Don Lemon appeared on a NY Times podcast today where host Kara Swisher asked him about the awkwardness of his fellow CNN host Chris Cuomo refusing to cover the sexual harassment allegations against his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo just months after having Andrew on for segments about the pandemic. The exchange is interesting because Lemon passes along what Chris Cuomo has told him about the allegations. [Emphasis added]
Swisher: All right, so speaking of objective coverage, I want to get back to that the bromance with Chris Cuomo. He’s gotten a lot of heat lately, how he recused himself on covering the brother’s scandals. I don’t think he could do anything else, actually. But he was on the show a lot — the Governor was on the show a lot, when he was in the limelight around COVID. CNN has backed Chris on this. How do you look at this? And any predictions what happens to Andrew Cuomo now?
Lemon: So the first part, how do I look at this? I look at it is… It would be tough for anybody, especially if it’s your brother. If it’s a loved one, to — to see them going through something like this, regardless of what it is. Chris has told me how he felt about it. That it’s tough for him. That he’s sure his brother is — how do I say this. That he may not have done everything right but he doesn’t necessarily deserve what he’s going through. And a lot of it is, if not most of it, is politically driven, motivated. But Chris is the governor’s brother, he’s not the governor. So I care about Chris on a personal level. I don’t really know Andrew. I think I’ve met Andrew twice, maybe. So how do I look at it? I have to cover it. It was not uncomfortable to cover it, because I know deep-down Chris has been a journalist for almost as long as I have. And he realizes that we have to do it. I wonder how he feels about it with us having to cover it but it doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Does that make sense?
I don’t watch either show so for all I know they had this conversation on the air, but it sounds more like something they would have discussed in private. I guess it’s not surprising that Chris is backing his brother but the idea that this is all politically motivated seems a bit hard to follow. There have been something like 8 or 9 accusers at this point, the most serious of which is a woman who had an emotional breakdown listening to Cuomo’s denials and then told her supervisor she’d been groped. Her name hasn’t been published but she’s still working there. What’s the political motivation? I’d like to see Chris Cuomo (or Don Lemon) explain that.
Lemon goes on to say that he thinks Cuomo will probably survive and if he runs for reelection he’ll likely win, though he also said he didn’t think Cuomo should run again. Near the end of this excerpt, Lemon also revealed CNN guests say very different things on air then they do in the greenroom. [emphasis added]
Lemon: Now with Andrew Cuomo, I actually think that he can survive it because I think there — quite honestly, there — if you look at the polling, there are more people out there who support him than who don’t support him.
Swisher: It’s almost Trumpian.
Lemon: It’s almost Trumpian. And I also think in this day and age, people are concerned about accusations that can just ruin people for accusations. I think people should just let it play out, and see what happens. I think that his term is almost up and by the time that this would wind its way through the courts, if it ever made it to the courts. I haven’t seen anything yet that would make it to the court. He hasn’t been charged of anything. Right? That is court-related.
Swisher: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. I think he’ll brazen it out.
Lemon: Now do I think he should run again? No. Do I think he could run again and win? I do, Kara. Isn’t that amazing?
Swisher: No, no, it’s not. No, not after Trump. He can brazen and shameless things out, you can do that.
Lemon: If you listen to people, people say — It’s just like the Trump people. They’ll say one thing in the green room, and then once you get them on T.V. they say a completely different thing. It’s the same thing, you’re right, with Andrew Cuomo. They say one thing on television or one thing publicly or with a group of people. And then when you’re with them one-on-one they’ll say, look, the guy is — I don’t see where he did anything that was that bad.
That revelation fits exactly with my perception of CNN’s guests. If they believe Cuomo hasn’t done anything “that bad,” why not say so on the air? Go out and defend him kissing women on the lips in his office. Defend him questioning women employees who are 30+ years younger about their sex lives. I would tune in for that.
They won’t do that of course because they can’t possibly defend Cuomo after whatever they’ve said in the past about Brett Kavanaugh or Donald Trump. The double standard is there in the green room but on the air they are going to be #MeToo champions. No wonder CNN’s ratings are in the toilet. No one wants to watch predictable agitprop.