Chris Cuomo is the younger brother of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is in the throws of a major sex scandal. While the Governor’s fate will be determined in a court-of-law, the volume of public accusations from several woman forced him to resign not long after he had publicly announced his plan to run for re-election.
When the scandal broke, Chris Cuomo – and CNN – were faced with a dilemma. How could Chris report objectively on a scandal what was the subject of major reports across the news sphere. It was temporarily resolved by Chris’ announcement that he would not report on his brother’s scandal.
That still posed a problem for a network that is trying to crawl out of the ratings cellar. Their prime-time show would have nothing to report or analyze about one of the frontpage stories of the day. In sympathy, Don Lemon – whose show followed Cuomo – became very circumspect in covering Governor Cuomo’s growing scandal. Chris Cuomo and Lemon had been carrying on a television bromance – transfer from Cuomo to Lemon with an exchange of “I love you, bro” signoffs.
As a condition of staying on the air, Chris promised viewers – and assumedly the CNN bosses – that he would not involve himself in his brother’s problems. There were rumors that Chris was helping his brother with response statements, but nothing that caused undue alarm at the network.
That all changed when leaked emails showed Chris was doing a lot more than giving his brother sibling comfort. And he was doing a lot more than assisting with statements.
There was a continuing consultation between the Governor and Chris – and the Governor’s attorney and Chris. There were requests for Chris to use his sources to find out more about the ladies making the accusations – and to check sources to see if there were any more women in the wings. Chris’ response was both cryptic and telling. “Will do,” he replied.
When the emails were made public, the trap door under Chris’s anchor seat sprung open faster than President Biden bolts from a press confrontation. As of this moment, Chris has been “suspended” for an indefinite period. CNN quickly extended Anderson Cooper’s program for another hour.
The only question is whether Chris will eventually be back or whether he will be fired … period. It is a close call.
Other media personalities have fallen from grace. FOX’s Bill O’Reilly lost his primetime spot – replaced by Tucker Carlson. NBC’s Matt Lauer got booted from the popular morning show after being accused of sexual misconduct.
Cuomo could follow the example of NBC’s news anchor Brian Williams. He was suspended for making up stories – usually misplacing himself in the action. After an extended suspension, Williams was resurrected at NBC’s cable offspring, MSNBC, as the host of “The 11th Hour.”
If the Cuomo family’s political stock were listed on Dow Jones, it would have been one of the blue-ribbon investments that crashed on a rash of sell orders. In terms of political capital, the Cuomo name would not even make it on the so-called “penny market” these days.
I imagine propping up Chris would hurt CNN’s ratings even more. And that is the last thing they need. On the other hand, credibility is not one of the news media’s valued assets these days.
So, there ‘tis.