News and Analysis

Chris Cuomo Demands $125 Million From CNN: Cuomo’s ‘Journalistic Integrity Unjustifiably Smeared’
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 09: Chris Cuomo attends the 12th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 9, 2018 in New York City.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for CNN

Former CNN host Chris Cuomo is out to settle scores and collect millions of dollars in damages. On Wednesday, he entered a complaint against his former network, demanding $125 million — 15 million in lost salary and $110 million in further reparations and damages. The network’s former top-rated personality said the circumstances of his firing last December left his “journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared.”

He also alleges that CNN executives Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust knew about the full extent of his role advising then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), and even “acted as advisors to Gov. Cuomo during this time” themselves. Chris Cuomo says after his separation from the network, CNN personalities — including Zucker, Brian Stelter, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, and Anderson Cooper — “openly disparaged Cuomo in violation” of his 2019 contract.

Cuomo filed a demand for arbitration that says the network owes him $14,406,250 in base pay for the remaining 19 months left on his contract, not including bonuses. The filing, which was obtained by Deadline, also requests “damages sufficient to allow Cuomo to recover his damages as proven at trial, but in no event less than $125 million.”

His attorneys justify such a high dollar figure on the grounds that “Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million” in penalties and “future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation.”

Then-CNN President Jeffrey Zucker claimed to have been blindsided by new revelations of how closely the “Cuomo Prime Time” host advised his brother during a cascade of sexual harassment allegations last year. Zucker placed Cuomo on leave last November 30, pending the outcome of an investigation. Three days later, the network fired him.

But the host’s attorneys say that “Cuomo fully complied with CNN’s standards and practices, including by keeping CNN executives apprised of his actions at all times.” That proved difficult, because “CNN fostered a culture in which the network’s standards and practices were a constantly moving target, modified at CNN executives’ discretion as they saw fit,” Cuomo’s attorneys claim.

Cuomo says Zucker’s actions proved doubly dishonest, because he and Gollust provided Governor Cuomo with “talking points and strategies for responding to statements made by then-President Donald Trump” during this time frame. Through a spokeswoman, Gollust denies these charges, calling her exchanges “innocuous” and “mundane,” according to the filing.

Chris Cuomo also helped his brother spin allegations that his administration lied about the number of senior citizens who died of COVID-19 in nursing homes, according to newly-released emails obtained by the New York Post.

Cuomo’s filing includes seven pages of complaints about the actions of Cuomo’s former colleagues questioning Cuomo’s integrity, motives, and ethics. Brian Stelter, who has long enjoyed a close relationship with Zucker, accused Cuomo of “trying to burn the place down” with his charges. Don Lemon, with whom Cuomo would banter for up to 15 minutes nightly during their hand-off at 10 p.m. Eastern, argued against paying Cuomo’s severance because it would prove Cuomo could “break with those journalistic standards and then get paid handsomely for it.” Still others made anonymous statements to media outlets.

Chris Cuomo has kept a low profile since leaving the network a little more than three months after his brother resigned from office over sexual harassment charges.

Andrew Cuomo has launched a minor political comeback, telling a New York City church that he was a victim of “cancel culture.” This filing may be the beginning of his brother’s comeback.

Zucker, too, has tried to cash in after being ousted from the network last month. CNN has reportedly agreed to compensate Zucker somewhere between $5 million and $10 million.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Chris Cuomo Demands $125 Million From CNN: Cuomo’s ‘Journalistic Integrity Unjustifiably Smeared’