CNN Fires Primetime Personality Chris Cuomo
CNN announced over the weekend that it has fired Primetime host Chris Cuomo.
The announcement came after an outside law firm was retained to review information about exactly how the younger Cuomo aided his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo when the then-governor was accused of sexual harassment.
Prior to the jaw-dropping announcement of his termination, CNN suspended Cuomo “indefinitely.” The law firm retained by the network submitted its findings on Friday, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, and CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker fired Cuomo on Saturday.
The producers and other staffers who work on “Cuomo Prime Time” will remain in place. Michael Smerconish, Cuomo’s regular substitute, will host the 9 p.m. Eastern hour next week.
CNN said in a statement, “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review and have terminated him, effective immediately.”
“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” CNN’s statement added. “Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
In a statement of his own Saturday, Chris Cuomo said, “This is not how I want my time at CNN to end, but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother. So let me now say, as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot. I owe them all and will miss that group of special people who did really important work.”
News of Cuomo’s sudden termination was followed almost immediately by new allegations of sexual misconduct against the now fallen CNN anchor.
While the new allegations became public after the news of his firing, it appears that CNN was aware of them “just days before” his termination.
The claim came from prominent attorney Debra S. Katz, who is representing the accuser, according to The New York Times. Katz’s client is a “former junior colleague at another network,” and the newly emerged allegation against Cuomo is “unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.”
The lawyer said her client “came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo” when the CNN star addressed the scandal in March, telling viewers, “I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.”
Notably, Katz also represents Charlotte Bennett, the second woman to accuse now-ousted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment.
It was not immediately unknown if this newest reported revelation had any role in CNN’s firing of Cuomo on Saturday or if the allegation was the “additional information” the network referred to in its statement announcing the anchor’s termination.
“Based on the report we received regarding Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense, we had cause to terminate,” a CNN spokesperson told the Times. “When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”
Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Cuomo, additionally told the Times, “These apparently anonymous allegations are not true,” adding, “If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”
These latest allegations are at least the second time Cuomo has been accused of sexual misconduct.
Shelley Ross, a veteran TV producer, went public in September, penning a guest essay in The New York Times alleging that Cuomo squeezed her buttock at a work function in 2005 while the two of them were colleagues at ABC News.
Cuomo has not commented any further on his firing nor the latest charge of sexual misconduct.