The CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo supplied public-relations recommendation to his brother, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, after a sequence of sexual harassment allegations threatened the governor’s political profession earlier this 12 months, an uncommon breach of conventional obstacles between lawmakers and journalists.
CNN stated on Thursday that the conversations had been “inappropriate” and that Chris Cuomo would chorus from any extra comparable discussions with the governor’s workers. However the community stated it might take no disciplinary motion towards the anchor, whose program was CNN’s highest-rated present within the first quarter of the 12 months.
The episode has — as soon as once more — raised questions on Chris Cuomo’s capacity to host a flagship cable information program whereas his brother is a key determine in a number of main political tales. In addition to the harassment allegations from a number of ladies who labored on his workers, Governor Cuomo has confronted criticism for obscuring the quantity of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing properties. Final 12 months, earlier than the scandals grew to become information, Governor Cuomo commanded a nationwide viewers together with his every day briefings on the pandemic.
Governor Cuomo’s workplace stated on Thursday that Chris Cuomo had joined a number of technique calls with the governor and a few of his high advisers, confirming an earlier report by The Washington Put up. “There have been a couple of cellphone conversations, with buddies and advisers giving the governor recommendation,” stated Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Governor Cuomo.
Chris Cuomo apologized to viewers and his colleagues at first of Thursday’s present for the calls with the governor’s workers, saying: “It is not going to occur once more. It was a mistake.” However he additionally defended himself, saying that he “after all” gave recommendation to his brother and that he was “household first, job second.”
“I do know the place the road is,” he stated of balancing being a journalist and having a politician as a brother. “I can respect it and nonetheless be there for my household, which I have to.”
Earlier this 12 months, CNN barred Chris Cuomo from collaborating in its information protection of the harassment allegations lodged towards his brother, who has denied any wrongdoing.
“Chris has not been concerned in CNN’s intensive protection of the allegations towards Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” CNN stated in a press release. “Partially as a result of, as he has stated on his present, he might by no means be goal. But additionally as a result of he typically serves as a sounding board for his brother. Nevertheless, it was inappropriate to have interaction in conversations that included members of the governor’s workers, which Chris acknowledges.”
“Cuomo Prime Time,” which airs at 9 p.m. on the East Coast, is a information and commentary hour that includes its namesake’s colourful monologues and jousting interviews with visitors. In cable information, ethics guidelines for commentators are sometimes looser than these for reporters. However providing strategic counsel to a high-profile politician is frowned upon. MSNBC, as an illustration, stopped paying the presidential historian Jon Meacham final 12 months after he helped write speeches for Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was then a candidate for president.
A number of of Fox Information’s opinion hosts actively suggested President Trump throughout his administration; Sean Hannity even appeared with Mr. Trump at a boisterous marketing campaign rally. However CNN’s management typically criticized Fox Information for these blurred strains, with Jeff Zucker, the CNN president, describing the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox as “state-run TV.”
After Chris Cuomo joined CNN in 2013, he principally avoided interviewing his brother on tv. (One early exception led to some backlash.) That modified final 12 months, after Governor Cuomo’s coronavirus updates grew to become a nationwide phenomenon. The brothers engaged in prolonged prime-time interviews concerning the emotional burdens of the pandemic. Viewers had been riveted, particularly after Chris Cuomo examined optimistic for the coronavirus and commenced talking together with his brother from isolation in a basement.
CNN leaned into the second. “You get belief from authenticity and relatability and vulnerability,” Mr. Zucker instructed The New York Occasions final 12 months. “That’s what the brothers Cuomo are giving us proper now.”
The duo’s on-air enchantment waned after Governor Cuomo started going through criticism about New York State’s response to the coronavirus. Reviews additionally emerged this 12 months that Chris Cuomo was among the many governor’s family and friends members who obtained particular entry to government-run coronavirus testing amenities, together with a police escort for samples in order that they could possibly be rapidly processed.
On the time, a CNN spokesman defended the host, arguing that Mr. Cuomo was sick with the virus and “turned to anybody he might for recommendation and help, as any human being would.”
Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.