Why CNN fired Chris Cuomo
Network failed to act before suspension
CNN’s Brian Stelter reacted to his former colleague Chris Cuomo’s firing by inviting a panel of “non-CNN voices” to react to the news Sunday, but that description appeared to be a misnomer.
Stelter, whose show “Reliable Sources” has recently struggled with poor ratings, offered a timeline of notable moments that led to Cuomo’s termination Saturday after the ex-anchor was found to have helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, face sexual harassment allegations. The governor sexually harassed 11 women over the course of seven years, state attorney general Letitia James alleged in an August report.
He resigned in disgrace shortly after the findings. And now the “Cuomo Prime Time” host has lost his position after last week’s bombshell transcripts revealed he used his media influence to dig up dirt on the governor’s female accusers.
UltraViolet, a leading national gender-justice organization, called for CNN to immediately fire Chris Cuomo.
An investigation into Chris Cuomo’s behavior also found he had again been accused of sexual misconduct. Cuomo had previously been accused of sexual harassment by veteran TV producer Shelley Ross, who claimed he harassed her when the two worked at ABC News.
“This was about not any single headache but about many headaches that continued to pile up,” Stelter said in the opening of Sunday’s show.
Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent for CNN, speaks onstage during "Discovery Gets Cooking" at Vanity Fair’s 6th Annual New Establishment Summit at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Oct. 22, 2019 in Beverly Hills, Calif.
(Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
Stelter then introduced a panel of three “non-CNN voices” consisting of Axios’ Sara Fischer, Goucher College media studies professor David Zurawik and “Run Tell That” podcast host Mara Schiavocampo in an attempt, Stelter said, to be “as transparent” as possible to viewers.
But a dig into one of the panelist’s recent past shows that Fischer worked for CNN Politics as a news assistant and later as a production assistant in 2013. And Zurawik refused to say Sunday that CNN has lost trust in the wake of the Cuomo brothers scandal.
“It’s hard to say if CNN lost trust,” Zurawik said, only noting that CNN made the “mistake” of not forcing Cuomo to ask who he “serves.” Zurawik said the correct answer would have been “the public.”
Zurawik noted a loss of “a sense of media ethics in our profession, especially in the last few years.”
Fischer said she’s among those who want to know why CNN took so long to take action and what a further investigation will reveal about both Cuomo and the network at large.
A collection of previously confidential documents revealed CNN’s Chris Cuomo was more involved with his big brother’s sexual misconduct scandal than previously known.
(CNN | istock)
Stelter called the situation a “once in a lifetime ethical dilemma,” adding he was not intending to defend his former colleague’s behavior. But Stelter has come to Cuomo’s defense in the past, including just last week.
“For what it’s worth, when Chris Cuomo addressed his actions on the air back in August, he said, ‘This will be my final word on it,’ and he hasn’t addressed the matter on TV since,” Stelter wrote.
Lindsay Boylan, the first woman to publicly accuse ex-Gov. Cuomo of sexual harassment, called Stelter complicit in the Cuomos’ “abuses of power.”
“What we mean when we say many people help in abuses of power along the way,” Boylan said in response to a Stelter tweet.
Stelter admitted it’s been a “bruising week for CNN” and that there could be “more fallout to come.”
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