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Chris Cuomo Calls Out Former Colleagues Don Lemon, Jake Tapper And Jeffrey Toobin In $125 Million Lawsuit Against CNN

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo filed a demand for arbitration Wednesday against his former employer, asking for over $100 million in damages after being publicly fired from his top hosting spot in December 2021.

Cuomo is suing CNN for $125 million, which includes the remaining salary outlined in his contract and future wages the host would have received had he not been let go, according to Deadline.

Former CNN President Jeff Zucker fired Cuomo after previously suspending him for his involvement in helping his brother, embattled former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid sexual harassment allegations.

“Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million, which includes not only the remaining salary owed under the Agreement, but future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement,” the demand stated.

Cuomo hired attorneys from Freedman + Taitelman LLP and Clayman Rosenberg Kirshner & Linder LLP to represent him in his case against his former employer, the lawsuit shows.

His attorneys say that $15 million of the $125 million is to pay Cuomo’s remaining salary under his contract. Cuomo expects no less than $100 million in “consequential damages” from CNN, according to the filing.

Cuomo claims in his lawsuit that CNN executives knew and actively helped advise his brother, former Gov. Cuomo. (RELATED: REPORT: Chris Cuomo Took Down Jeff Zucker Amid Bitter Battle Over His Firing)

“The decision to terminate Cuomo constitutes an utterly unjustifiable breach of his Employment Agreement,” the filing stated. “CNN, including Zucker and Gollust, knew of Cuomo’s role as a confidant and sounding board to his brother, and the details of his interactions with Gov. Cuomo and his staff, long before the transcripts of the NYAG investigation were publicly disclosed.”

Cuomo also highlighted CNN’s willingness to overlook other hosts’ “flagrant breach of journalistic ethics,” like Don Lemon, Jeffrey Toobin, and Jake Tapper, according to the filing.

Cuomo’s lawsuit argued that Lemon broke journalistic ethics when he texted with convicted actor Jussie Smollett to warn him about the Chicago Police being skeptical of his story.

“Lemon had covered Smollett’s accusations and his subsequent investigation and prosecution, so intervening in the ongoing investigation by texting Smollett was an inexcusable breach of ethics. Yet CNN did nothing; Lemon was not disciplined in any way,” the filing stated.

Cuomo’s lawsuit also highlighted CNN’s decision not to discipline Jeffrey Toobin, CNN’s chief political analyst, after a very public incident where he allegedly exposed himself during a video meeting among other top CNN talent.

“Despite this sordid act of sexual harassment, CNN took no disciplinary action against Toobin,” the lawsuit stated. “Instead, CNN permitted Toobin to take a seven-month ‘hiatus’ to ‘deal with a personal issue.’ CNN later allowed Toobin to return to work without even issuing a public apology.”

Jake Tapper was also called out in Cuomo’s lawsuit for giving “advice in a phone call, text messages, and direct Twitter messages” to Republican U.S. Congressional candidate Sean Parnell about not running against Democratic Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb.

“As long as CNN’s ratings would not be hurt, Zucker and Gollust were more than willing to overlook major transgressions by CNN personalities such as Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, or even to engage in blatant misconduct themselves,” the filing read.

CNN host Brian Stelter warned in February that Chris Cuomo wasn’t going to go out quietly after being fired so publicly.

“[Chris Cuomo] was fired and there were reports that he wasn’t going to get paid the millions of dollars that were going to be on the remainder of his contract,” Stelter said. “So, as a source said to me earlier today, he was trying to burn the place down. He was going to court trying to burn the place down and claiming that he had incriminating information about Zucker and Gollust.”

Zucker resigned on Feb. 3 after announcing he failed to disclose a relationship with CNN chief marketing officer AllisonGollust.