For months, Chris Cuomo has faced calls to resign from his CNN anchor seat after his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, resigned earlier in 2021 following numerous sexual harassment allegations. While the Cuomo Prime Time host has managed to weather several storms concerning what role he played behind the scenes during brother Andrew’s scandals, a possible new scandal has surfaced that, as of Nov. 30, 2021, has left Chris suspended from his job indefinitely.
The network said the possibility of Chris being reinstated remains up in the air “pending further evaluation,” while Chris himself has so far declined to comment on the network’s decision.
His suspension came hours after it was reported by CNN that “text messages between Chris Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa, a then-top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that suggested he was instrumental in working to craft a defense against a flood of sexual misconduct allegations… The text messages also revealed that Chris Cuomo sought to use his connections in the press to help prepare the then-governor’s team as accusers started to make their stories public.” At one point, DeRosa asked Chris via text, “Can you check your sources,” to which he replied, “On it.”
NEW: CNN host Chris Cuomo used his sources to get info on brother Andrew Cuomo’s accusers. He also engaged with sources to get a read on upcoming stories that took aim at his brother.
“I have a lead on the wedding girl,” Cuomo told Melissa DeRosa. https://t.co/KNEYbGXoGu
— Brian Schwartz (@schwartzbCNBC) November 29, 2021
In a text exchange between @ChrisCuomo and top Andrew Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, the CNN host asks to “please let me help with the prep” of his older brother’s sexual harassment defense and helps devise a PR strategy. pic.twitter.com/XnQ3W2axWE
— Josefa Velásquez (@J__Velasquez) November 29, 2021
Before that late-November bombshell, exactly one week after Andrew said he’d step down as Governor on Aug. 10 amid a wave of sexual harassment allegations, Chris first addressed his elephant in the room toward the end of his Cuomo Prime Time broadcast on Monday, Aug. 16.
“It was a unique situation, being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media,” Cuomo told viewers in an attempt to explain his actions. “I tried to do the right thing, and I just want you all to know that.”
“It was a unique situation being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media,” @ChrisCuomo says. “I tried to do the right thing, and I just want you-all to know that.” pic.twitter.com/oSWnxNImwG
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) August 17, 2021
The siblings, sons of late former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, had gained legions of new fans for how they offered comfort and authority in the early days of the pandemic. However, as the COVID-19 crisis continued, their masks began to slip, sometimes literally. And after Andrew’s resignation, there were calls for Chris to follow suit amid claims he was advising Andrew behind the scenes, which many consider to be a serious breach of journalistic practice, and that he continued to do so even after he promised on-air to stop.
Here’s what we know about Chris Cuomo’s scandals, his role in his big brother’s accusations, the latest accusation against Chris, how he’s defended his actions and what other media experts think of him staying on the job.
Is Chris Cuomo still on CNN?
Chris is now on indefinite suspension from his work at CNN, and the network has yet to indicate if or when he could return.
Months before that, Chris revealed on his podcast that he’d be on vacation the week of Aug. 8-15—only a few days before Andrew’s resignation. While the timing seemed suspicious, Chris said that the break was a long-planned one to celebrate for his 51st birthday. “Every year I take my birthday week off,” Chris explained. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Chris returned to his Cuomo Prime Time post on Aug. 16, where he defended his action behind the scenes.
“My position has never changed. I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program,” he said. “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
Was Chris Cuomo accused of sexual harassment?
In September 2021, one of Chris Cuomo’s former ABC News colleagues accused the CNN host of sexually harassing her while they worked together.
In an op-ed for The New York Times published on Sept. 24, 2021, Shelley Ross, a veteran television news producer and Chris’ boss at ABC News’ Primetime Live, alleged that he groped her at a work party in 2005 in front of her husband, who witnessed the entire incident. At the time, she was no longer his superior and was working on a different show, and she recalled that Chris told her, “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss.”
She included an email (with screenshots) of an apology he sent to her after the incident occurred. In the email, Chris apologizes first to Ross’ husband, then to her. He pointed out that actor Christian Slater “got arrested for a (kind of) similar act (though borne of an alleged negative intent, unlike my own).”
“I never thought that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior was sexual in nature,” Ross wrote. “Whether he understood it at the time or not, his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff.”
For his part, Chris said in a statement, “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”
Did Chris Cuomo address his brother’s resignation?
Not only did Chris address his brother’s resignation on Cuomo Prime Time; he also claimed that he’d ultimately encouraged Andrew to quit.
“While it was something I never imagined ever having to do,” he told viewers, according to The New York Times, “I did urge my brother to resign, when the time came.”
Chris Cuomo addresses his brother’s resignation, says “I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously had a conflict.” He doesn’t apologize for advising him — in fact he denies serving as an adviser altogether — and says he urged Andrew to resign. pic.twitter.com/onqRTuqmvJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 17, 2021
Chris also said, “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. And my advice to my brother was simple and consistent: Own what you did. Tell people what you’ll do to be better. Be contrite. And finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived.”
Why did Andrew Cuomo resign?
Andrew’s Aug. 10 resignation as governor of New York came in the wake of a recent report from New York Attorney General Letitia James finding that he sexually harassed 11 women during his tenure in Albany. Cuomo was also plagued in recent months by allegations that he and his staff deliberately underreported nursing home deaths caused by COVID-19 and that he improperly used government resources to help write his October 2020 book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,
“The best way I can help now is if I step aside and let government get back to governing, and therefore, that’s what I’ll do, because I work for you, and doing the right thing is doing the right thing for you,” the 63-year-old Andrew said in his resignation address.
Did Chris Cuomo report on his brother?
On the day Andrew resigned, a reporter spotted Chris in the Hamptons (the site of his birthday vacation) and asked him about whether he’d spoken with Andrew that day in light of the latter’s unexpected resignation. “Of course I have,” Chris replied; however, he seemingly refused to answer any other questions.
Throughout the pandemic—until the scandals against Andrew began to surface—the two brothers engaged in lots of playful on-air banter that viewers largely found to be soothing and heartwarming amid the tragedy of the COVID-19 crisis. The most famous example may be when Chris teased Andrew from the CNN studio with a giant COVID test swab.
In March 2021, when negative headlines about Andrew began appearing, Chris said about then choosing to keep silent, “Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother. And obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother… CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
In August 2021, after returning from his vacation, Chris addressed the controversy on air.
“I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have conflict, and there are rules at CNN about that,” he said. He added, “I never reported on the scandal. And when it happened, I tried to be there for my brother. I’m not an adviser, I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen, offer my take.”
Should Chris Cuomo resign from CNN?
Earlier in 2021—before Andrew’s scandal and subsequent resignation—a slew of high-profile journalists were already slamming CNN for allowing Chris to frequently interview his brother on the air.
“The fact CNN ever allowed Andrew Cuomo to appear on Chris Cuomo’s show is incomprehensible to me,” Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Susanne Craig tweeted back in March 2021 when sexual harassment allegations against Andrew were first surfacing.
The fact CNN ever allowed Andrew Cuomo to appear on Chris Cuomo’s show is incomprehensible to me. https://t.co/2SbF0iMCQV
— Susanne Craig (@susannecraig) March 2, 2021
Fellow Times writer Annie Karni agreed, tweeting at the time, “What never made sense to me was Chris Cuomo covering him when things were going well for Andrew Cuomo,” while Washington Post reporter Ben Terris cracked, “Every J-school student knows that ethically you are only allowed to interview your brother when the news about him is good. That’s like, a day one lesson.”
That makes sense.
What never made sense to me was Chris Cuomo covering him when things were going well for Andrew Cuomo. https://t.co/qzk0qrQZeE
— Annie Karni (@anniekarni) March 2, 2021
Every J-school student knows that ethically you are only allowed to interview your brother when the news about him is good. That’s like, a day one lesson https://t.co/LxqttbWIWy
— Ben Terris (@bterris) March 2, 2021
Even fellow CNN staffers questioned the ethics of Chris covering Andrew. CNN’s own senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy, tweeted, “The revelation that Cuomo had advised his brother during strategy sessions has vexed staffers inside CNN. Multiple CNN staffers told me they were bothered by Cuomo’s conduct and the violation of traditional journalistic standards.”
The revelation that Cuomo had advised his brother during strategy sessions has vexed staffers inside CNN. Multiple CNN staffers told me they were bothered by Cuomo’s conduct and the violation of traditional journalistic standards. https://t.co/Dg5QWxOxNu
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) May 20, 2021
In the wake of Chris’ November 2021 suspension—and the news that he’d allegedly pulled strings behind the scenes by using his journalism connections and bona fides to help defend his brother—the criticism against him was fast and swift.
If some news channel intern did what Chris Cuomo did they’d have been fired one second after these docs were published https://t.co/IVw6XvKujP
— David Weigel (@daveweigel) November 30, 2021
— Frank Luntz (@FrankLuntz) November 29, 2021
Did Chris Cuomo advise Andrew Cuomo on his sexual harassment allegations?
In May 2021, the Washington Post reported that Chris, allegedly working with Andrew’s legal and communications teams, had advised Andrew on how to handle the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
Following that story, Chris said in an on-air apology, “When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisers that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again… It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot. I never intended for that. I would never intend for that and I am sorry for that.”
Chris also admitted in that apology to being biased in favor of his brother. “I can be objective about just about any topic,” he said, “but not about my family.”
A CNN spokesperson, meanwhile, said in a statement, “Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo—on-air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother. However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
However, in August 2021—just one day before Andrew resigned—the Washington Post reported that Chris was still in contact with Andrew to talk strategizing in the mounting face of a possible impeachment. Emails surfaced allegedly from Chris advising Andrew to deny and ignore the sexual harassment allegations, as well as to downplay them as jokes. According to The New York Times, Chris also advised Andrew to finally resign after the loss of several key aides from his employ.
Do not overlook the Cuomo report appendix, which includes Charlotte Bennett’s texts about her Cuomo interactions and this email from Chris Cuomo appearing to draft a statement for his brother https://t.co/uN17cZRbNJ pic.twitter.com/etUCrQbWTX
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) August 3, 2021
Upon Chris’ return from vacation on Aug. 16, 2021, he said on Cuomo Prime Time, “I’m not an adviser; I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and to offer my take. And my advice to my brother was simple and consistent: own what you did, tell people what you’ll do to be better, be contrite, and, finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived.”
Of course, this differs from the leaked email above, but in fairness, he may have advised (even if not as “an adviser”) his brother to do otherwise privately.
Did Chris Cuomo lie about quarantining when he had COVID-19?
In April 2020, when Chris Cuomo was supposedly quarantining during his COVID-19 battle, he got into a verbal scuffle with a man riding a bike outdoors on Easter Sunday of that year. The bicyclist filed a police report about the incident. Cuomo admitted that he was out and about with his family, but later made a point to show himself emerging from his basement on Cuomo Tonight as if it were the first time he’d done so since his diagnosis.
Did Chris Cuomo refuse to wear a mask when required?
According to the New York Post, back in 2020, Chris Cuomo ignored mask rules in his building and at other private events despite his brother Andrew’s own orders to mask up (and Chris’ on-air admonishment of those who didn’t wear masks).
Will Chris Cuomo resign?
It seems that Chris’ latest scandal still may not be enough to prompt him to resign from his anchor position of Cuomo Prime Time or from CNN as a whole. However, he previously hinted that if he does quit his job, he’ll at least be financially comfortable.
“I don’t want to spend my time doing things that I don’t think are valuable enough to me personally. I don’t value indulging irrationality, hyper-partisanship,” he griped on his radio show in April 2020, adding in part, “I don’t think it’s worth it to me because I don’t think I mean enough, I don’t think I matter enough, I don’t think I can really change anything, so then what am I really doing? … I’m basically being perceived as successful in a system that I don’t value. I’m seen as being good at being on TV and advocating for different positions … but I don’t know if I value those things, certainly not as much as I value being able to live my life on my own terms.”
Is Chris Cuomo an attorney?
Cuomo is a licensed attorney who practiced law and worked in finance before embarking on a career in media. His first media job was as a correspondent for FOX News’ FOX Files and as a political analyst for the network. He then moved to ABC News, with stints on Good Morning America and 20/20, covering major stories like Hurricane Sandy, the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and several high-profile mass shootings.
Is Don Lemon related to Chris Cuomo?
No, Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo aren’t related by blood, though they do affectionately call one another “brother” often.
https://parade.com/1246960/jessicasager/chris-cuomo-resign/ Is Chris Cuomo Still on CNN? Is CNN Going to Fire Chris Cuomo? What We Know