As New York’s state attorney general released thousands of pages revealing that CNN host Chris Cuomo had tried to help his brother defend himself against sexual harassment charges by finding out the details of a forthcoming media story, Cuomo ignored his newest personal scandal on Monday’s episode of “Cuomo Prime Time.” He instead chose to discuss 95-year-old crooner Tony Bennett, COVID-19, and several dictionaries’ choices for “word of the year.”
Earlier in the day, CNN announced it would conduct a “thorough review” of “thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits” released by New York Attorney General (and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful) Letitia James, which show Cuomo used his position as a reporter to defend his embattled brother, then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D).
The documents reveal that Cuomo admitted under oath that he tried to ferret out the details of Ronan Farrow’s reporting on the governor’s sexual harassment scandal, something the anchor described as “business-as-usual.” That significantly expanded the younger Cuomo’s admitted role as part of his brother’s kitchen cabinet, committed to protecting the governor, even if his accusers’ allegations were true. As this author reported at The Daily Wire:
In May, The Washington Post revealed that Chris Cuomo had advised his brother on how to handle the allegations that he groped or propositioned a series of women who worked for him. The day the story broke, both Chris Cuomo and CNN promised that they had learned their lesson. Cuomo swore “it will not happen again,” in part because of how it reflected on CNN.
After it emerged that the CNN host continued to advise his brother, Chris Cuomo defended his ethical propriety on the air on August 16, in what he promised would be his “final word” on the subject. At the time, he said, “I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation,” something the latest probe appears to contradict.
Earlier in August, CNN’s Brian Stelter defended his colleague on “The Late Show,” telling Stephen Colbert that Cuomo observed appropriate “boundaries” in his handling of his brother’s situation. But in his most recent “Reliable Sources” newsletter, Stelter wrote:
Chris had generally acknowledged and defended advising his brother – but the scope of how the anchor aimed to help his brother was more considerable than previously known. And he was more intimately involved than anyone on the outside appreciated. For example, texts between Chris Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa indicated that 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. (Emphases in original.)
As he did during his brother’s sexual harassment charges, Cuomo simply ducked the subject.
Instead, Chris Cuomo chose to open his program with a rare, two-minute-long dialogue with Anderson Cooper about his affection for crooner Tony Bennett.
He then wished a “happy Hanukkah, to my Jewish brothers and sisters!” He added, “I hope Thanksgiving was a reminder for everybody of the good people and the good things in your life. Lord knows we could use the help, right?”
Cuomo — who is dependably liberal — took a decidedly more populist approach to the issues on Monday night’s episode. Cuomo critiqued the legacy media’s coverage of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 during the Thanksgiving holiday. (“They skipped a couple letters in their labeling of variants, for different reasons,” he said opaquely.)
That echoed the way he deflected his brother’s sexual harassment probe three months earlier.
“We’re focused on COVID here,” said Cuomo as he opened his August 3 show, “especially until we get the Delta variant under control.”
How CNN’s Chris Cuomo started his show tonight:
“I’m Chris Cuomo. Welcome to "Prime Time." We're focused on COVID here.”
He’s forgetting something. pic.twitter.com/weS89sGTtT
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) August 4, 2021
Cuomo dedicated two segments to the Omicron variant, one segment to the phone call between Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), another to cracking down on smash-and-grab robberies. He closed with a segment on the “word of the year” as chosen by various dictionary companies.
Cuomo said bad behavior in politics will never improve, because “nobody ever says anything about” such infractions, “none of the leadership; they’re just quiet in these cases.”
Although numerous watchdogs called for Chris Cuomo to step down or be fired months ago, CNN has thus far stood by the well-connected personality. A former CNN employee told The Hill that CNN brass deliberately keep their ethical standards vague to avoid having to fire favored hosts — or to allow them to fire disfavored contributors. “They can’t say that [Cuomo]’s violated any written [ethical] policies because there aren’t any, period,” Steve Holmes told The Hill.
During his 10 p.m. hand-off with Don Lemon on Monday night, Lemon offered Cuomo his support:
I know you had a great Thanksgiving — I hope you did. I missed you. I am grateful for your friendship and your love. I think that you are fantastic–one of the kindest people I know on this planet. There you go — I meant every word.
Cuomo, whose “Cuomo Prime Time” once reigned as the CNN’s top-rated program, lost its first-place position to “Anderson Cooper 360” earlier this month. In the first week of November, Cuomo attracted only 684,000 viewers.
Related: Chris Cuomo Ignores Brother’s Controversy – And His Own. Then Don Lemon Attacks the Gov.