CNN’s Chris Cuomo apologizes for advising brother about sex misconduct claims

Network has reportedly not taken any disciplinary actions against the host

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo acknowledged Thursday that he made a mistake by participating in phone calls with the staff of his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, where strategies were discussed on how the governor should respond to recent sexual harassment allegations.

Earlier in the day, CNN issued a statement saying Cuomo’s involvement on the calls was “inappropriate” after a story in The Washington Post revealed the 50-year-old newsman had joined a series of conference calls with his older sibling’s aides and advisers.

During the calls, the host of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” advised his brother to remain defiant in the face of accusations by several women and told him not to resign, the Post reported, quoting two sources who were present on one of the calls, but that the newspaper did not identify.

During the opening monologue of his show on Thursday night, Chris Cuomo said his involvement on the calls was “a mistake.”

“I put my colleagues here (at CNN), who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” the anchor said. “I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I am sorry for that.”

The Post reported that Chris Cuomo used the phrase “cancel culture” as a reason his brother should hold firm against the accusations. Then during a March 12 phone call with reporters where Andrew Cuomo said he would not resign, the governor said, “people know the difference between playing politics, bowing to cancel culture and the truth.”

Asked about the Post story, Cuomo’s publicist Richard Azzopardi said “there were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice.”

Chris Cuomo has never covered the allegations for the network, either on the air or behind the scenes, because he often serves as a “sounding board” for his older brother, which CNN said would have ultimately compromised his objectivity.

“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges,” the network said. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”

There is no indication that CNN has taken any disciplinary action against the host.

Andrew Cuomo and Chris describe themselves as best friends. They are both the sons of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. Last spring, during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the older Cuomo regularly appeared on the show to discuss favorable matters pertaining to the governor’s handling of the outbreak in his state.

At the time, CNN set aside its previous policy not allowing Andrew to appear on Chris’ program. Many viewers found the resulting banter between the two entertaining before CNN reinstated its ban in June.

But those exceptions looked bad in retrospect when Cuomo received criticism for a New York state policy regarding COVID patients in nursing homes, and the subsequent harassment allegations. Chris Cuomo said on the air March 1 that he “obviously” couldn’t cover the stories surrounding his brother.

The 63-year-old Democratic governor of New York is facing allegations that he abused his power by inappropriately touching and sexually harassing women with whom he worked or was acquainted with. The accusations range from groping under a woman’s shirt and planting unwanted kisses to asking unwelcome personal questions about sex and dating.

Gov. Cuomo has apologized for making anyone feel uncomfortable, but categorically denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately or made any inappropriate advances. The state attorney general is continuing to investigate the allegations.

A majority of state Democratic lawmakers have called on Cuomo to resign.

The first woman to publicly accuse Cuomo of harassment, Lindsey Boylan, issued a statement blasting the brothers.

“The job of the press is to hold people who abuse their power accountable. Chris Cuomo has the loudest microphone at the biggest news station in the country. Entire power systems are structured to protect men like Andrew Cuomo. This is example infinity of why women don’t come forward.”

It’s generally considered inappropriate for people in the news media to offer advice to news figures. Fox News Channel figures Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity have both acknowledged privately giving their opinions to former President Donald Trump, although Hannity has said that “I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Andrew Cuomo is also under investigation by a state legislative committee over allegations that his administration arranged for members of his family, including Chris Cuomo, to get special access to COVID-19 tests last year at a time when they were generally unavailable to the general public.

Information provided by The Associated Press was used to compile this report.