“There’s a lot to unpack here,” Tucker Carlson says after playing a minute-long recording of this conversation between CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Michael Cohen. Indeed there is, but the biggest part of the baggage doesn’t come up in the segment. The CNN anchor tells Cohen that ABC, his former employer, has begun to ask about “stories” that Cuomo sexually harassed women during his tenure at the network, which Cuomo strenuously denies. “Do I look like the kind of f—ing guy who’s gotta do that?”
“Sure,” Cohen says dryly, “why not?”
“You know, I’m always careful when I talk to media. Do you know how many f—ing phone calls I’ve gotten from people at ABC who say that reporters are calling and lying about things they’ve heard about me, to try to get stories about me when I was at ABC? Guys calling and saying, ‘I heard he was the Charlie Rose of ABC. He used to invite women to a hotel and open his bathrobe.’ Do I look like the kind of f—ing guy who’s gotta do that?” Cuomo said.
“Sure, why not?” Cohen responds.
Cuomo goes on impersonating somebody asking him about the rumors, saying, “‘I have a good source that says he forced one woman to have sex. I just want to know if you’ve ever heard anything like that?'”
“There is no woman!” Cuomo exclaimed. “Women who do work there saying, ‘oh yeah, you know, some of these men,’ naming me with other guys, ‘you know, we bumped into each other once in the elevator, and he put his hand on my shoulder, and he made me really uncomfortable,'” Cuomo said, describing internal allegations against him. “I mean what the f—! It’s a problem. And now … I’m careful with the media, always. I’ve always told you: The media is not your friend.”
As Carlson points out, that sounds suspiciously like Cuomo believes that women sometimes lie about sexual harassment. At the very least, Cuomo is arguing for the benefit of the doubt and the necessity of having accusers carry the burden of proof. Did Cuomo have those same principles when it came to, say, Brett Kavanaugh? Not exactly.
However, Carlson never quite addresses the most obvious questions, which are: where did he get this audio tape? And just how did it end up in the hands of a Fox News anchor? As it happens, Cohen himself asked those same questions, while simultaneously authenticating the recording:
The only people in possession of these recordings are me, @DOJ, @POTUS & Trump Org. I did not give this recording or authorization for its use to @FoxNews or anyone. @POTUS and cronies violated my First amendment rights and now this; all to discredit me and my book. What’s next? pic.twitter.com/ajgmpE9ZoF
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) September 2, 2020
Please note for a moment the chutzpah necessary to complain about Trump revealing secrets in conjunction with Cohen’s latest commercial project to reveal secrets about his former legal client. Still, Cohen has a point, assuming we can trust his assurance that only those entities had the tape. Actually, it may have been floating around for a couple of years, and perhaps more are left to emerge:
But the wild recording between President Donald Trump and his former attorney is just one of many. The Washington Post reported investigators have more than 100 of Cohen’s recordings, a number Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani seemingly confirmed while appearing on CNN Thursday.
The tapes include a host of characters, including journalists, and cover a variety of topics, including some revolved around the president’s business.
There’s also a legal issue about the recordings, one Cuomo raised in 2018 when word of them emerged. Cuomo alluded to a longer conversation with Cohen that he said waa intended to be “off the record,” and that he had no idea that Cohen recorded it. Perhaps Cuomo should have revealed the content of that conversation at the time, embarrassing as it might have been; at least he could have contextualized it first that way.
Unfortunately, Cuomo may have no legal recourse, as New York is a “one party consent” state when it comes to recording conversations. (Also, this sounds like an in-person conversation rather than a phone call, so the wiretap issue would be moot anyway.) Cohen likely doesn’t have any legal recourse either, under the circumstances. Having secretly taped conversations with his friends and clients, it’s going to be tough to stand on principle over the exposure of those recordings now.
One man in particular is passing the popcorn and wondering what CNN does now:
They might have to fire him just for saying, “The media is not your friend.” That’s gonna stick to CNN’s flesh for a while. At some point, CNN has to start asking whether Cuomo and his clown act with his brother is worth the headache.