CNN suspends Chris Cuomo for helping governor brother fight misconduct allegations

Primetime host removed indefinitely after transcripts reveal how he assisted Andrew Cuomo combat accusations of sexual misconduct

Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, left, and his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, right. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo via AP; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)
Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, left, and his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, right. (Mike Groll/Office of Governor of Andrew M. Cuomo via AP; Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

CNN said Tuesday it had indefinitely suspended primetime anchor Chris Cuomo after the release of legal transcripts that revealed how he helped his brother Andrew, then the governor of New York, combat allegations of sexual misconduct.

At the start of the pandemic, the brothers soared to new heights of popularity: Andrew Cuomo earned praise for his frank daily briefings as the coronavirus ravaged New York, and their live exchanges on CNN were peppered with banter.

But after months of battling claims that he had harassed about a dozen women including former staffers, Andrew Cuomo resigned from office in August ahead of  an expected impeachment trial.

In October, the 63-year-old former governor was charged with a misdemeanor sex crime for forcible touching.

And now, his 51-year-old brother is under scrutiny for his involvement in his brother’s defense.

“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday.

“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”

The CNN anchor pressed sources for information on his brother’s accusers and reported back to the governor’s staff, and was active in helping craft their response to the charges, according to emails and a transcript of his testimony to investigators working for state Attorney General Letitia James. Her office found Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James, at a press conference in New York on Tuesday, August 3, 2021, announces investigators have concluded that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple current and former state government employees. Behind James are attorneys Joon Kim and Anne L. Clark, lead investigators. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)

Cuomo also said he reached out to other journalists to find out whether they were writing stories about his brother, most notably seeking information on what Ronan Farrow of the New Yorker was writing. He acknowledged he didn’t tell CNN he was doing this, and characterized his actions as nothing out of the ordinary for a journalist.

He has said he did nothing to influence his own network’s coverage of the story.

Chris Cuomo previously acknowledged talking to his brother and offering advice when the governor faced harassment charges. But the information released Monday revealed far more details about what exactly Chris Cuomo did.

Cuomo’s program, which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time on weeknights, averaged 1.3 million viewers, narrowly outpacing Anderson Cooper as CNN’s most popular show, according to the Nielsen company. Like many cable newscasts, viewership is down significantly after being swollen during the election year.

CNN News anchor Chris Cuomo, left, and his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo onstage at the 2015 Help USA Hero Awards Dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street on May 28, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jason DeCrow/Invision for HELP USA/AP Images)

The CNN spokesperson said while the network had “understood his need to put family first and job second” in aiding Andrew, it said the transcripts “point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew.”

“As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

The brothers are the sons of former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

On Tuesday, Cuomo’s show was replaced with a second hour anchored by Anderson Cooper. The network’s long-term plan for filling the time slot was not immediately clear.

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