The CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo supplied public-relations recommendation to his brother, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, after a series of sexual harassment allegations threatened the governor’s political profession earlier this 12 months, an uncommon breach of conventional boundaries between lawmakers and journalists.
CNN mentioned on Thursday that the conversations have been “inappropriate” and that Chris Cuomo would chorus from any extra related discussions with the governor’s workers. However the community mentioned it will take no disciplinary motion in opposition to the anchor, whose program was CNN’s highest-rated present within the first quarter of the 12 months.
The episode has — once again — raised questions on Chris Cuomo’s skill to host a flagship cable information program whereas his brother is a key determine in a number of main political tales. Moreover the harassment allegations from a number of ladies who labored on his workers, Governor Cuomo has confronted criticism for obscuring the number of coronavirus deaths in New York State nursing houses. Final 12 months, earlier than the scandals grew to become information, Governor Cuomo commanded a national audience together with his every day briefings on the pandemic.
Governor Cuomo’s workplace mentioned on Thursday that Chris Cuomo had joined a number of technique calls with the governor and a few of his high advisers, confirming an earlier report by The Washington Post. “There have been a couple of cellphone conversations, with pals and advisers giving the governor recommendation,” mentioned Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Governor Cuomo.
Chris Cuomo apologized to viewers and his colleagues in the beginning of Thursday’s present for the calls with the governor’s workers, saying: “It won’t occur once more. It was a mistake.” However he additionally defended himself, saying that he “in fact” gave recommendation to his brother and that he was “household first, job second.”
“I do know the place the road is,” he mentioned of balancing being a journalist and having a politician as a brother. “I can respect it and nonetheless be there for my household, which I have to.”
Earlier this 12 months, CNN barred Chris Cuomo from collaborating in its information protection of the harassment allegations lodged in opposition to his brother, who has denied any wrongdoing.
“Chris has not been concerned in CNN’s in depth protection of the allegations in opposition to Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” CNN mentioned in a press release. “Partly as a result of, as he has mentioned on his present, he might by no means be goal. But additionally as a result of he usually serves as a sounding board for his brother. Nevertheless, it was inappropriate to interact in conversations that included members of the governor’s workers, which Chris acknowledges.”
“Cuomo Prime Time,” which airs at 9 p.m. on the East Coast, is a information and commentary hour that includes its namesake’s colourful monologues and jousting interviews with visitors. In cable information, ethics guidelines for commentators are sometimes looser than these for reporters. However providing strategic counsel to a high-profile politician is frowned upon. MSNBC, as an illustration, stopped paying the presidential historian Jon Meacham final 12 months after he helped write speeches for Joseph R. Biden Jr., who was then a candidate for president.
A number of of Fox Information’s opinion hosts actively suggested President Trump throughout his administration; Sean Hannity even appeared with Mr. Trump at a boisterous marketing campaign rally. However CNN’s management usually criticized Fox Information for these blurred strains, with Jeff Zucker, the CNN president, describing the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox as “state-run TV.”
After Chris Cuomo joined CNN in 2013, he principally avoided interviewing his brother on tv. (One early exception led to some backlash.) That modified final 12 months, after Governor Cuomo’s coronavirus updates grew to become a nationwide phenomenon. The brothers engaged in prolonged prime-time interviews concerning the emotional burdens of the pandemic. Viewers have been riveted, particularly after Chris Cuomo tested positive for the coronavirus and started talking together with his brother from isolation in a basement.
CNN leaned into the second. “You get belief from authenticity and relatability and vulnerability,” Mr. Zucker told The New York Times final 12 months. “That’s what the brothers Cuomo are giving us proper now.”
The duo’s on-air enchantment waned after Governor Cuomo started dealing with criticism about New York State’s response to the coronavirus. Studies additionally emerged this 12 months that Chris Cuomo was among the many governor’s family and friends members who received special access to government-run coronavirus testing services, together with a police escort for samples in order that they may very well be rapidly processed.
On the time, a CNN spokesman defended the host, arguing that Mr. Cuomo was sick with the virus and “turned to anybody he might for recommendation and help, as any human being would.”
Luis Ferré-Sadurní contributed reporting.