The Chris Cuomo/CNN Saga Abruptly Takes a Dark Turn

Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Back in late November when now-former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was “suspended indefinitely” from the network, they gave the impression that the impetus behind it was documents that were released days earlier by New York State Attorney General Tish James’ office about Cuomo’s role in helping craft a targeted response strategy to the sexual harassment allegations made against his brother and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).


The documents, which included copies of text messages, revealed that Chris Cuomo’s role in advising his brother was much more expansive than either he or CNN had previously acknowledged.

Two days after they suspended him, then-CNN president Jeff Zucker announced they’d fired him – but in their statement, they included an intriguing bit of information left unexplained.

“While in the process of that review [of his involvement with his brother’s defense], additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate,” they wrote.

As we reported in December, speculation was swirling that the “additional information” had something to do with a former “junior colleague” of Cuomo’s when he worked for ABC News. That former co-worker, through her lawyer, had recently made CNN aware of an alleged incident involving alleged “sexual misconduct” on his part back in 2011.

The type of “misconduct” was not specified at the time, which made it harder to gauge how serious the claim was. But via fresh reporting from the New York Times, we now know that it was allegedly far more than just “misconduct.” It involved what his accuser said was a sexual assault:

According to the woman, she was working as a temporary staffer on ABC News in 2011 and was hoping for a permanent role.

Chris invited her to his office for lunch, she says. She arrived but found there was no food. He then allegedly started ‘badgering’ her for sex and when she refused him, she says he sexually assaulted her. No other details about the alleged assault have been made public. The woman said she then sent him friendly emails to try to smooth things over.

When the #MeToo movement gained momentum, she said she heard from Chris – by this time CNN’s star host. He said he wanted to run a segment on the firm where she worked.

She said she interpreted it as a veiled threat not to come forward with her own #MeToo claim. A spokesman for Cuomo denied the allegations outlined in the letter.


Just a few months before that letter was sent to CNN, former ABC News executive producer Shelley Ross wrote an op/ed for the Times alleging that Cuomo groped her at a party. Ross had the receipts to back up her claim – an email apology from Chris Cuomo himself sent shortly after the incident:

Not long after Ross went public, it was reported that Cuomo’s “Prime Time” executive producer Melanie Buck had “begged” the higher-ups at the failing network to move her elsewhere within the company because she (and some of her colleagues) claimed to have felt “threatened” by Cuomo’s aggressive and combative behavior at times.

As far as the sexual assault allegation goes, only Cuomo and his accuser know as to whether or not it’s true. But considering the other claims against him, one which he acknowledged, it would appear that both Chris Cuomo and his brother Andrew are like peas in a pod when it comes to their lack of respect for women and apparent belief that they’re good to have around whenever the two brothers get that “touchy-feely” urge.

What absolutely loathsome creeps. The only thing that makes the stories about their predatory behavior and bullying tactics worse is the knowledge that apparently it was an “open secret” in New York political and entertainment circles, but was kept quiet partly out of fear and partly because of who they were and the power they held. While it’s good that both are in far less powerful positions today than they used to be, unfortunately, the “hush-hush” mentality that led to it being kept secret for so long persists.


Related: Our Media Overlords Are Not Happy


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