CNN has fired the primetime anchor Chris Cuomo for trying to help his brother, the former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, fight accusations of sexual misconduct which resulted in his resignation.
Announcing the firing on Saturday, CNN said “additional information” had come to light.
“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week,” a statement said, “pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense.
“We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review and have terminated him effective immediately. While in the process of that review additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
In a statement reported by the New York Times, Cuomo, 51, said: “This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother.
“So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did … I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work.”
The CNN anchor tested a policy of not covering his brother in early 2020 when, during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic and with New York hard-hit, the two regularly spoke and joked on air.
The scandal which engulfed Andrew Cuomo spread to his younger brother, who acknowledged offering advice when the governor faced the harassment charges that he denied but that ultimately led to his resignation in August.
The New York state attorney general, Letitia James, found that Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. His resignation meant he avoided a likely impeachment trial.
Chris Cuomo was suspended on Tuesday, after the release of documentation collected during James’s investigation of Andrew Cuomo.
The information released by James showed how Chris Cuomo pressed sources for information on his brother’s accusers, reported to the governor’s staff and was active in helping shape responses to the charges.
While Cuomo has said he never tried to influence CNN’s own coverage of his brother, he told investigators about calls to other journalists to find out what information they had about some accusers.
That seemed to conflict with an on-air statement Cuomo gave on CNN following his brother’s resignation in August, when he said: “I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
Cuomo also said he never “attacked, nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward”. According to email transcripts released this week, Cuomo wrote to aides “I have a lead” on one accuser, though it was not clear what he meant.
A veteran TV executive, Shelley Ross, wrote a column for the New York Times in September saying Chris Cuomo groped her at a party 16 years ago, when they both worked for ABC News. Cuomo told the newspaper: “I apologised to her then, and I meant it.”
Calls for CNN to fire Cuomo grew louder this week.
Marissa Hoechstetter, a victims’ rights advocate, tweeted: “As a survivor who has trusted CNN with my story, it is deeply disturbing that Chris Cuomo remains employed.
“His unethical behavior – plus that of anyone giving him any info in the first place – should be disqualifying for a journalist. If they keep him on, they can’t be trusted.”
Charlotte Bennett, an alleged victim of sexual misconduct by Andrew Cuomo, said: “Just like his older brother, Chris Cuomo used his time, network and resources to help smear victims, dig up opposition research, and belittle our credible allegations.
“Anything short of firing Chris Cuomo reflects a network lacking both morals and backbone. Does CNN stand by journalistic integrity, or will it simply excuse his actions because Chris Cuomo drives ratings?”
On Saturday, CNN took action.
The Associated Press contributed to this report