CNN journalist Chris Cuomo is facing harsh criticism after it was exposed in a report from The Washington Post that he had advised his older brother, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY), concerning the numerous sexual harassment allegations against him.
The Post reported Thursday that Cuomo “encouraged his brother to take a defiant position and not to resign from the governor’s office,” during strategy sessions with the governor and his staff.
In a piece Thursday, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies slammed Cuomo for breaking basic journalistic standards, calling his behavior “highly inappropriate.”
“Stop and think about what happened here,” wrote Poynter’s senior media writer Tom Jones. “The host of a primetime show on one of the country’s biggest and most influential cable news networks is advising one of the most powerful and influential politicians in this country on how to handle serious sexual misconduct allegations.”
A journalist helps a politician
“At the heart of all this, a journalist is helping a politician,” Jones continued.
Jones also criticized CNN, which acknowledged Cuomo’s behavior was inappropriate but said that he will not be facing any discipline for his actions.
“How do staffers at CNN — especially women — feel about a powerful employee trying to help someone, even if it is his brother, defuse and overcome allegations of disturbing sexual misbehavior?” he wrote.
Cuomo gave a half-hearted apology for his actions in a segment on CNN on Thursday, saying he is “fiercely loyal” to his family, and always puts “family first, job second.”
“How I helped my brother also matters. When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisers, that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again. It was a mistake,” Cuomo said.
Previous conflicts of interest
This isn’t the first time the Cuomo brothers have engaged in behavior that seriously calls into question the journalistic standards at CNN. At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo regularly had his brother on his show to talk about the pandemic and gave him kid-glove treatment.
“As the two brothers often threw playful jabs at each other and joked around while occasionally getting serious about COVID-19, many media critics and viewers pointed out the potential pitfalls of one brother interviewing a brother regularly,” Jones pointed out.
Once it was exposed that the Cuomo administration had covered up the nursing home deaths in New York, the network announced that the governor would no longer appear on Chris’ show and he would not be covering the scandal. “By then, it was too late,” Jones wrote. “The damage was done. Credibility for the network and, especially, Chris Cuomo took a hit.”