‘Definitely Awkward For CNN’: Brian Stelter Says Journalistic ‘Ethics’ Don’t Cover The Cuomos


Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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CNN anchor Brian Stelter said Tuesday that journalistic ethics did not really cover the situation between the outgoing Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

Stelter spoke with CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert about the Cuomos and how CNN had addressed the fact that one of their most popular anchors had such close ties to the subject of a major news story and political scandal. (RELATED: Why Hasn’t Chris Cuomo Resigned From CNN? The Answer Is Simple)


Colbert broached the subject by bringing up a New York Times (NYT) report that said Chris Cuomo had been advising his brother up to the week he announced his resignation.

“Has that created any conflict over at CNN behind closed doors? Are people mad at him?” Colbert asked.

Stelter said that there were some who were unhappy with Cuomo and confirmed the report, saying that he had a source who had independently corroborated the NYT story.

“Is your source Chris Cuomo?” Colbert asked, prompting laughter from the audience.

“It is not,” Stelter replied. “You gotta have boundaries, you gotta draw lines.”

“Why? He doesn’t,” Colbert shot back.

Stelter went on to argue that, while he couldn’t speak for Gov. Cuomo, he believed that Chris Cuomo did set boundaries. He gave several examples of those boundaries — which were actually set for Cuomo by CNN after the network learned weeks earlier that he had been speaking not only with his brother but with his brother’s political aides to advise them on how to handle the sexual harassment claims against him.

Colbert then pressed Stelter on the fact that Chris Cuomo had stopped talking about his brother on the air the minute the scandal-ball had started rolling — but had not had any trouble talking about him and giving him a platform on the show when he was being held up as an example of how to handle the coronavirus pandemic in the early days.

“I think it’s really complicated,” Stelter said.

“It seems like an odd conflict of rules,” Colbert continued.

“It is an odd conflict,” Stelter agreed. “But I don’t think if we open up the journalism ethics book, there’s no page for this. It’s the craziest set of circumstances you can imagine, right? A governor and a brother, both in these high-profile jobs … This was definitely awkward for CNN, though.”

Stelter concluded by saying that while there were some at CNN who were angry with Cuomo and others who understood that he couldn’t choose who his family members were, the network’s ultimate goal was to cover the story just like any other network would.