Hours after he was indefinitely suspended by CNN, journalist Chris Cuomo has reacted to the disciplinary move, calling it an “embarrassing” moment.
“Quick note about the obvious. I’ve been suspended from CNN,” Cuomo began Wednesday at the top of his SiriusXM show, Let’s Get After It with Chris Cuomo. “It hurts to even say it. It’s embarrassing, but I understand it. And I understand why some people feel the way they do about what I did.
“I’ve apologized in the past. I mean it,” he continued. “It’s the last thing I ever wanted to do was compromise any of my colleagues, and do anything but help. I know they have a process that they think is important. I respect that process. So I’m not going to talk about this anymore than that. So for right now, let’s just get after it, and there’s plenty to do on that score.” (The full audio is embedded above.)
Cuomo’s suspension came down on Tuesday, one day after the release of documents by the New York Attorney General’s office that indicated Cuomo used his journalistic sources to gather information on the women accusing his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment. According to the documents, Chris also offered to help the governor’s office prepare its defense and dictated statements for the then-governor to use.
“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,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to Variety on Tuesday. “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.”
It was in May that The Washington Post first reported on Chris’ involvement with his brother’s harassment scandal, revealing that the CNN anchor had participated in strategy calls with Andrew and senior members of his staff regarding how the onetime governor should respond to allegations against him. Though CNN opted not to discipline Chris at that time, the network acknowledged in a statement that “it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff,” and Chris said in an on-air apology that “it will not happen again.”
A subsequent August report by The Washington Post said Andrew was still privately conferring with Chris about the allegations, which sparked a fresh wave of criticism against Chris and CNN. Andrew announced his resignation as governor on Aug. 10, and days later, Chris told his Cuomo Prime Time viewers that although he did urge his brother to resign “when the time came,” he “never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program.”
Separate from the controversy surrounding his brother, Chris was also named in a sexual harassment allegation in September, when veteran TV journalist Shelley Ross claimed that he had groped her buttocks during a going-away party for an ABC colleague in 2005. Shortly after the incident, Chris had emailed Ross with an apology for his behavior, and Ross said in her New York Times essay that she did not want Chris to lose his job at CNN as a result of her coming forward. Rather, she was identifying “an opportunity for him and his employer to show what accountability can look like in the MeToo era.”