Color me shocked that Gov. Andrew Cuomo knuckled under to demands he resign after a devastating report detailing his sexual harassment of 11 women. But it was not quite as shocking as reading a Washington Post report that CNN’s top star Chris Cuomo was still moonlighting (or daylighting) as one of his top political advisers.
Chris Cuomo should follow his big brother’s example and resign. This CNN situation should be seen as untenable. Chris made a promise not to do this again. Back in May, he said, point blank, “It will not happen again….It was a mistake because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot.” He claimed, “I know where the line is,” but he never demonstrated that he did.
CNN abruptly fired three employees for the offense of going unvaccinated and coming to the office, but Chris Cuomo seemingly faces no consequences for his years of advising infractions. Ex-Cuomo strategist Susan Del Percio said on MSNBC that Chris was moonlighting back in 2014, the year after he joined CNN.
His interviews with his brother in 2020 should have been an ongoing source of embarrassment for CNN. CNN wanted to milk the ratings — it was so far behind in the ratings! — and it never demonstrated any concern that there was a damaging conflict of interest. Instead, it was just the Cuomo News Network, sharing all the Cuomo family’s jokes and political boasting, with the sound of a charming sitcom like “Everybody Loves Raymond.”
Last June, Chris proclaimed, “I’m wowed by what you did, and more importantly, I’m wowed by how you did it,” he gushed. “Obviously, I love you as a brother; obviously, I’ll never be objective; obviously, I think you’re the best politician in the country.”
Does that sound like a guy who “knows where the line is”? Does anyone at CNN?
Chris also discussed the governor’s sex appeal as leftist celebrities like Cher were ogling him as a “Love Gov” at a time when CNN and the other networks were airing his COVID-19 press conferences live. TV hosts Trevor Noah and Ellen DeGeneres self-identified as “Cuomosexuals.”
“Do you think you are an attractive person now because you’re single and ready to mingle?” the CNN anchor asked. “Do you think that you’re some desirable single person and that this is not just people’s pain coming out of them?”
On CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, host Brian Stelter declared, “This has been a conundrum for CNN that has no perfect answer, no perfect solution.” He reported many (anonymous) CNN employees were supportive of Cuomo. But the perfect solution was to avoid hiring Chris.
This is not a “conundrum.” It’s a fiasco.
There is a more responsible course. Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple slammed Stelter’s defensive crouch of a segment and insisted “CNN needs to commission a report of its own to determine just how its star anchor fit into this sexual harassment pushback effort. What, precisely, did he say in the conference calls?”
The Post reported in May that Chris Cuomo told his brother he should not resign and “strike a defiant tone” toward his accusers. How defiant? Are they all liars? When Chris said, “I am family first, job second,” let’s guess he means that it’s not his job to care about his brother’s accusers or to investigate what they may have suffered from his brother’s groping hands.
Chris Cuomo has no moral authority and no journalistic integrity left. He should resign. But that might be as surprising as his brother’s extremely reluctant resignation.
Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.