CNN anchor Chris Cuomo apologised for having “inappropriate” talks with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s employees, the cable network said Thursday, though he opted out of on-air coverage of his brother’s sexual assault claims.
According to the Washington Post, Chris Cuomo took part in strategy phone calls with senior staff members for his brother’s sexual assault claims.
According to The Washington Post, Chris Cuomo urged his brother to take a “defiant position” in the face of mounting demands for his resignation. According to two people who were present on one call, Chris Cuomo mentioned “cancel culture” while urging his brother to stand firm in the scandal.
Cuomo discussed the topic on his show Thursday night and apologised to his coworkers, saying he hasn’t covered the claims against his brother and has been “walled off” from CNN’s coverage.
“When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisors that did include some of his staff — I understand why that was a problem for CNN,” he said.
“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. “I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I am sorry for that.”
“Being a journalist and a brother to a politician is… a unique challenge, and I have a unique responsibility to balance those roles,” says @ChrisCuomo regarding reports that he offered advice to his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “It was a mistake.” pic.twitter.com/P0GkglgrYM— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) May 21, 2021
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” a spokesperson for the cable network told NBC News. “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.”
According to CNN, Chris Cuomo admitted that it was “inappropriate to participate in meetings that involved members of the Governor’s team” and that he would not be engaging in future calls. The network would not take any action against the prime-time anchor.
A spokesman for the governor’s office, Richard Azzopardi, told NBC News that Andrew Cuomo, colleagues, and advisers had made “a few phone calls.”
Andrew Cuomo has been accused of abuse by more than a half-dozen women, including staffers. The governor has denied sexually touching anyone, but he has admitted that he may have behaved in ways that made people uncomfortable.
Despite initially apologising for his behaviour, Andrew Cuomo has since fought back, claiming that making others uncomfortable is not abuse.
“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable — that is not harassment,” the governor said last week. “If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
After reporter Rebecca Lewis of City & State New York asked if he’d admit that the motivation behind his supposed harassing remarks to accuser Charlotte Bennett was irrelevant, he made the remark.
The sexual assault and bullying charges against Andrew Cuomo, including Bennett’s, are being investigated by New York Attorney General Letitia James.