CNN President Jeff Zucker says Chris Cuomo didn’t merit a suspension
CNN President Jeff Zucker said Tuesday that he ordered host Chris Cuomo to apologize on-air for joining strategy session calls with staffers for his brother, the governor of New York, but said that a suspension was not merited.
Responding to growing anger among CNN staffers over the network’s handling of the imbroglio, Zucker held a town hall meeting on Tuesday afternoon saying he understood staffers’ ‘unease’, according to the Daily Beast.
‘He did cross a line,’ Zucker said of Chris Cuomo’s participation in the strategy calls, in which he reportedly urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to be ‘defiant’ in the face of sexual harassment and misconduct claims from numerous women.
Zucker said he personally spoke to Chris Cuomo to express his displeasure, and ordered the on-air apology that the host delivered on Friday, but decided not to suspend him over the matter, people at the meeting told the outlet.
CNN host Chris Cuomo said he is ‘truly sorry’ and admits he crossed the line taking part in strategy calls advising his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo through his sex-pest scandal
CNN has been accused of hypocrisy for failing to take action against Chris Cuomo, right, who admitted taking part in strategy calls to help his brother Andrew, left, deal with the fallout from his sexual harassment scandal
CNN admitted in a statement last week that ‘it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.’
In his on-air apology, Chris Cuomo said he had been ‘looped into calls with other friends of his and advisers that did include some of his staff’ and added ‘it will not happen again. It was a mistake.’
But the controversy has infuriated many at CNN, who are angry at Chris Cuomo for seeming to minimize the complaints against his brother, and for damaging their image of impartiality.
‘I’m very disappointed in the network,’ a woman who works on-air at CNN told The Daily Beast. ‘I think some disciplinary action, at a minimum, was required in this situation.’
The woman said that Chris Cuomo ‘was always put in an untenable position,’ given his job, but ultimately, she said, ‘I don’t think there were enough guardrails’ to prevent this sort of scandal.
‘As a woman who works here, I feel a little let down, to be honest,’ she said.
‘Chris Cuomo’s concern for his brother is admirable but working to discredit the multiple women who have accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual impropriety is both journalistically and morally immoral,’ another regular on-air guest told the outlet.
The governor made numerous appearances on his own brother’s show last year, for lighthearted interviews that featured brotherly banter
At Tuesday’s meeting, Zucker also addressed the recent firing of paid commentator Rick Santorum, the Republican former senator who was let go after comments on the founding of the U.S. that outraged some Native Americans who saw them as insensitive.
‘He was an important voice for the past five years,’ Zucker said. ‘But his recent comments were inappropriate and racist.’
Santorum made the controversial remarks last month, but word of his firing was not leaked until the weekend, leading some to speculate that CNN was trying to distract from its issue with the Cuomo brothers.
‘We birthed a nation from nothing. I mean, there was nothing here,’ Santorum told a conservative youth group on April 23. ‘I mean, yes, we have Native Americans, but candidly, there isn’t much Native American culture in American culture.’
Santorum on Monday said that he ‘misspoke’ but defended the intent of his remarks, saying that he was referring to Native Americans having a minimal role in the founding of the United States government and blaming ‘cancel culture’ at CNN for his firing.
‘You get savaged for telling the truth,’ Santorum told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview on Monday.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Zucker also addressed the recent firing of paid commentator Rick Santorum (above), the Republican former senator
‘What I said was not at all disparaging towards Native Americans: What I was talking about is the founding of the United States of America and that Native Americans did not have a role in the founding of our country,’ said Santorum.
‘Now, you can say that’s a bad thing or a good thing or the way we treated Native Americans was bad, but I was giving a talk to a group of young people talking about the founding principles of religious liberty,’ he added.
Media observers suggested CNN may have fired Santorum to distract attention from Chris Cuomo’s issues.
‘Santorum being fired now, in late May, for comments he made in April that CNN tried to scuttle outrage over via apologetic appearances on other network shows is nothing more than a distraction from the news it won’t punish Chris Cuomo for secretly strategizing with his brother,’ commentator Jordan Uhl wrote on Twitter.