CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been suspended indefinitely by the cable news network in light of new information about how he aided his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, battle sexual harassment allegations that ultimately led to his resignation.
The report comes from our sister site Variety, which includes a statement from a CNN spokesperson: “The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense. The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
The suspension comes after a release of documents by the New York Attorney General’s office on Monday that show that Chris Cuomo used his journalistic sources to gather information on the women accusing his brother Andrew of harassment. He also offered to help the governor’s office prepare its defense and dictated statements for the then-governor to use. At the time, CNN released a statement that “we will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
Also, in a New York Times guest essay published in late September, veteran TV journalist Shelley Ross — who served as Chris Cuomo’s executive producer on ABC’s Primetime Live — alleged that Cuomo sexually harassed her at a going-away party for an ABC colleague in June 2005. Per Ross’ account, Cuomo walked toward her, gave her a “strong bear hug” and squeezed her buttocks with one hand while embracing her. He allegedly said to her, “I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,” at which point she pushed him off her and replied, “No, you can’t,” before leaving the party with her husband, who had witnessed the encounter.
Cuomo sent Ross an email later that night, which was scanned into the Times essay, in which he called himself “ashamed” in the subject line and told her, “[P]ass along my apology to your very good and noble husband… and I apologize to you as well, for even putting you in such a position.”
In her essay, Ross said she did not want Cuomo to lose his job at CNN as a result of her coming forward, but she was instead identifying “an opportunity for him and his employer to show what accountability can look like in the MeToo era.”
“I’m not asking for Mr. Cuomo to become the next casualty in this continuing terrible story. I hope he stays at CNN forever if he chooses,” Ross continued. “I would, however, like to see him journalistically repent: agree on air to study the impact of sexism, harassment and gender bias in the workplace, including his own, and then report on it.”
Cuomo was previously the subject of controversy throughout this past summer, after it was reported that he had advised his brother Andrew on how to respond to allegations of sexual harassment, sexism and the creation of a toxic workplace. Following Andrew’s resignation as governor in August, Chris told his Cuomo Prime Time viewers that he had urged his brother to resign, but denied any conflicts of interest in his role as a news anchor.