CNN host Chris Cuomo seems to have done everything he could to keep his brother Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s scandals out of the limelight, though Andrew ultimately resigned Tuesday. Reports indicate Chris continues even now to advise Andrew, but he seems to have been running cover for him the whole time.
Not long ago, Chris was regularly interviewing his brother on his self-named show Cuomo Prime Time, which marked a departure in a long-standing CNN policy that forbade Chris from interviewing Andrew. Because the New York governor’s COVID-19 response was of vital interest and held up as the “gold standard” by not only President Joe Biden, but across the corporate media, the network made an exception to its previous rules. But, as scandal after scandal has rocked Andrew, undercutting the effectiveness of his COVID-19 response and badly damaging his personal character, Chris has once again become mum on his brother’s actions.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) May 21, 2020
Chris joked around during a now-infamous late May 2020 interview featuring a giant cotton swab and a string of jokes about his brother’s nose despite the fact that less than two weeks prior to this interview, Cuomo rescinded his March 25 executive order that required nursing homes to accept recovering COVID-19 positive patients, which resulted in 9,000 recovering COVID-19 patients being forced back into nursing homes, The Associated Press later uncovered.
The Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF) reported as early as May 15, 2020 that the Cuomo administration was undercounting an unknown number of nursing home deaths because the state was not including individuals who died in the hospital after catching COVID-19 in their long-term care facility in their tally of nursing home deaths. At the time, the number of deaths in New York’s nursing homes was about 5,000. Just over a year later, more than 13,000 nursing home residents in the state of New York have died from COVID-19, the DCNF reported. (RELATED: 7 Headlines That Might Have Happened If Andrew Cuomo Were A Republican)
A Feb. 11 report from The New York Post revealed that Cuomo’s secretary and trusted (now former) adviser Melissa DeRosa had admitted to New York Democratic leaders the state intentionally withheld nursing home death data because they feared retaliation from former President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice. This reportedly prompted CNN to resuscitate the corporate policy forbidding Chris from interviewing his brother.
The network had made an “exception” to the 2013 policy because “The early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time,” a CNN spokesperson told the Washington Post. “We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest,” the statement went on to say.
Later in February, a number of women accused the governor of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Lindsey Boylan first claimed she had been sexually harassed “for years” by her former boss in a Dec. 13 tweet. On Feb. 24, Boylan published a Medium post that detailed the times Andrew sexually harassed or assaulted her.
My first experience of workplace sexual harassment was when my mom got her first real office job after graduating from college when I was in high school.
She was so excited to be taken “seriously.” Her bossed isolated her and kissed her. She never had that type of job again.
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) December 13, 2020
Shortly after Boylan went public with her allegations, The New York Times reported that Charlotte Bennett and Anna Ruch both said Andrew had had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted them. He denied the allegations made by the two women in a statement to the The New York Times. After the third woman accused his brother of sexual harassment, Chris broke his silence.
“You are straight with me, I’ll be straight with you,” Chris said to open his March 8 broadcast on CNN. “Obviously, I am aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously, I cannot cover it because he is my brother. 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.”
In the following weeks and months, more women came forward. The barrage of allegations caused Andrew to reach out to his brother Chris for advice on how to respond to these accusations, four people familiar with their communications told The Washington Post.
Chris was reportedly on several conference calls that involved his brother, the governor’s top aide, the governor’s communications team, legal team and other outside advisers, the Post reported. Chris told his brother that he should vehemently deny the allegations, and cited “cancel culture” during the calls, according to the Post.
CNN told The Washington Post that the anchor’s involvement in these conversations were “inappropriate,” but said Chris would not be disciplined.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” CNN’s statement read, according to the Post. “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 anchor Chris Cuomo advised his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and senior members of the governor’s staff on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year by women who had worked with the governor. @jdawsey1 @sarahellison scoop https://t.co/aQpR1Halwh
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) May 20, 2021
“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges,” CNN went on to say. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
Chris himself addressed the Washington Post report on his show May 20. “Remember I told you back in the beginning of March I can’t cover my brother’s troubles, it wouldn’t be fair,” Chris said. “And you got it then and I appreciate you understanding.”
However, Chis argued that the Post report was “no revelation.”
“I have said it publicly and I certainly have never hidden it. I can be objective about just about any topic. But not about my family,” Chris stated. “Like you, I bet, my family means everything to me. And I am fiercely loyal to them. I am family first, job second.”
In the end, Chris did acknowledge that participating in those calls was a mistake, and said it would not happen again.
“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,” he claimed. The Washington Post reported Monday that Chris has, in fact, continued to advise his brother — despite the public apology and promise.
“It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” Chris continued. “I never intended for that. I would never intend for that and I am sorry for that.”
Andrew also defended himself for reaching out to his brother for advice, referring to Chris as his “best friend.”
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced early in August that an independent investigation had concluded the New York governor had sexually harassed 11 women, which led in turn to Andrew’s Tuesday resignation.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women and violated federal and state law,” James stated at the Aug. 3 press conference. “The investigation found that Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
Despite the finding that Andrew’s conduct had violated both federal and state law, Chris had nothing to say about the matter.
“We’re focused on COVID,” Chris stated as he opened his show Aug. 3. “Especially until we get the Delta variant under control.”
Chris’ broadcast, per the reinstated 2013 CNN corporate policy about interviewing his brother, made no mention of the New York attorney general’s press conference. Once Chris’ show was over, CNN Don Lemon covered the findings.