CNN host Jake Tapper has criticized network colleague Chris Cuomo over the latter’s decision to advise his New York governor brother, Andrew Cuomo, regarding his numerous sexual harassment scandals.
In an interview with The New York Times, Tapper suggested that his host co-worker, who is a lawyer, was wrong to participate in strategy sessions involving the complaints against the Democratic governor while serving as a journalist for the network, adding it was “not a fun day” when the Washington Post broke the story.
“I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate … and he said, Chris, in his apology that he delivered on-air, said that he put us in a bad spot, and I would also agree with that,” Tapper told Kara Swisher during a Thursday podcast for the Times.
“And then, just as a last point, I would say that I work very hard to be fair and to be ethical and to not cross lines,” he added.
Tapper went on to say that the controversy does not affect his work because he isn’t in charge of CNN. But he added that “we all reflect on each other” in terms of personal actions by staffers and hosts at the network.
Last week, CNN president Jeff Zucker reportedly reprimanded Cuomo, telling employees and on-air talent of his “unease” over the “mistake.”
In a Tuesday town hall with staff, according to the Daily Beast, Zucker said of Cuomo: “He did cross a line.”
The CNN boss reportedly told Cuomo he should apologize on the air to viewers after the Post report broke.
Last week, the Post reported that Chris Cuomo advised his brother not to step down despite the mounting and to many very credible, accusations from multiple women that the governor harassed or made sexually inappropriate comments and contact.
“Cuomo, one of the network’s top stars, joined a series of conference calls that included the Democratic governor’s top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers, according to the people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private sessions,” the Post reported.
“The behind-the-scenes strategy … cuts against the widely accepted norm in journalism that those reporting the news should not be involved in politics,” the report noted further.
Shortly after the story broke, Chris Cuomo began his prime-time program with a mea culpa.
“Remember I told you back in the beginning of March I can’t cover my brother’s troubles, it wouldn’t be fair,” he began. “You got it then and I appreciate you understanding,” he said, adding he was aware of how his actions put his colleagues in a bad situation. Those actions were “a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot.”
In a statement to the Washington Examiner, CNN said it was “inappropriate” for Cuomo to have done what he did but there won’t be any consequences for his action.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” the network told the outlet in a statement. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges,” the statement continue. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
The Examiner also noted that Gov. Cuomo’s office has acknowledged that the conversations took place. Spokesman Richard Azzopardi said “there were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice.”
For is part, Gov. Cuomo also acknowledged the conversations last week, adding that his brother isn’t the only journalist who gives him advice and counsel.
“I had conversations with my brother. I always have conversations with my brother because he’s my brother and he’s my best friend. Obviously, he was aware of what was going on, and I talked to him about it, and he told me his thoughts,” Andrew Cuomo on Long Island.
“He always tells me his thoughts. … But I talk to journalists about situations all the time, and they tell me their thoughts and their advice.”
At least 10 women have made complaints against the governor. New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office is investigating the claims for any criminal actions while New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is directing an “impeachment investigation” on that level.
The Examiner also noted that Cuomo is under investigation for possible illegal use of state resources to promote his book regarding his COVID-19 leadership. And he is under a federal investigation for allegedly underreporting the number of coronavirus-related deaths in nursing homes in the state after he ordered eldercare facilities to accept them early in the pandemic.
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