By:
August 4, 2021

Once again, CNN is facing uncomfortable questions about prime-time host Chris Cuomo in the wake of all the news involving his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The problem is that Chris admittedly was part of the team that advised Andrew when the allegations that Andrew had sexually harassed women were going public. And while CNN said at the time that his actions were “inappropriate” and he apologized, Chris was not disciplined.

Chris said back in May that he was going to recuse himself from covering his brother and this story, and so it was no surprise (although certainly awkward) that he didn’t address the story on his show Tuesday night. But recusing himself now and back in May doesn’t erase the knowledge that he helped advise his brother against allegations that the New York attorney general now says are credible. In fact, Chris’ name came up in the attorney general’s report.

Here’s exactly what I wrote back when this story first came to light: “We’re talking about serious allegations of sexual harassment. How do staffers at CNN — especially women — feel about a powerful employee trying to help someone, even if it is his brother, defuse and overcome allegations of disturbing sexual misbehavior? How do the women who made these allegations feel about a high-profile cable news network personality trying to help the man accused of such awful things? How about the citizens of New York?”

And I will now add: how about CNN viewers?

This isn’t blaming Chris for Andrew’s actions. This is blaming Chris for Chris’ actions. Advising his brother is something that is going to be hard to forget, especially when Chris is reporting on similar accusations against other public figures.

One unnamed CNN staffer told BuzzFeed News’ Julia Reinstein, “I think that, as journalists, it’s our responsibility to act in the most responsible possible way, not only to maintain journalistic integrity, but also for the public to regain trust in journalism and television news. And the fact that Chris Cuomo wasn’t fired over his inappropriate conflict of interest in actively affecting a news story is not only irresponsible of CNN, but also a disgrace to journalism.”

This piece originally appeared in The Poynter Report, our daily newsletter for everyone who cares about the media. Subscribe to The Poynter Report here.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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