Chris Cuomo won’t give CNN, or his very concerned social justice warrior colleagues, a break.
Cuomo is arguably the face of the network. That’s a serious problem for Jim Acosta’s anti-Fox News jihad, Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy’s Media Matters rip-off gig, Jake Tapper’s ‘last honest man in Washington’ act and Wolf Blitzer still trying to pretend he’s just the straight news guy.
Cuomo has eclipsed them all. Hence his magical COVID basement Lazarus miracle last year. Hence also the circus act with his now-humiliated brother and all the special favors that come from that kind of family connection. Those included preferential COVID testing treatment and a special advisory role in smearing Andrew’s sexual harassment accusers without (allegedly) the higher-ups at CNN knowing about it (they did).
Now the face and guns of CNN finds himself embroiled in another scandal. Former ABC producer and journalist Shelley Ross accused Cuomo of sexual harassment in 2005, on the record, in the New York Times — with an email apology as her receipt. She later asked Cuomo to use his platform on national television to highlight stories like hers and #MeToo. She did not call for his termination and insists she’s not looking for a scalp.
This comes on the heels of the Time’s Up group finding itself almost completely disbanded in the wake of revelations that its chairs assisted in Andrew Cuomo’s PR strategy against his own accusers.
Chris Cuomo should certainly have to answer for his behavior, but he’s a mere symptom of the disease that’s infected CNN. That network now seems to care more about trending on Twitter with playground insults against Fox News, its competitor that bests it daily in the ratings. CNN president Jeff Zucker and Cuomo’s other superiors must see value in keeping him around the office, though no one can seem to quantify what exactly that value is at this point. CNN recently poached Kasie Hunt from NBC News, which was a curious high-profile move.
Why should Chris Cuomo be kept on the air in such a high-profile time slot, given his history of lying to his superiors, staging fake COVID stunts, smearing sexual harassment accusers as liars on behalf of his brother, and now an on-the-record admission and apology for groping a colleague in a public setting in front of her husband? CNN could put a woman, even a woman of color, into that time slot effortlessly, and yet refuse to do so. The reason is simple — CNN believes Chris Cuomo is a star, and when you’re a star, CNN lets you get away with it.
That’s why Jeff Zucker turned a blind eye to Donald Trump when he was at NBC and The Apprentice and that’s what Zucker and CNN are doing now with Chris Cuomo. Perhaps the pattern of bad behavior does not simply begin and end with Cuomo, but with the executive and the network that continue to enable it.