While two things can be simultaneously true, admitting that you knew something was wrong and did it anyway but that you shouldn’t be held accountable hardly qualifies. Yet, that is precisely what disgraced former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was selling Monday when he acknowledged his alleged breach of journalistic ethics.
Before Jeff Zucker stepped down as CEO at CNN over his own indiscretions, he had seen to the dismissal of Cuomo seemingly for covering for his older brother, equally disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was caught in a sexual harassment scandal that led to his resignation. Despite filing a $125 million lawsuit against his former boss and network, claiming in part that the unscrupulous network “unjustifiably smeared” his “journalistic integrity,” the younger Cuomo admitted he knew all along the interviews with his brother were “a conflict of interest.”
Speaking with Kara Swisher on the debut of her New York Magazine podcast, “On With Kara Swisher,” Cuomo said of the routine appearances by the governor, “Did I think that they should be considered a conflict of interest? Ab initio, inherently all day long. But there was complete transparency. You knew it was my brother.”
Oops! Here! https://t.co/q8sAAYEEfz
— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) September 26, 2022
“The hindsight 20/20 for me is that if I had known that a grudge would be harbored because if we’re giving a fair reckoning, not many people spoke up loudly in the media about disapproving of my brother being on during that time. They did so later,” he claimed. “And I think in that is something that needs to be owned as well. The reason that they didn’t come out in the moment was because it was very popular and powerful.”
“If I knew that it was going to be harbored as a grudge the way it was I may have had much more profound concerns early on when I was asked to have my brother on,” Cuomo insisted before emphasizing, “Very important phrase.”
Much like his lawsuit, he also pushed back on his Dec. 2021 termination as he argued the decision to have the governor on was not his, but Zucker’s. “The idea that Chris Cuomo had no boss, Chris Cuomo did as he liked when he liked how he like–these are people who don’t know our business. When Jeff decided to have Andrew on, I believe it was the right call because the country was desperate and starved for comfort. I’ve never been thanked for any work that I’ve done the way I was for those interviews.”
He also defended his meager line of questioning on serious issues the governor was confronted with at the time such as the excess deaths in nursing homes as a result of the state’s decisions on how to respond to COVID.
“Look, the idea of did I give my brother a pass is an obvious rhetorical question. That was a real question. Other journalists were asking him questions at the time that were not as pointed as the one I asked him and I couldn’t even fairly cover it. Which should tell you something about the nature of media treatment of people in power in general, maybe,” he said.
Cuomo’s lawsuit against his former employer also contended that he would be unable to find a new position like the one he had with the network, but he is set to begin a new program with NewsNation on Oct. 3.
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