Yesterday was an absolute bombshell of a day for CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who has been lying since day one about his brother’s job as Governor of New York.
The Cuomo Prime Time anchor repeatedly had his brother on the air at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in New York and yucked it up with some friendly brother-versus-brother banter all while Andrew, the Governor, was sending COVID-19 patients into nursing homes and (allegedly) sexually harassing women left and right.
Then it came out that the anchor was actually part of his brother’s PR team. He denied his role, saying he listened in and offered advice but that was it. He then declined to speak any further on the subject.
Fast forward to yesterday, and leaked texts confirmed what we knew: Chris Cuomo was lying through his teeth about his involvement.
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
This was just the tip of the iceberg where his involvement was concerned (you can see more of those texts here).
These texts came out as part of New York attorney general Letitia James’s investigation of Andrew Cuomo, and they paint a very disturbing picture: A media-embedded Chris Cuomo used his sources and contacts to help his big brother’s team find out who the accusers are so they could go after them.
Chris Cuomo has escaped the controversy relatively unscathed, though the documents released Monday show he played a more significant role advising his brother than he has publicly acknowledged. The primetime anchor, who was accused this year of making unwanted sexual advances against an ABC News executive in 2005, claims he encouraged his brother to apologize to his accusers. Cuomo also denies trying to discredit any of the governor’s accusers, though his exchange with DeRosa may call that claim into question.
Cuomo told DeRosa in a message on March 4 he had a “lead on the wedding girl,” a reference to Anna Ruch. Ruch told the New York Times on March 1 that Cuomo touched her inappropriately and asked to kiss her during a wedding reception in 2019. When asked about the text messages at a deposition on July 15, Chris Cuomo testified he had heard from a friend that Ruch accused Andrew Cuomo of wrongdoing because “she had been put up to it.” Cuomo said he did not pursue the matter further after speaking with DeRosa, who said Ruch had complained about the incident soon after it happened.
There are two issues at play here. The first is the issue of covering up and trying to get dirt on the accusers against Andrew Cuomo. That is certainly the focus of most of the coverage on this story. However, the second issue at play is a wider condemnation of the modern media as a whole, one which did very little to shine a light on just how corrupt and unethical the CNN personality’s coverage of his brother was.
The problem at CNN isn’t just Cuomo. His behavior is unconscionable, but the rot runs much deeper.
This isn’t a “the media has a Democrat bias” issue. This is a leadership issue. It’s a Jeff Zucker problem. He brought in an entertainment focus to CNN when he got there (remember the hiring of Anthony Bourdain, Mike Rowe, and Lisa Ling?), pulling in stars who could expand CNN’s audience. But that focus on the entertainment side of things went too far. The network has its biases, but moving folks like Don Lemon and Andrew Cuomo into prime evening slots is not something you do when news is your focus. It is a move you make when you want to draw in crowds.
Between Zucker forcing a paradigm shift at CNN and the power of advertising creeping in and pushing the network’s corporate leaders further away from the mission of the network, there was never a chance that journalism would win out.
Chris Cuomo absolutely shouldn’t have a job right now. And while it appears that CNN may finally be wise to this, the damage is done. As a network, CNN is struggling to break a million viewers. Its prime-time shows are nowhere close. There is so little media trust and the network that literally built its brand on trust in the news has squandered all that trust for access to interviews with Andrew Cuomo and cutesy banter between brothers. CNN is complicit in the absolute journalistic farce that is Chris Cuomo’s journalism failure, if not in Andrew Cuomo’s cover-up.
That Chris Cuomo still has a job is both unbelievable and yet entirely expected. I still don’t quite buy the idea that he’s going to be fired. I pray that I’m wrong on that, but at this point, nothing the executives of that network have done inspires much confidence that they can right the ship.