CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, fresh off a well-timed vacation that coincided with his brother Andrew’s resignation as New York governor over a sexual harassment scandal, addressed the elephant in the room at the end of his primetime show Monday night.
And he let viewers know that this would be his “final word on it.”
The CNN star, who previously apologized in May for advising his brother on how to handle his unfolding sexual misconduct controversy, testified in the New York attorney general’s report that concluded Andrew Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women. The report also found that Chris Cuomo appeared to be involved in drafting his older brother’s public statements on the issue.
The CNN host did not cover the report or the allegations on his show in the immediate aftermath, and amid the rising criticism he faced over his obvious conflict of interest for serving as an informal adviser to his brother, he took a “planned vacation” to go “fishing.” His brother, meanwhile, finally resigned while the anchor was off the air.
Thanking his viewers at the end of his program, Chris Cuomo first said, “There are a lot of people feeling a lot of hurt and a lot of pain right now,” adding that he hopes “some higher good will be served in all of this.”
Acknowledging that he had been criticized for his uber-friendly interviews that CNN allowed him to conduct with his brother during the early months of the pandemic, Cuomo excused them away by saying it was always a temporary situation.
“I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have a conflict, and there are rules at CNN about that,” he insisted. “I said last year that his appearances on this show would be short-lived, and they were. The last was over a year ago, long before any kind of scandal.”
Cuomo continued: “I also said back then that a day would come when he would have to be held to account, and I can’t do that. I said point-blank, I can’t be objective when it comes to my family, so I never reported on the scandal and when it happened, I tried to be there for my brother.”
“And yes, while it was something I never ever imagined having to do, I did urge my brother to resign when the time came,” Cuomo said.
Turning to his critics, of whom there have been many, Cuomo defended his actions in the wake of his brother’s scandal and insisted he did nothing wrong in recent weeks.
“I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program,” he exclaimed. “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
He then brought up his public apology in May for working behind the scenes with his brother’s team to push back against the sexual harassment allegations, something he said at the time would “never happen again.” While CNN called the meetings “inappropriate,” it did not discipline Cuomo any further.
“And as you know, back in May when I was told to no longer communicate with my brother’s aides in any group meetings, I acknowledged it was a mistake, I apologized to my colleagues, I stopped, and I meant it,” he said. “It was a unique situation being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media. I tried to do the right thing, and I just want you all to know that.”
Before signing off, Cuomo concluded: “As I’ve said, we have rules here at CNN that prevent me from reporting on my brother. They remain in place and will continue to. Tonight, I simply wanted to address something that, given what’s happened, I just felt it needed to be said. This will be my final word on it, and I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to do so.”