CNN media analyst Brian Stelter leveled unprecedented criticism at newly-fired “Prime Time” anchor Chris Cuomo, claiming that the former personality was a disruptive force at the troubled network.
Network host Jim Acosta announced the firing during a segment on Saturday before bringing in Stelter for comments.
“We have breaking news to report to you right now about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Earlier this week, Cuomo was suspended from CNN after documents revealed he had been involved more than previously known in shaping his brother’s, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, defense,” Acosta said.
“Cuomo, Chris Cuomo we should point out, has now been terminated here at CNN. That’s the latest breaking news about what’s happening here at CNN. I want to get to CNN’s Brian Stelter. Brian, obviously this is huge news, not only inside CNN but for this industry. What can you tell us?
Stelter said CNN’s executive team took action after Cuomo, “one of the most popular anchors at CNN, one of the best-known names in television news, violated journalistic ethics and norms not once or twice, but many times.” Stelter went on to say that the dismissed host “had been suspended not just, you know, for a week, not in the kind of way that’s a fake suspension to take pressure off CNN, this was a real suspension.”
“I think this may be a situation, Jim, just drawing on my years as a media reporter, I think this may be a situation where it was death by a 1,000 cuts, where there were just so many headaches, time and time again, involving Chris Cuomo, that even though many viewers loved watching ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ and looked forward to his show, that he was causing so many headaches for the network and for CNN staffers, that ultimately this decision was reached,” Stelter claimed.
“That’s just drawing on my background, you know, covering other stories like this. I do think, you know, this is a moment where journalistic ethics are at play. And I know there were many CNN staffers very unhappy with the situation, very frustrated by Chris Cuomo,” Stelter added.
Cuomo was initially placed on suspension last week amid new revelations that he provided more assistance to his embattled brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, than he previously admitted as the Democratic leader battled sexual harassment allegations over the summer ahead of his decision to step down.
“What we didn’t know until tonight, Jim, is that an outside law firm also came in, and that the law firm went through the thousands of pages of text messages and sworn testimony that was released back on Monday,” Stelter continued. “So there was clearly something in those documents that was found to be a serious breach of standards and practices.
“Of course, it was known months ago that Chris Cuomo was helping his brother, talking to his brother, while his brother was trying to hold on to the governorship and defending himself amid sexual harassment allegations,” the network media analyst continued. “What we learned this week in those text messages, and in that sworn testimony, was that he basically was acting like a staffer. He was like an unpaid staffer for the governor. And he was doing that at the same time he was working for CNN.”
“And Brian, do we know when this new information might be brought out to the public, and we’ll have a sense as to what this additional information was?” Acosta asked in response.
“I don’t know, actually, if it ever will, I think that’s very much unclear. You know, certainly, in the years I’ve spent covering media, we know that companies try to keep these things as private as possible. But this is playing out in a very public stage because of Chris Cuomo’s prominence, and because of his relationship with his brother,” said Stelter.
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