CNN's Zucker Admits Chris Cuomo 'Mistake' Advising Governor Brother on Sex Scandal Chairman, WarnerMedia New & Sports, President CNN Worldwide Jeff Zucker, Chris Cuomo speak onstage during CNN Experience on March 05, 2020. (Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
By Charles Kim | Wednesday, 26 May 2021 06:15 PM
CNN President Jeff Zucker on Tuesday acknowledged show host Chris Cuomo “made a mistake” when he joined aides of his older brother, embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in “strategy sessions” discussing how the elder Cuomo should handle several accusations of sexual misconduct, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Zucker was speaking at a town hall meeting with employees covering a range of topics including his future at the network considering the upcoming merger with the network’s parent company WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc.
According to the report, Zucker acknowledged the discontent of CNN employees who felt Cuomo’s actions were “a conflict of interest” for the journalist and the network.
“I am not surprised that Chris had conversations with his brother,” Mr. Zucker said in the report. “Who wouldn’t? But he did cross the line by doing it with his brother’s aides present.”
The younger Cuomo admitted the “mistake” on the air, telling his audience “it will not happen again.”
“It was a mistake because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” he said.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chris Cuomo had not been allowed to cover his governor brother, but that changed once Gov. Cuomo’s national profile grew through daily press briefings during the height of the crisis, which eventually earned the elder Cuomo an Emmy award and a multi-million-dollar book deal about how he handled things.
New York was one of the hardest hit areas in the country with more than 2 million cases and 54,000 deaths statewide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chris hosted the governor on several episodes of his nightly show during that time.
As the pandemic eased, Gov. Cuomo first faced criticism about his executive orders that sent older COVID patients from the hospital back to nursing homes where the disease spread and killed an estimated 9,000 seniors, according to published reports.
Then, several women, including some staffers, came forward with stories of sexual harassment by the politician.
Gov. Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing in either instance.
Both cases are being investigated by New York Attorney General Letitia James.
In the wake of the scandals, CNN reinstated its ban on Chris from covering his older brother.
According to The Washington Post, it was during this period that Chris was taking part in advisory calls with his brother and members of the governor’s staff where he advised the governor not to resign and to “take a defiant position.”
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” the network said in a statement to the Post. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother. However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.”