CNN anchor Chris Cuomo told his brother Andrew to resign as governor of New York this week during the fallout over the elder brother’s sex harassment scandal, a report said Tuesday.
The host of “Cuomo Prime Time” spoke to his sibling over the phone and explained that the governor could not survive the fallout from a report released last week by state Attorney General Letitia James, according to The New York Times.
James’ report described sexual harassment allegations against the three-term Democrat from 11 women — including nine current or former state employees.
Andrew, the Empire State’s 56th governor, resigned Tuesday, telling New Yorkers “the best way I can help now is if I step aside.”
Cuomo’s CNN colleague, “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter, confirmed the Times report during an awkward taping of an interview with Stephen Colbert on CBS’ “The Late Show.”
“I also have a source that says Chris was on the phone with his brother this week, urging him–,“ Stelter began before Colbert cut him off to ask: “Is your source Chris Cuomo?”
“He is not,” Stelter answered. “He is not. You gotta have boundaries, you gotta draw a line.”
“Why? He doesn’t,” Colbert shot back, to audible “ooooohs” from the audience.
The Washington Post reported late Monday that Chris Cuomo was one of a dwindling number of people the soon-to-be-former governor was in touch with as longtime allies left his administration and the state Assembly built an impeachment case.
Chris Cuomo has not fronted CNN’s 9 p.m. show since Thursday. He claimed to be taking this week off to mark his 51st birthday, which fell on Monday. Neither Cuomo nor his substitute hosts have touched on the Andrew Cuomo harassment scandal since the report was made public by James.
On March 1, after the first claims of sexual harassment were made against the governor, Chris Cuomo told his viewers that he could not cover the story “because he is my brother.” However, the report revealed that at the same time the anchor attempted to detach himself from his sibling’s scandal, he was sitting in on strategy sessions with a gaggle of Andrew Cuomo’s advisers, both from inside and outside the Executive Chamber.
Indeed, the day before the younger Cuomo made his earnest statement to viewers, the James report revealed, he sent an email to the governor’s other advisers with a proposed statement responding to the allegations that he appeared to have drafted or edited.
On May 20, after The Washington Post initially reported that Chris Cuomo had helped advise his brother on the response to the allegations, the CNN host addressed viewers again.
“I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family … I am fiercely loyal to them. I’m family first, job second,” he said at the time, later adding: “When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his, and advisers that did include some of his staff, I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again.”
In a separate statement that day, the network said it was “inappropriate” for their star anchor “to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
A CNN spokesperson told The Post Monday night that the more recent conversations between Chris and Andrew Cuomo did not run afoul of any network policy.
“As both CNN and Chris have stated publicly, he cannot cover his brother, in part because we certainly expect them to speak,” the rep said. “He’s not joined any meetings nor acted in any official capacity since he apologized for doing so. That’s our expectation as we’ve said all along.”
Stelter defended his network’s much-criticized handling of Chris Cuomo Tuesday, calling the situation “the craziest set of circumstances you can imagine.”
“I talked to a lot of sources at CNN, and some said, ‘Yeah, this is really weird. I’m ticked off at Chris.’ Others said, ‘You know, I understand. You can’t pick who your family members are,’” he told Colbert. “So there was a wide range of opinions.”
Critics have called for Chris Cuomo to be disciplined or fired from CNN, describing his dual role as prime-time anchor and fraternal adviser to be a grievous breach of journalistic ethics.