Update (12/4/21): On December 4, CNN released a statement, reading, “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement in with his brother's defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
On November 30, CNN suspended prime-time host Chris Cuomo after the release of documents from the New York attorney general revealing that the CNN anchor had leveraged his role as a journalist to try to help his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, weather multiple reports of sexual misconduct.
The Washington Post reported in May that Chris Cuomo has advised his brother not to resign. Cuomo apologized on the air, but faced no consequences. The newly released documents reveal that his role was much more expansive than he had previously acknowledged, showing that he had even offered to reach out to “sources” in order to find out if more women were planning to come forward.
Using his connections as a journalist to try to help a political figure represents a huge breach of journalistic ethics, and many media analysts at other mainstream outlets agree that Cuomo can’t regain his credibility and should remain off the air:
The Atlantic’s David A. Graham: “Chris Cuomo Must Go”
Perhaps few can blame Chris Cuomo for being “family first, job second,” as he said in May. “Being a journalist and a brother to a politician is unique, and a unique challenge, and I have a unique responsibility to balance those roles.” Whether that balance was ever truly achievable is debatable, but the conflict between the roles eventually became irreconcilable. He could have chosen to step down from his job to back his brother, or he could have chosen to distance himself from the scandal and commit to journalism. Instead, he tried to have it both ways. In using his journalistic skills and access to aid his brother, Cuomo broke trust with his employers and, more important, his audience.
The New York Times’ Gail Collins: “Chris Cuomo Has a Funny Idea About What Doing His Job Means”
Our job today is to decide how bad Chris Cuomo’s Andrew-related activities have been. It’s very easy to sympathize with his desire to protect his older brother. Their bond was evident in a series of joint, jibing TV appearances they did, some while Chris was recovering from Covid early last year, quarantined away from his family.
As a journalist, Chris had a terrible conflict of interest when Andrew fell into headline-making disgrace. The obvious answer was to keep clear, steeling himself against a very natural desire to protect a brother and a very Cuomo-like impulse to take control of the situation.
Where do you draw the line between journalism and family? Maybe at the point where you, the prominent news anchor, start thinking that your job is running down rumors for your brother.
The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan: “Why Chris Cuomo’s ‘family first’ defense just doesn’t fly”
After much dithering, CNN leadership finally did the right thing on Tuesday when it put its star anchor Chris Cuomo on an indefinite suspension from the network.
There was no other choice consistent with even a modicum of journalistic standards after the New York state attorney general released thousands of pages of evidence related to the investigation of sexual misconduct charges by 11 women against former governor Andrew M. Cuomo, the TV host’s older brother.
Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley: “It’s Time for CNN to Can Chris Cuomo for Being Completely Full of Crap”
Whatever embers of journalistic credibility that still smoldered for CNN anchor Chris Cuomo were extinguished by a giant fire hose on Monday when new documents revealed he’d misled viewers about working on behalf of his older brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during the sexual harassment and groping scandal that ultimately led to the latter Cuomo’s resignation.
Some analysts called out CNN as complicit for not pulling or investigating Cuomo when news initially broke about his role as an adviser for his brother in May, or highlighted the network’s role going forward.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple: “CNN’s Chris Cuomo scandal is Jeff Zucker’s scandal, too”
It’s unclear how many details of Chris Cuomo’s involvement were known to CNN all along. What is clear is that 100 percent of his misdeeds are also now the misdeeds of Zucker, who didn’t launch a “thorough review and consideration” months ago, before the damning emails and texts surfaced.
Poynter’s Tom Jones: “Chris Cuomo helped his brother more than we knew. What will CNN do about it?”
Meanwhile, as I also pointed out previously, how would you feel if you were a woman at CNN and a powerful employee at that company was trying to help someone, even if it was his brother, defuse and overcome allegations of disturbing sexual misconduct?
Mainstream journalists on Twitter also expressed open contempt for Cuomo’s behavior.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel:
The Washington Post’s Gene Park:
Los Angeles Times’ Matt Pearce:
Los Angeles Times’ Erin B. Logan:
Rolling Stone’s Noah Shachtman:
It remains to be seen how CNN will ultimately respond, but the network owes the rest of the press and its audience a serious and substantial investigation.