Former ABC producer harassed by Chris Cuomo says internal CNN investigation is insufficient

Media top headlines December 3

In media news today, CNN stays silent on who will conduct an outside firm probe into the Cuomo scandal, Kathy Griffin calls out the liberal network for keeping Jeffrey Toobin despite firing her, and an MSNBC analyst claims Republicans oppose Fauci because they want the pandemic to continue.

Former ABC News producer Shelley Ross, whom Chris Cuomo sexually harassed in 2005, said an internal CNN review of his conduct surrounding his brother’s harassment scandal would be insufficient.

“Only an outside team of professionals can stop malicious, neglectful, or consciously wrong behavior by those who engage in it or enable it,” Shelley Ross told Fox News Digital.

Cuomo has been indefinitely suspended by CNN after documents released by New York investigators showed his involvement in aiding his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, through his sexual misconduct scandal was far more extensive than previously known. Chris Cuomo’s snooping on reporters looking into his brother and investigation of his brother’s accusers for Gov. Cuomo’s political aides has been widely condemned as unethical and even meriting of dismissal from CNN, where he hosts “Cuomo Prime Time.”

(Shelley Ross/Getty Images)

It’s unclear who will conduct the review of Cuomo’s conduct that could ultimately determine if he stays or leaves the liberal, scandal-plagued network.

Ross pointed to the 2005 investigation by CBS News over the Dan Rather document scandal, when the disgraced anchor reported on forged documents about then-President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

“In 2005 CBS set the standard when they hired [former U.S. Attorney General] Richard L. Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired chief executive of the Associated Press, to investigate the journalism and the corporate culture surrounding Dan Rather’s erroneous reporting of President Bush’s Air National Guard duty,” she told Fox.

Ross, a veteran journalist, accused Cuomo in a New York Times guest essay in September of squeezing her backside without her consent at a bar in 2005, when he also worked at ABC, with a sort of “cocky arrogance.” She produced an email he sent soon after the incident where he apologized but also insisted his behavior was not meant to be sexual.

Ross said earlier this week that Cuomo had lied to CNN and his viewers but nevertheless predicted he would not be fired. Ross did not call for Cuomo’s firing when she wrote about the groping incident but called on him to use his platform to advance the discussion about women’s workplace and harassment issues.

A collection of previously confidential documents revealed CNN’s Chris Cuomo was more involved with his big brother’s sexual misconduct scandal than previously known. 
(CNN  |  istock)

“When he’s invited back, he still should be assigned a series on sexual harassment and ethics in the workplace,” Ross told Fox News Digital.

Gov. Cuomo resigned his post in August, capping a stunning political downfall after he was floated as a possible 2020 presidential candidate last year.

Meanwhile, CNN is facing pressure to enlist an outside firm to look into the younger Cuomo, whom it has given considerable latitude over the years. He was allowed to interview his brother during the coronavirus pandemic in a series of friendly interactions on his show, and he was not reprimanded when reports first emerged about him privately advising his brother when sexual harassment allegations began mounting against him.

“CNN needs to commission an outside investigation like they did with their Tailwind debacle if there is to be any credibility,” a longtime media executive told Fox News Digital, referring to the infamous 1998 retraction of a CNN story that falsely claimed the U.S. military used nerve gas in a mission to kill American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War.

One CNN insider who spoke to Fox News Digital this week said it was “beyond the pale” to think an internal probe would be satisfactory.

“Who would trust that? The New York State Attorney General’s Investigation speaks for itself. Chris Cuomo’s actions can’t be papered-over by a CNN probe,” the insider said.

It’s already been floated by CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter, who often serves as a de facto spokesman for the network, that Cuomo could be back as soon as January. 

 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo arrives to depart in his helicopter after announcing his resignation in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 10, 2021. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs
(REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)

“The suspension is indefinite. There is no end date. It will remain that way until after a review,” a CNN spokesperson told Fox News Digital when asked if the newsletter indicated Cuomo would return. “The statement couldn’t be any more clear.”

“Anything is possible, but it’s all speculative until the review is complete. It’s not even been 24 hrs,” the spokesman said in a follow-up. “[Stelter] asked me last night just like every other reporter. And I just told you what I told him. I assume your TV hit would look pretty similar.”

Fox News’ Brian Flood contributed to this report.

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