Los Angeles Times

Cuomo off air at CNN

Prime-time anchor is suspended indefinite­ly for advising brother in harassment scandal.

- By Stephen Battaglio

CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo “indefinite­ly” after reviewing the host’s testimony in the investigat­ion of sexual harassment allegation­s against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

CNN issued a statement Tuesday saying Chris Cuomo’s role as an advisor to his brother as he battled the allegation­s went beyond what the company previously knew.

Testimony released Monday by the office of New York State Atty. Gen. Letitia James showed that Chris Cuomo was deeply involved in shaping his brother’s defense, including contacting other journalist­s to inquire whether other female accusers were coming forward.

“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcript­s and exhibits Monday that shed new light

on Chris Cuomo’s involvemen­t in his brother’s defense,” a CNN representa­tive said. “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. 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.”

The statement’s descriptio­n of the suspension as indefinite prompted some insiders to wonder whether Cuomo would return.

“Calling it an indefinite suspension sends a message that this might not end well,” said one CNN veteran, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The rank and file at CNN have expressed anger at Cuomo for aiding his politician brother during a crisis, a breach of journalist­ic ethics that would not have been tolerated from an employee of lesser stature.

Cuomo has hosted “Cuomo Prime Time” since 2018 and is the most watched personalit­y on CNN. Although the network’s ratings have declined overall since the end of the Trump administra­tion, Cuomo’s program has maintained its relative strength in CNN’s lineup despite the scandal. Anderson Cooper filled in for Cuomo on Tuesday.

Cuomo joined CNN from ABC News in 2013 and has been a prime-time host since 2018.

CNN executives stood by Cuomo when it was revealed in May that he was involved in staff calls with his brother as the then-governor battled the harassment accusation­s. After the release of James’ investigat­ion, Andrew Cuomo resigned Aug. 10 to avoid a likely impeachmen­t trial.

Chris Cuomo gave a deposition in July for the investigat­ion, which found that his brother had sexually harassed 11 women, including several who worked with him.

According to texts in the attorney general’s report, Chris Cuomo firmly weighed in on the communicat­ions strategy for his brother’s response to the scandal as it unfolded earlier this year and offered to investigat­e at least one claim.

He is quoted as saying that he had informatio­n on a woman who accused the then-governor of unwanted touching at a wedding reception.

“I have a lead on the wedding girl,” he wrote in a text to the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, according to the report. The report also says Cuomo sought to get informatio­n on a story that journalist Ronan Farrow was working on for the New Yorker about the governor.

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