CNN anchor Chris Cuomo participated in strategy calls advising his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on how to handle the sexual harassment allegations made against the governor earlier this year, according to a new report.
Chris Cuomo reportedly joined a series of conference calls with his brother’s top aide, communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers, according to the Washington Post.
The cable news anchor helped advise his brother as more and more women claimed the governor had made inappropriate comments or touched them without their permission.
Chris Cuomo told the governor to take a defiant position and not to resign from office, the report says. He reportedly cited “cancel culture” as a reason to not back down in light of the growing scandal.
CNN said in a statement that Chris Cuomo’s involvement in the strategy session was an “inappropriate” mistake.
“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 Washington 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,” the statement added. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
CNN said Cuomo will not be disciplined.
Aides to the governor defended Chris Cuomo’s involvement in the calls, saying he was part of an informal effort to support his brother amid the harassment scandal.
“There were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor.
Andrew Cuomo has faced a number of scandals in recent months, having been accused of sexual misconduct by at least nine women. He has also come under fire for his administration’s efforts to conceal the total coronavirus death toll in New York’s nursing homes.
Though he is the subject of investigations by state lawmakers and the state attorney general, he has refused to resign.
Cuomo has denied the allegations and issued a lackluster apology in which he said he was sorry if he had made some women feel uncomfortable. However, last week he claimed that, “If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
Chris Cuomo had his brother on his show numerous times in spring 2020 while New York was the country’s worst COVID-19 hotspot. However, he later remained notably quiet about the allegations against the governor when they surfaced earlier this year.
“Obviously, I am aware of what is going on with my brother,” he said on his show on March 1, after a third accuser came forward. “And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so. I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just want to tell you that.”
Though Chris Cuomo had been prohibited from reporting on stories related to his brother when he joined the network in 2013, CNN claimed that last spring, as the pandemic began, was an unprecedented time and that allowing the pair to speak about the virus was of significant human interest.