“The View” guest host Jane Coaston said Tuesday that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and his brother, former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) had chosen power over doing the right thing when the former reportedly used his contacts as a journalist to dig up information on the women who had accused the latter of sexual harassment and assault.
Coaston, an ABC contributor and host/editor of “The Argument” podcast at The New York Times, joined regular co-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Sara Haines, Sunny Hostin, and Joy Behar — and she seemed to be the only one who believed that Chris Cuomo might have committed an egregious ethical offense when he allegedly kept tabs on upcoming stories about the accusations against his brother.
Goldberg introduced the topic with a clip of the CNN anchor responding to reports in May that he had quietly advised his brother on how to handle the sexual harassment allegations.
“I said point-blank, I can’t be objective when it comes to my family. So 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 and offer my take. This will be my final word on it, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so,” Cuomo said.
“So does this change the situation for Chris and CNN or for his brother or what does this actually all mean?” Goldberg asked.
“I think he’s in a little bit of trouble. I do. I like Chris, you know, I know the family,” Behar replied, prompting an interruption from Coaston almost immediately.
“I think he’s in a lot of trouble. If you were reporting about this on someone else, you would be saying that person should be fired,” Coaston said.
“I’m not going to be judge and jury of the guy,” Behar replied, saying that she understood Cuomo’s desire to help his brother but wondered if it didn’t just look bad. “I get it anyway, but you don’t use your position in the media to help him. I mean, he – he said, I have a lead on the wedding girl. He called Andrew’s aide, and I think that that is, like, let’s find out some dirt on your accuser? That’s right out of, you know, some kind of defense attorney … I don’t think that’s kosher, frankly. Whether he should be fired for it, you know, that’s for Jeff Zucker to figure out, not me. There’s a lot in this story that doesn’t feel right even though I do appreciate the Cuomo family very much.”
“I think it comes down to – it doesn’t feel right. It seems unseemly,” Hostin, a former prosecutor, added. “Is it illegal? I don’t think so. I think he’s a brother and he wanted to help his brother.”
Haines stopped short of suggesting Cuomo should be fired, but argued like Hostin that something just did not feel right. “He said he was not going to report on it, but he did the work of a reporter, like he was doing the work while saying he wasn’t covering it. He also used his access and his name, and he keeps saying he’s not an adviser, but he is doing this,” she said.
“This is a massive ethical breach,” Coaston said when they turned to her, saying that it was one of the basics of working at a news agency. “Like, if you found out that an intern did this, they would be gone a second after these text messages came out, and I think that this is an abuse of power. What – this took place – the only reason Chris Cuomo was able to do any of this, he was able to get sources on some of the accusers, think about what that would – you see in these text messages how it’s not just Chris Cuomo, to be clear, and I think it’s really worth taking a look at what Letitia James released. You’re seeing people talking about these accusers like they’re just nuisances. One person says, can we just fire all the women from the governor’s mansion? Just the ways in which power took precedence over doing what’s right –”
“Don’t confuse the governor’s mansion with Chris Cuomo,” Behar objected.
“But he was helping,” Coaston argued, saying that especially in a world where the line between opinion and straight news is often blurred or ignored entirely, Cuomo had a responsibility to his viewers to either be more transparent or less involved.