Skip the investigation and fire Chris Cuomo?

(CNN via AP)

With Andrew Cuomo supposedly on his way out the door, things should be returning to normal in New York now, right? (Well… except for the sexual harassment lawsuits and possible criminal trials, anyway.) But not everyone is ready to put the entire Cuomo family circus saga behind us just yet. At the New York Post, pop culture editor Maureen Callahan suggests that only half of the job has been accomplished. Invoking the phrase “one down, one to go,” Callahan proposes that with the elder Cuomo brother removed from power, the younger brother needs to be removed from his media perch immediately. But what new accusations can be made against Chris Cuomo at this point, assuming that any are required to take such action?

One down. One to go.

Now that Andrew Cuomo has resigned, his brother, Chris, must be next.

They are, after all, both guilty of gross ethics violations.

Before his “long-planned vacation” this week, it has been positively Orwellian to watch, night after night, CNN’s highest-rated primetime host blatantly ignore this huge, developing bombshell of a story, simply because he’d rather not — while informing upper management that he would continue to advise his brother, who also faces criminal charges and civil lawsuits.

Callahan goes on to point out that in addition to the gross ethics violations being observed, the younger Cuomo plans to continue to advise his older brother in his upcoming legal travails because Andrew Cuomo is “still in crisis.” This, in the author’s view, adds up to sufficient cause for CNN to give him the boot.

To be clear, I’m no fan of Chris Cuomo. I don’t believe I’ve ever watched his evening show. All of the interviews he was allowed to do with the Governor last year were, at a minimum, embarrassing to watch and they at least suggested some lack of journalistic integrity. But at this same time, this is an issue I wrote about just yesterday and discussed with Ed Morrissey on his show later that day. If CNN wants to fire Cuomo, that’s entirely up to them. Nobody is entitled to a job.

But if fault must be found, how much of it should be dumped on Cuomo’s shoulders and how much should be aimed at CNN’s upper management, including Jeff Zucker? After all, as Callahan herself notes, Cuomo only promised that he wouldn’t consult with any other elected officials except Andrew Cuomo and CNN apparently agreed to that condition. At this point, his brother is the only one we know that he’s talking to, so he’s not violating the agreement he had with his employer. As for all of the horrible, fawning interviews he conducted with the Governor, somebody had to approve those spots, right? And CNN certainly didn’t seem to mind the ratings he was bringing in with those segments back when Andrew Cuomo was being described as the “shadow president” in the fight against COVID and a possible, dark-horse presidential candidate. Firing him now could wind up making Zucker and company look awfully hypocritical, couldn’t it?

The author goes on to point out that the substance of the advice Chris Cuomo gave to the Governor – suggesting he should stay “strong” and discredit his accusers – speaks to his own attitude toward women. That charge might carry a bit more weight than the previous points. If that was the approach CNN took, claiming that Cuomo was a traitor to the Me Too movement and disrespectful toward women, they would likely get a pass from the large, liberal wing of their remaining audience. But yet again, an honest observer would have to find themselves wondering what took them so long to reach that decision. It’s not as if we just learned about his private counseling sessions with his brother yesterday.

The one point that Callahan doesn’t bring up but was pointed out by Ed Morrissey yesterday, was the issue of Chris Cuomo (along with other family members and staffers) being repeatedly prioritized for COVID testing at the beginning of the pandemic when test kits were still as scarce as hen’s teeth. Ed argued that such preferential treatment from the governor would qualify as a contribution or donation, even if it wasn’t monetary in nature. And such gifting needs to be disclosed to the network to avoid ugly questions of ethics. Personally, I think that might be the best argument for firing him. But yet again, we’re talking about a scandal that has been known for many, many months. CNN clearly didn’t have a problem with it when the news first broke, so the optics will be fairly bleak if they invoke that scandal now as an excuse to fire him. Perhaps the people who really need to be heading to the unemployment line are his supervisors. (Zucker is out at the end of the year anyway.)