CNN boss is cool with Chris Cuomo for now

AP Photo

Earlier this week, Allahpundit reviewed the fallout (or lack thereof) from the revelation that CNN host Chris Cuomo had been participating in Zoom calls where he offered strategic advice to his embattled brother, the Governor of New York. This was a situation that went far beyond a simple case of “bad optics” for CNN. When you’ve got Brian Stelter saying maybe you should take a little time off without pay, the car is already pretty much in the ditch. But the big question was what Jeff Zucker was going to do about this running embarrassment for his network. Would Cuomo at least receive a suspension to show that the network takes its own credibility seriously if Cuomo won’t take a voluntary leave of absence? The answer to that one came pretty quickly. Zucker has decided there’s no need for Cuomo to go off the air and the apology he already offered (at Zucker’s direction, by the way) was sufficient. So let’s just put all of this unpleasantness behind us and get back to bashing the Republicans in a fair and unbiased fashion, right? (Daily Mail)

CNN President Jeff Zucker said Tuesday that he ordered host Chris Cuomo to apologize on-air for joining strategy session calls with staffers for his brother, the governor of New York, but said that a suspension was not merited.

Responding to growing anger among CNN staffers over the network’s handling of the imbroglio, Zucker held a town hall meeting on Tuesday afternoon saying he understood staffers’ ‘unease’, according to the Daily Beast.

‘He did cross a line,’ Zucker said of Chris Cuomo’s participation in the strategy calls, in which he reportedly urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to be ‘defiant’ in the face of sexual harassment and misconduct claims from numerous women.

Saying that Cuomo “did cross a line” doesn’t seem to carry a lot of weight if crossing that line doesn’t result in any tangible penalties. Reading a prepared “apology” on the air and promising not to offer any coverage or commentary on his brother’s various scandals doesn’t even qualify as a slap on the wrist.

Cuomo has been taking heat from some of his own on-air colleagues. One woman who preferred to remain anonymous called his actions “journalistically and morally immoral.” That’s not an unfair comment, particularly coming from any women on the team. Fredo had basically been telling his older brother to discredit the women who have brought sexual harassment accusations against him. And given all the sexual harassment and assault stories that CNN has to cover, it’s definitely not a good look.

Another colleague reportedly said, “I don’t think there were enough guardrails to prevent this sort of scandal.” If they will pardon my saying, I don’t think we’re talking about a lack of “guardrails” here. There was an obvious way to prevent this sort of implosion available from the beginning. Chris Cuomo started his full-time gig with CNN in February of 2013. At that time his brother had already been the Governor of New York for two years and had occasionally been mentioned as a possible, future presidential contender. Before Cuomo was even shown where the restrooms were at CNN, they could have sat him down and told him that he was being welcomed to the team, but he was absolutely banned from talking about any news stories involving his brother.

Either that didn’t happen or Chris Cuomo just ignored the rules. They let him interview his own brother, for Pete’s sake. If there weren’t enough “guardrails” to stop this situation from turning into a total crap festival, it’s because the leadership at CNN either didn’t erect them or they didn’t say anything when Cuomo crashed into them repeatedly.

Thus far we haven’t seen any backlash from the rest of the talent in CNN’s newsroom aside from a few anonymous quotes given to other outlets. If someone wanted to take a principled stand, particularly among the women, they could just announce that they wouldn’t be doing any segments with Cuomo for the foreseeable future. It’s difficult to imagine Zucker cracking down on them for such an announcement at this point, at least in public anyway.

Jazz Shaw Jun 22, 2021 6:01 PM ET