CNN’s embattled anchor Chris Cuomo refrained from addressing his own sexual harassment scandal on Friday’s broadcast of “Cuomo Prime Time.”
Just weeks after Cuomo’s brother, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was forced to resign following a sexual misconduct investigation that was conducted by New York Attorney General Letitia James, the liberal TV host faced an accusation from a veteran TV producer. Shelley Ross alleged in a New York Times guest essay that Chris Cuomo had grabbed her buttock at an event in 2005 when the two of them worked at ABC News.
Ross even included an email Cuomo had sent to her at the time, apologizing. Cuomo reiterated his apology to his former boss in a statement to the Times.
But despite his show using the catchphrase “Let’s get after it,” Cuomo did not get after it Friday, keeping his viewers in the dark about his own inappropriate behavior.
He did make time, however, to address another ABC News controversy: the chaos on “The View” after co-hosts Sunny Hostin and Ana Navarro were forced to leave the set during the show after testing positive for the coronavirus just moments before they were set to interview Vice President Kamala Harris.
Throughout the year, Cuomo went silent on various developments of the scandals plaguing his brother, which went far beyond the sexual misconduct allegations. However, he hit multiple boiling points when he was forced to address the governor’s political woes.
“Obviously I’m aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother,” Cuomo told his viewers back in March. “Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
“I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that,” he added at the time.
Then in May, the “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor was forced to issue a mea culpa after it was reported he joined strategy sessions with Andrew Cuomo’s team to combat the then-governor’s accusers.
“I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family. Those of you who watch this show get it. Like you, I bet, my family means everything to me. And I am fiercely loyal to them. I’m family first, job second,” Chris Cuomo said. “But being a journalist and a brother to a politician is unique and a unique challenge and I have a unique responsibility to balance those roles. It’s not always easy. People can say and write what they want, but I want you to know the truth. How I helped my brother also matters. When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisers that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again.”
Finally, after Gov. Cuomo announced his resignation, the CNN host returned from his supposedly pre-planned vacation to address his brother’s downfall.
“My brother, as you know, resigned as governor of New York and will be stepping down next week,” Cuomo somberly told his viewers. “There are a lot of people feeling a lot of hurt and a lot of pain right now. And my hope is that ultimately, everyone involved can get to a better place, that some higher good will be served in all of this.”
“As for me, I’ve told you it’s never easy being in this business and coming from a political family, especially now. 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 said. “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. I also said back then that a day would come when he would have to be held to account and I can’t do that. 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.”
Cuomo assured his viewers, “I’m not an adviser, I’m a brother,” though he later confirmed the previous reporting that he urged his brother to resign.
“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. “There are critics saying things about me, many unsupported but know this, my position has never changed. I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program. I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family. As you know, back in May when I was told to no longer communicate with my brother’s aides in group meetings, I stopped and I meant it.”
“It was a unique situation being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media. I tried to do the right thing, and I just want you all to know that. As I’ve said, we have rules here at CNN that prevent me from reporting on my brother. They remain in place and will continue to. Tonight, I simply wanted to address something that given what’s happened, I just felt it needed to be said. This will be my final word on it, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so,” Cuomo added.
The new allegation against the CNN anchor was foreshadowed in a leaked audiotape obtained by “Tucker Carlson Tonight” in September 2020 of comments he made to ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen about his days at ABC News.
“Do you know how many f—ing phone calls I’ve gotten from people at ABC who say that reporters are calling and lying about things they heard about me to try to get stories about me when I was at ABC? Guys calling and saying, ‘I heard he’s the Charlie Rose of ABC, used to invite women to the hotel and open up his bathrobe.’ Do I look like the kind of f—ing guy who’s gotta do that?” Cuomo said.
“Sure. Why not?” Cohen replied with a chuckle.