In media news today, a CIA analyst bashes MSNBC for supporting Biden’s Afghanistan speech, CNN’s Chris Cuomo addresses his brother’s resignation and defends his conduct as an anchor, and media pundits slam Biden for immediately returning to Camp David after his Afghanistan address
CNN’s Chris Cuomo returned from vacation on Monday night to appear on the liberal network for the first time since his big brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., announced he would resign amid a sexual harassment scandal that has put CNN’s journalism ethics under a microscope.
CNN allowed its embattled 9 p.m. host to address the situation after an on-again, off-again ban that prevented Cuomo from covering his sibling when times were tough, but allowed it when the older Cuomo brother was celebrated as a hero of the COVID pandemic. The CNN host explained that he “tried to do the right thing,” but some critics feel his comments missed the mark and others want an independent outside investigator to thoroughly review the conduct of CNN management and the network’s most-watched star.
While Chris Cuomo doesn’t bear responsibility for his brother’s alleged sexual misconduct, he’s under fire over his decision to advise him and his top aides, and even draft a statement to respond to the allegations, all while anchoring his primetime program.
“This classic dilemma continues to be one about conflict of interest, and, as the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics code states, those conflicts of interest can be real or perceived,” University of North Carolina ethics professor Lois A. Boynton told Fox News.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo returned from vacation on Monday night to appear on the liberal network for the first time since his big brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, announced he planned to step down.
“In this instance, it not just Chris Cuomo making a statement about how he has dealt with the conflict of interest, it’s also how the viewers perceive both Chris Cuomo’s and CNN’s actions in addressing the reality and perceptions of this conflict of interest,” Boynton said.
Cuomo laid low for several days after his brother stunned the political world by announcing his resignation just one week after New York Attorney General Letitia James released her damning report that outlined sexual harassment allegations from 11 women. The report also revealed the CNN anchor was part of a team of unpaid, highly trusted loyalists to the governor who participated in strategy sessions with top aides to combat the governor’s accusers. The “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor even helped draft a statement for his big brother.
Boynton noted that the SPJ code of ethics calls on journalists to “avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.” The situation reminds Boynton of what plagued journalist Maria Shriver, who was married to then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“She took an extended leave of absence from her position with NBC News in 2004, acknowledging the conflict of interest created by having two high-profile positions: as first lady to the California governor and as a news correspondent,” Boynton said. “Similarly, Chris Cuomo and CNN executives must weigh the effect of this extended and high-profile conflict of interest and its impact on their credibility.”
It remains unclear if CNN’s Cuomo will be able to fairly cover politicians who publicly called for his brother to step down. While Boynton noted that conflicts of interest can be “real or perceived,” Media Research Center vice president Dan Gainor was among the viewers who feel the CNN host has lost trust and respectability.
“Somebody tell the Emmy folks they sent their propaganda award to the wrong Cuomo. Clearly, Chris deserved it,” Gainor told Fox News. “He claims he ‘never influenced’ CNN’s coverage of his family. That’s an outright lie, as evidenced every single time his brother was on his show.”
Gainor felt Cuomo wasn’t honest in his “faux apology” he offered on Monday.
“He claimed ‘I’m not an advisor’ for his brother, yet that’s precisely the role he played. The Washington Post reported that people said, ‘The cable news anchor encouraged his brother to take a defiant position and not to resign from the governor’s office,’” Gainor continued. “Even now, he’s won’t report the truth. And CNN stands behind him.”
CNN allowed Chris Cuomo to interview his brother multiple times during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This will be my final word on it,” Cuomo said at the conclusion of his show on Monday.
However, Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson doesn’t think the Cuomo family saga is over for CNN and called for an independent probe.
“Chris purported to close the book on it all,” Jacobson told Fox News. “But the book needs to be open.”
Jacobson said CNN host’s “melodramatic statement about his coverage of his brother the Governor missed the point that there was a conflict long before the sexual harassment scandals surfaced,” specifically when the siblings conducted playful of on-air conversations masquerading as interviews during the early months of the pandemic.
“Chris gave Andrew softball interviews when Andrew’s COVID star was shining and was tantamount to free advertising,” Jacobson said. “CNN should hire an independent outside investigator to thoroughly review the conduct of Chris and CNN management, and release the report to the public. Only then can the book be closed.”
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.