CNN announced on Saturday evening that anchor Chris Cuomo has been fired from the network, following “additional information” that came to light after the major TV news organization said that he had been suspended indefinitely.
CNN’s firing of Cuomo comes days after the network suspended its star anchor, citing the New York Attorney General’s release of documents that raised “serious questions” about his involvement in the defense of his brother, disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), against allegations of sexual harassment.
The network said at the time that Cuomo’s suspension was “pending further evaluation,” without specifying how long the review would take or who would conduct the evaluation.
In a statement issued Saturday evening, CNN said it retained a respected law firm” to review Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense against sexual harassment allegations and that “in the process of that review, additional information has come to light.”
“Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate,” CNN said on Saturday evening.
Although CNN did not detail the “additional information” related to Cuomo, the network issued another statement to the New York Times shortly before midnight on Saturday, saying that while “Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense” had already given the network “cause to terminate,” CNN took “new allegations” that came to the network this week “seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”
CNN’s late-night statement followed the Times’ report of Cuomo’ firing. According to the Times, Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against its star anchor on Wednesday. Katz told the Times in a statement on Saturday that the allegation against the anchor, which was made by a former junior colleague at another network, was “unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.”
However, it is unclear whether the new allegation influenced CNN’s decision to fire Cuomo. The Times noted that Katz also represents Charlotte Bennett, a onetime aide to Andrew Cuomo who accused the former governor in February of sexual harassment.
A spokesperson for Chris Cuomo, Steven Goldberg, told the Times on Saturday that “these apparently anonymous allegations are not true.”
According to the Times, Katz said that her client “came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.”
Katz pointed to a broadcast on March 1 in which Chris Cuomo said: “I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.”
Goldberg maintained that Chris Cuomo “fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way,” according to the Times.
“If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination,” Goldberg told the Times.
Chris Cuomo lamented his termination from CNN on Saturday evening.
Up until last week, Cuomo faced no discipline from the network even after reports emerged earlier this year that the CNN anchor gave advice to his embattled brother on how to handle the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against him from current and former aides.
That all changed when the New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits on Monday that “shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense.”
“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,” a statement CNN released on Tuesday evening said, adding that Chris Cuomo’s offering of advice to his brother’s staff broke the network’s rules. CNN said that it “acknowledged that publicly.”
“But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second,” CNN said on Tuesday. However, CNN noted that the NY attorney general’s documents “point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew.”
“As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation,” CNN said.