.’
‘The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,’ the statement read.
‘When Chris admitted to us 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.’
The text messages and transcripts released by James’ office reveal the unethical nature of Cuomo’s relationships with several of his brother’s aides and allies, shining light on how the anchor used his position and media connections to help prepare his brother and his political team as accusers started to make their stories public.
The documents also showed that the anchor helped his brother’s office craft official statements in response to the accusers’ allegations.
When the documents were released Monday, CNN brass announced in a statement that the ‘thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits’ would be reviewed ‘over the next several days.’
One day later, they announced the anchor’s suspension.
CNN host Chris Cuomo (right) has admitted that he helped strategize brother Andrew Cuomo’s (left) response to a sexual harassment scandal that forced the then governor of New York to resign earlier this year
The Attorney General’s office previously discerned that Andrew Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed at least 11 women, spurring the politician to resign from his post in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial.
On the day his brother resigned, August 24, Cuomo told viewers of his popular primetime program, Cuomo Prime Time, that the scandal and ensuing situation was ‘unlike anything I could have imagined.’
On the air, Cuomo attested that he never reported on the sexual harassment scandal or tried to interfere in CNN’s coverage of the story.
Instead, the anchor asserted that he had ‘tried to be there for my brother’ – and nothing more.
‘I’m not an adviser. I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and offer my take,’ he said at the time.
According to testimony given by Cuomo to James’ office, the last time the anchor spoke to his elder brother about the charges was to figure out what was going to happen and what he would tell their 90-year-old mother.
Cuomo has insisted he has done nothing to try and influence CNN’s coverage of his brother’s political problems, and that it would be quickly found out if he did.
Throughout his testimony, Chris frequently invoked family when asked to explain his frequent contact – often combative – with Andrew’s aides as they tried to figure out a way to save the governor’s job.
At the request of his Andrew Cuomo’s (pictured) aides, Cuomo also used his contacts to find out what other journalists were going to report
‘This is my brother, and I’m trying to help my brother through a situation where he has told me he did nothing wrong,’ Chris testified. ‘And that’s it for me. How do I help protect my family? How do I protect him? Probably should have been thinking more about how I protect myself, which just never occurred to me.’
At the request of his brother’s aides, Cuomo also used his contacts to find out what other journalists were going to report, most notably the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. Cuomo argued ‘the idea of one reporter calling another to find out what’s coming down the pipe is completely business as usual.’
Cuomo testified that he didn’t tell anyone at CNN that he was contacting other journalists to find out about the Farrow piece.
On March 1, Chris said on air that he was aware of the accusations about his brother, after a third woman came forward to accuse him.
But he said he could not report on it.
‘Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother,’ he said.
The text messages and transcripts released by the James’ office reveal the unethical nature of Cuomo’s relationships with several of his brother’s aides and allies, shining light on how the anchor used his position and media connections to help prepare his brother and his political team as accusers started to make their stories public
‘And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.’
He then moved on, having thanked his audience ‘for being straight with me, and I’ve always been straight with you’.
He said he ‘always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so.’
Several weeks of extremely uncomfortable handovers then ensued, as Chris refused to discuss the news – which at the time was a big story – while his co-hosts before and after discussed it extensively.
When it was first reported by The Washington Post last May that Cuomo had strategized with his brother’s aides, CNN said that it was inappropriate but did not discipline him.
‘When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,’ a CNN spokesperson said on Tuesday. ‘But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.’