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Chris Cuomo Addresses Role In Brother's Resignation On CNN

Chris Cuomo
Chris Cuomo speaks on CNN

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be leaving office in a week when he resigns in disgrace. But his younger brother’s job status seems secure, even after Chris Cuomo found himself wrapped up in the damaging report that led to the governor’s ouster.

CNN primetime anchor Chris Cuomo has had a complicated relationship, at least on TV, with his older brother, the scion of a political dynasty.

After complaints from journalism ethics watchdogs, CNN stopped him from interviewing his brother, only to briefly relent for jocular sessions during the height of the Democrat’s popularity last year, when he was seen as a national leader during the pandemic.

Then came the report from state Attorney General Tish James’ office accusing the third-term governor of a pattern of sexual harassment and overseeing a toxic workplace.

On CNN, Chris Cuomo didn’t mention the story, focusing instead on the coronavirus and national politics.

The investigation confirmed reports from the spring that the younger Cuomo had put himself in a tough spot for a journalist, though: he was advising the governor, along with others in the inner circle, about how to respond to the sexual harassment claims, and went as far as helping draft an apologetic statement for Andrew Cuomo to read in March.

On Monday night, Chris Cuomo finally addressed viewers about the situation as he returned for the first time since the governor announced he would be stepping down August 24th – a decision the younger brother says he ultimately encouraged.

“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,” he said.

Cuomo says he tried to be supportive of his brother, and rejected the notion that he was an advisor to the governor.

“Everyone knows you support your family,” Cuomo said. “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. 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 have to be held to account, and I can’t do that. I said point blank that I can’t be objective when it comes to my family.

Cuomo also claimed it wasn’t a conflict of interest to be working on the governor’s p.r. strategy behind the scenes while hosting a nightly news show:

“I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program,” Cuomo said. “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. And as you know, back in May, when I was told to no longer communicate with brother’s aides in any group meetings, I acknowledged it was a mistake, I apologized to my colleagues, and I stopped, and I meant it.”

No word yet on how Cuomo might cover incoming Governor Kathy Hochul.

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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