CNN Won’t Discipline Chris Cuomo After He Aided His Brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Amid Harassment Accusations

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CNN is trying to stay out of anchor Chris Cuomo’s latest family affair.

CNN said it had no plans to discipline its top primetime anchor, despite the fact that he provided counsel during staff meetings to his brother, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, while he was in the midst of fending off sexual harassment accusations.

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A report Thursday in The Washington Post revealed that Cuomo, who anchors CNN’s 9 p.m. hour and has been its most-watched anchor for months, took part in sessions earlier this year with Gov. Cuomo, his communications team, attorneys and other advisors. The younger Cuomo, the anchor, raised eyebrows in 2020 when he conducted several interviews with the older Cuomo, the governor, on his CNN program during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Conducting interviews with prominent family members is typically seen as a breach of professional ethics for journalists.

“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother,” CNN said in a statement. “However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”

A spokesperson said no punishment was being contemplated for the anchor.

Rival news outlets have suspended top anchors or taken them off the air for violations of protocol. Fox News Channel in 2019 removed Jeanine Pirro’s popular Saturday program for a period of time in the wake of remarks she made about Minnesota Democrat Ihan Omar, a U.S. representative. The Fox Corp.-owned network never provided a public rationale for doing so. MSNBC suspended both Joe Scarborough and Keith Olbermann in 2010 after they made donations to political candidates – a clear violation of NBC News policies.

Some prominent news organizations have taken pains to separate employees from coverage of relatives who gain traction in the public sphere. At CBS News, former division president David Rhodes kept himself away from editorial decisions that had to do with coverage of his brother, Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser during the Obama administration. In 2019, James Bennet, the former editorial page editor of The New York Times, recused himself from any of his department’s coverage of the run up to the 2020 presidential election after his brother, a Colorado Senator, announced his candidacy.

Cuomo, a veteran of ABC News, has gained traction since coming to CNN in 2013. His pugnacious on-screen demeanor has become a signature element of CNN under current chief Jeff Zucker, He has given anchors more leeway to bring emotion to their news reporting, and anchors like Don Lemon and Brianna Keilar have thrived at the network by offering a more personal reaction to strong stories in the news cycle.

During this Thursday night program, Cuomo tried to explain his position to viewers, noting he routinely put his family ahead of his job. “It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot. I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I am sorry for that,” the anchor said on his program, “Cuomo Prime Time.” He vowed: “It will not happen again.”

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