CNN Takes Bold Action In Firing Chris Cuomo On A Saturday Night
CNN has fired prime time anchor Chris Cuomo four days after “suspending” him and acknowledging “additional Information” had come up.
Just four days after announcing that he would be indefinitely suspended from the network, CNN has terminated its star host Chris Cuomo following an investigation conducted by a law firm that it said had turned up “additional information” about him.
Cuomo was suspended by CNN on Tuesday, a day after documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James showed that he was more extensively involved in helping to defend his brother, then-Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), against allegations of sexual misconduct than he had acknowledged — either publicly or to CNN management.
The network had said at the time that Cuomo’s suspension was “pending further evaluation,” without specifying how long that process would take or who would conduct it.
In a statement on Saturday evening, the network said that it had “retained a respected law firm” to review Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s crisis-management efforts and that “in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
The network did not say what that “additional information” related to.
His firing completes a quick and shocking turnabout for the legendary Cuomo family. Early last year, the anchor and the governor — sons of three-term New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) — were lauded in some circles as heroes of the coronavirus pandemic for their jocular and reassuring joint appearances on CNN to discuss early responses to the coronavirus crisis. Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor in August after James, the state attorney general, reported that he had sexually harassed 11 women during his time in office.
It seemed for several months that Chris Cuomo, the host of CNN’s most-watched show, might weather the scandal — until the release of James’s extensive investigative documents this week. CNN president Jeff Zucker broke the news in a memo to employees on Saturday evening.
“Today, I let Chris Cuomo know that we are ending his employment at CNN,” he wrote. “It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved.”
Cuomo acknowledged his abrupt termination in a statement on Twitter.
“This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother,” he said. “So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time … I owe [the Cuomo Prime Time team] and will miss that group of special people who did really important work.”
Since his suspension, the 9 p.m. hour on CNN had been hosted by anchor Anderson Cooper, extending his normal 8 p.m. show. Next week, Cuomo’s time slot is scheduled to be filled by CNN Saturday morning host Michael Smerconish. But it had not yet settled on hosting plans beyond next week, and the network will now have a bigger task on hand finding a permanent 9 p.m. host.
Cuomo’s suspension led to a round of speculation about whether he would ultimately leave the network, but someone close to the situation told The Washington Post on Wednesday that Cuomo’s fate had not been decided and that the network would be guided by the results of “further evaluation.”
On his SiriusXM radio show Wednesday afternoon, Cuomo told listeners that he was “embarrassed” by the network’s decision to suspend him but promised to respect the network’s evaluation process. “I know they have a process that they think is important,” he said. “So, I’m not going to talk about this anymore than that.”
The 348-page interview transcript and communications records released Monday as part of the state investigation showed that Chris Cuomo played a significant role in his brother’s rapid-response operation to the harassment allegations, drafting up statements for his brother to read and weighing in on strategy debates.