Saturday, December 4, 2021

CNN Fires Chris Cuomo

CNN said it has fired anchor Chris Cuomo after an investigation into his efforts to help his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to accusations of sexual misconduct, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement Saturday, CNN said it had hired a law firm to investigate Chris Cuomo’s conduct after newly released records by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James showed the anchor had taken a greater role in the defense of Andrew Cuomo than was previously known.

The law firm compared the records released by the New York attorney general’s office with Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements and conversations he had with CNN employees about his role in Andrew Cuomo’s defense, according to a person familiar with the matter. The firm found gaps between Chris Cuomo’s statements and the records released by Ms. James’s office and concluded that CNN had cause to fire Chris Cuomo, the person said.

CNN President Jeff Zucker called Chris Cuomo earlier Saturday to fire him, the person said.

Chris Cuomo said in a statement on Twitter Saturday afternoon this wasn’t how he had wanted his time at CNN to end, and thanked his co-workers. “I owe them all and I will miss that group of special people who did really important work,” he said.

CNN may investigate new information that came to light during the review of Chris Cuomo’s conduct, the person familiar with the matter said.

“Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate,” CNN said in its statement.

On Monday, Ms. James’s office released new records that showed Chris Cuomo checked with sources to find out if stories about his brother’s accusers were forthcoming and gave detailed feedback on his brother’s statements to the press.

CNN, a unit of AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia, said Monday that the “thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits” released by Ms. James’s office deserved “a thorough review and consideration.” A day later, the network said Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely. “These documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” a CNN spokesman said at the time.

The records released Monday by Ms. James’s office showed Chris Cuomo texted one of his brother’s former advisers, Melissa DeRosa, telling her he had “a lead on the wedding girl” shortly after the New York Times published a report that quoted a woman who said Andrew Cuomo touched her inappropriately at a wedding. It couldn’t be learned whether Chris Cuomo was referring to that woman.

The records also include an interview with Chris Cuomo conducted by investigators in which the anchor said he contacted other journalists to figure out whether stories about Andrew Cuomo’s conduct were in the works.

Chris Cuomo’s exit from CNN leaves a hole in the network’s crucial prime-time programming block. CNN on Friday said anchor Michael Smerconish would temporarily fill in for Chris Cuomo next week, but no permanent replacement has been named for the network’s highly rated hour.

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