Chris Cuomo finally talks about not talking about his brother

AP Photo

Chris Cuomo’s show on CNN last night ended with a segment that some people had apparently been clamoring for, though why they would is beyond me. After disappearing on vacation for a week, he returned to the air and finally addressed the scandals leading to his brother Andrew’s impending resignation as Governor of New York. Or to be more accurate, he addressed the reason that he hadn’t been addressing those things and probably wouldn’t be in the future, either. But even that wasn’t entirely true, because he managed to drop a couple of significant hints about what’s been going on between the siblings as all of this drama played out. The bottom line, however, was that he hadn’t been talking about all of this on the air because he just wasn’t allowed to. (NY Post)

Chris Cuomo on Monday night finally broke his on-air silence about his brother’s sexual harassment scandal and subsequent resignation — claiming network rules prevented his from covering the groundbreaking news.

“I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have conflict, and there are rules and CNN about that,” Cuomo said at the end of his 9 p.m. show.

“My position has never changed. I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program.”

The younger Cuomo did go so far as to admit that he had advised the Governor to resign, something he “never imagined having to do.” But he defended his right to privately offer counsel to his sibling, saying, “I’m not an adviser. I’m a brother.”

The linked article once again notes that Cuomo had “come under scrutiny” for not addressing his brother’s scandals on his show. But I’ve never understood that criticism. After his public apology, we learned that his agreement with CNN that allowed him to keep his job included a promise to not talk about Andrew Cuomo on the air and to not take meetings with any other staff members or other politicians aside from his brother. The reason he wasn’t talking about it was that he had promised his employers that he wouldn’t and could have lost his job if he had done so.

So why did he bring it up at all last night? I’m going to assume that he cleared it with the network’s management in advance. Of course, that’s the same chain of management that approved of him having Andrew Cuomo on as a guest more than a dozen times last year in some of the most ethically dubious cable “news” coverage in recent memory.

More than anything else, it sounds as if Chris wanted a chance to explain why he had been giving advice to his brother and in what capacity he had offered it. It might have been nice if he’d decided to explain why his original advice was so crappy and painted him in nearly as bad of a light as the Governor, though. Telling him to “stand up to” his accusers and not resign, not to mention smearing some of the women, was advice that Andrew Cuomo took to heart, but it led to a lot of people asking why CNN would continue to employ somebody who dishes out suggestions like those.

I’m left wondering what will happen with Chris Cuomo after his brother leaves office. If there turn out to be impeachment hearings or a criminal trial against Andrew Cuomo once he’s returned to private life, those would still be major news stories. Would Chris still be barred from covering them if his brother no longer holds any governmental power and influence? I’m guessing that topic will still be off-limits if only for the ethically painful memories it would invoke. Of course, I never watch the show anyway, so it’s really no skin off my back.