In media news today, CNN’s Jake Tapper defends Nancy Pelosi after Sen. Susan Collins knocks speaker for ‘partisan’ Jan. 6 committee, PBS’ Yamiche Alcindor lobbies Biden to extend eviction moratorium, and the Washingtonian attempts to cover for DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s photo scandal
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo pleaded the fifth on his show Tuesday night regarding the controversy of his “Luv Guv” brother, Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was accused by the state’s attorney general earlier in the day of sexually harassing 11 women.
Cuomo, who had awkwardly addressed the family drama on his primetime show in the past, did not address the explosive report released by NY Attorney General Letitia James that outlined the damning findings from its probe into the harassment allegations against his brother, telling viewers “we’re focused on COVID here.”
However, the CNN star himself was also swept up in the AG’s report, which revealed that he took part in drafting a response for the governor to the allegations against him on Feb. 28.
It was revealed earlier this year by The Washington Post that the anchor joined conference calls with top aides to the embattled governor earlier this year as charges of harassment mounted and prompted calls from both sides of the aisle for his resignation. Sources told the paper the younger Cuomo urged his brother to not step down and even invoked “cancel culture,” a talking point the governor used back in March while engaging with reporters.
Chris Cuomo previously apologized to his colleagues for putting them in a “bad spot” and acknowledged he was in a “unique and difficult situation” as the brother of the nation’s most prominent governor while being CNN’s star anchor, but he insisted “I know where the line is.”
The ethical lines, however, appeared to be blurred for the Cuomo family as it was also revealed that the liberal TV host was given “VIP treatment” from the Cuomo administration and was among the lucky few who received coronavirus testing in the early months of the pandemic. While ordinary New Yorkers struggled to get tested, the governor sent a top state physician to his brother’s house in the Hamptons for private examinations, which were prioritized as they were sent to a lab in Albany.
When the governor’s scandals first emerged, Cuomo told his viewers that he “obviously” cannot cover his brother, but that wasn’t the case last year when he invited the New York Democrat nearly a dozen times for chummy interviews where he praised the “Luv Guv’s” leadership during the pandemic. The two of them even performed prop comedy for the pro-Cuomo audience.
While the “Cuomo Prime Time” host skipped over his brother’s latest political woes, he managed to make time on his program to go after one of his favorite targets, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, over his response to the contagious Delta variant.
Following his nightly handoff with his primetime colleague Don Lemon, Lemon immediately kicked off his show by addressing the governor’s scandals.
The AG’s report found CNN’s Cuomo and others were “regularly provided with confidential and often privileged information about state operations and helped make decisions that impacted State business and employees—all without any formal role, duty, or obligation to the State.”
“The common thread among all of these individuals was a proven, personal loyalty to the Governor,” the report stated. “Their inclusion in the deliberations and the significant role they had in decision making reflect how loyalty and personal ties were valued as much, if not more, than any official function or role in State government. And because they did not have any formal position within the Executive Chamber, they could not reasonably have been relied upon to protect its interests as an institution or the interest of its current and former employees (including some who were complainants or witnesses), especially if those interests did not align with the Governor’s personal interests.
“A result of this dynamic is that State employees who are not part of this inner circle of loyalists would rightfully believe—and did believe—that any complaint or allegation about the Governor would be handled by people whose overriding interest is in protecting the Governor, over the interests of any potential complainant, any witness with relevant information that might be damaging to the Governor, or any supervisor whose obligation it was to report allegations of misconduct by the Governor.”
The report concluded “the reliance on loyal confidants regardless of their official role in State government” was one of several key factors in creating an environment “where the Governor’s sexually harassing conduct was allowed to flourish and persist.”
“Whether driven by fear or blinded by loyalty, the senior staff of the Executive Chamber (and the Governor’s select group of outside confidants) looked to protect the Governor and found ways not to believe or credit those who stepped forward to make or support allegations against him,” the report found.
CNN did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Fox News’ David Rutz, Brian Flood contributed to this report.