CNN's Chris Cuomo attempts to whitewash his conduct as a journalist while addressing his brother's resignation
Chris Cuomo taking flak
Stays silent on brother’s resignation
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was forced to address his brother’s resignation Monday while at the same time defending his own conduct both on and off the air.
Cuomo returned from his vacation, which began before Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he was stepping aside amid the explosive state report outlining allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment by 11 women.
“The situation is unlike anything I could have imagined. And yet, I know what matters at work and at home. Everyone knows you support your family. I know and appreciate that you get that, but you should also know I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have a conflict and there are rules at CNN about that,” Cuomo told viewers on Monday. “I said last year that his appearances on this show would be short-lived and they were. The last was over a year ago, long before any kind of scandal.”
While Cuomo acknowledged that he avoided his brother’s “troubles” due to the obvious conflict, he did not apply that such a conflict still exists even during good times, like when the governor was hailed by the media as the hero of the coronavirus pandemic for his daily press briefings.
CNN had lifted its rule that barred Cuomo from interviewing his brother in the early months of the pandemic and then reinstated the rule when the governor was the subject of a political firestorm.
Even “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert grilled CNN’s media guru Brian Stelter last week about the network’s “odd conflict of rules,” for which Stelter could not provide a logical explanation.
The “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor defended the chummy interviews he conducted with his brother and how they occurred “long before any kind of scandal.”
But the last Cuomo brothers’ interview took place on June 24, 2020, and Cuomo’s nursing home scandal surfaced the month prior.
The controversy stemmed from an executive order Cuomo signed in March 2020 forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. The governor reversed the order six weeks later, but it wasn’t long before his administration was accused of undercounting COVID deaths that occurred in assisted-living facilities throughout the state. Thousands of deaths have potentially been tied to the directive and reports have linked the administration’s coverup to the release of the governor’s COVID memoir touting his response to the pandemic.
It was the prop comedy the Cuomo brothers performed with the giant cotton swabs in May 2020 that inspired Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean to speak out on the nursing home scandal after she lost both of her in-laws, blaming the governor’s policy. She was angered by the media’s nonstop praise for the New York leader, who faced little to no scrutiny.
Chris Cuomo himself asked the governor about the controversy, albeit with a single softball question, in their final on-air exchange.
“Nursing homes. People died there, they didn’t have to, it was mismanaged and the operators have been given immunity. What do you have to say about that?” the CNN anchor asked.
“Several statements that are not correct, but that’s OK. It’s your show, you say whatever you want to say,” Gov. Cuomo jokingly reacted before dismissing the scandal.
Moments later, Cuomo declared his brother “the best politician in the country.”
Chris Cuomo assured his viewers, “I’m not an adviser, I’m a brother.” But New York Attorney General Letitia James’ report found Cuomo was a trusted outside confidant, who along with the governor’s top aides, worked to shield Gov. Cuomo from political damage.
Yet the liberal anchor failed to address the revelation from the AG report that he was involved in drafting a statement with the governor’s office. He may not refer to himself as an “adviser,” but he was named by The Washington Post as one of the “few advisers” the governor was speaking with in the days leading up to the resignation.
The younger Cuomo also told viewers the “advice” he gave to his brother amid the scandal.
“I was there to listen and offer my take and my advice to my brother was simple and consistent. Own what you did, tell people what you’ll do to be better, be contrite and finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is how your actions and words were perceived,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo insisted, “I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program.” While he admitted that he purposefully did not cover his brother’s political woes, he spent much of his recent on-air time attacking GOP governors instead, particularly Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
In the four days leading up to his vacation, Cuomo spent a whopping 51 minutes attacking DeSantis over his opposition to COVID mandates while spending zero minutes on the AG report about his brother.
The CNN host also told viewers, “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward.” That statement sidesteps an allegation that surfaced in The Washington Post which claimed Cuomo urged his brother in one of the strategy sessions to blame “cancel culture” in order to rebuke the accusers. The governor appeared to take the advice to heart, invoking cancel culture in remarks he made to reporters in March.
While his brother will step down from the national stage next week, questions regarding Cuomo’s credibility as a news anchor will carry on.
Critics have asked if he’ll be able to objectively cover the Democrats who called on his brother to resign. There are also concerns over whether Cuomo can cover #MeToo stories going forward since he secretly coordinated to defend his brother from the charges.
Among the many ongoing investigations swirling the governor include the VIP coronavirus testing he provided to friends and family, including Chris, in the early weeks of the pandemic as ordinary New Yorkers struggled to get access. Also looming is the pending release of Chris Cuomo’s testimony to James’ office, which could further complicate his role as CNN’s star anchor.
It could also be difficult for Chris Cuomo to ignore any future headlines involving his brother, including potential criminal charges that may arise from his various scandals.
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