The Corner


What Is a Fireable Offense at CNN?

(Brian Snyder/Reuters)

What if one of your top stars helps his powerful brother cover up a botched COVID response by obsequiously kibbitzing around with him during the outbreak of the deadliest pandemic in a century rather than asking useful questions, as Chris Cuomo did with his brother, New York governor Andrew Cuomo? What if Andrew sends the New York Department of Health out to Chris’s posh Southampton home to give his family special treatment even as he refuses to cover the fact that New York is sending the elderly into death traps? Nope?

What if Chris stages a fake coronavirus quarantine-emergence video for his gullible audience — even after receiving special treatment from the New York Department of Health and ignoring the nursing home deaths? And what if he participates in a communications-strategy call to help his powerful brother deal with the litany of sexual-harassment claims made against him even as the story is being covered by your network?

While it’s certainly understandable that a man feels compelled to help his family, it is appalling that CNN allows that person to not only keep pretending to be an objective journalist but keep spreading falsehoods about other governors and politicians. But there’s been a lot of ethical malleability over at CNN; lots of bananas and few apples. Or is it the other way around? This is a network that feels comfortable hiring John Harwood, a reporter caught soliciting questions from the DNC to ask Republican candidates before a presidential debate, but fires commentator Jeffery Lord for making a bad joke. This is the network that elevated Michael Avenatti so he could smear Supreme Court justices as rapists without evidence, but fires Rick Santorum for making a crude historical observation. It is the network that not only ran a slew of unexplained botched scoops and features documented liars such as James Clapper and John Brennan as experts on decorum and democracy. If you want to hear Dan Rather’s thoughts on journalism, CNN is for you.

Being a morally flawed person, of course, doesn’t necessarily prohibit one from being an effective journalist, but no serious outlet would allow a man who reportedly pressured his pregnant mistress — the daughter of a one-time CNN colleague — into getting an abortion to take the role of zealous abortion advocate on their station. And yet, the mind-numbingly partisan banalities of Jeffrey Toobin were a regular feature of CNN long before his onanistic mishap. And, I guess, in that context, getting caught masturbating on a New Yorker staff Zoom meeting isn’t really that big of a deal.


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