Anchor Chris Cuomo has denied a sexual misconduct allegation made against him after CNN fired him on Saturday for helping to defend his brother, Andrew Cuomo, in the then-governor’s own sexual misconduct investigation.
The sexual misconduct allegation against Chris Cuomo, one of the network’s prime time anchors before his firing, came after he was the subject of a separate investigation by the New York attorney general, who concluded that the younger Cuomo brother helped the governor defend himself against an increasing number of sexual misconduct allegations. The allegation against Cuomo was first reported by The New York Times.
“In the wake of public sexual harassment allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Chris Cuomo looked directly into the camera and told viewers of Cuomo Prime Time, ‘I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that,’” prominent lawyer Debra S. Katz said in a statement released on Sunday.
“Subsequently, the Attorney General released jaw-dropping documentary evidence demonstrating that Chris Cuomo played an active role in attempting to smear women whom the Attorney General concluded had made serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against the Governor,” she continued. “Hearing the hypocrisy of Chris Cuomo’s on-air words and disgusted by his efforts to try and discredit these women, my client retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN.”
Katz said that she informed CNN on Wednesday of the allegation against Cuomo by her client, who the Times reported is a former junior colleague at another network. By Friday, Katz said she was “in discussions with CNN” about providing documentary evidence of the sexual misconduct allegation and making the accuser available for an interview with the network’s outside counsel.
“Last night, CNN acted promptly on my client’s complaint and fired Mr. Cuomo. My client came forward at this time because she felt in sharing her story and related documentation, she could help protect other women,” Katz said. “She will continue to cooperate with CNN’s investigation into her allegations. Given the nature of her allegations, she wishes to remain anonymous, and we ask that you respect this decision.”
Cuomo’s spokesman, Steven Goldberg, told the Times that the “apparently anonymous allegations are not true.”
“To the extent that they were sent to CNN to negate what Chris Cuomo told his audience, he fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way,” Goldberg said. “If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwanted termination.”
CNN fired Cuomo on Saturday evening, less than a week after documents revealed just how seriously the anchor was involved in helping his politician brother respond to nearly a dozen allegations of sexual harassment. He was suspended last Tuesday pending an internal review following the release of the attorney general’s documents, which detailed texts between the anchor and his brother’s top aide earlier this year.
In those texts, Chris Cuomo appears to offer advice on the then-governor’s public statements and made efforts to uncover the status of upcoming articles at other news outlets ― such as The New Yorker and Politico ― regarding the harassment allegations made against Andrew Cuomo.
The ex-CNN anchor previously admitted his involvement in helping his brother back in March, and faced no discipline at the network for his behavior that directly violated journalistic ethics. But the documents released on Nov. 29 put both Chris Cuomo and the network in a damning spot, leaving CNN President Jeff Zucker to terminate the anchor.
“Based on the report we received regarding Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense, we had cause to terminate,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. “When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”
The network also said this weekend that it had “retained a respected law firm” and would “investigate as appropriate” despite Cuomo’s termination.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.