CNN's Chris Cuomo is facing backlash for refusing to cover his brother Gov. Andrew Cuomo's scandals after praising his pandemic response
- CNN host Chris Cuomo is facing criticism after he announced he won't cover the allegations of sexual harassment against his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
- The TV host said he "obviously" can't cover his brother's scandals because it presents a conflict of interest.
- But critics noted that this standard didn't apply when the CNN host regularly hosted his brother for softball interviews through the first months of the COVID-19 crisis.
CNN prime-time host Chris Cuomo is facing criticism after he announced on his Monday program that he won't cover the allegations of sexual harassment against his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, despite hosting him several times over the past year for friendly interviews.
On Monday night, the governor was accused of sexual harassment and unwanted advances by a third woman, Anna Ruch, who said Cuomo touched her back, held her face, and asked to kiss her at a 2019 wedding.
"Obviously, I'm aware of what's going on with my brother," the CNN host said. "And obviously, I cannot cover it, because he is my brother," he continued. "Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it, extensively, and they will continue to do so."
CNN and Chris Cuomo both faced backlash for inviting the governor on the program for a series of interviews about the COVID-19 crisis. The governor received months of positive press for his handling of the pandemic, but is now dealing with a scandal over his administration's withholding of data about nursing-home deaths.
On Monday and Tuesday, a slew of voices across the political spectrum called the network hypocritical and insisted that it never should have let the governor on "Cuomo Prime Time."
"'Obviously I can't cover it because he is my brother'" would have been a pretty good rule from the beginning," tweeted Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, a conservative magazine.
Yashar Ali, a liberal journalist, argued that CNN's decision to allow the Cuomos to appear together on TV was flawed. Meghan McCain, a conservative host of "The View," slammed the Cuomos for their lighthearted interviews last year and accused CNN of undermining faith in the media.
A spokesperson for CNN didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
—Yashar Ali (@yashar) March 2, 2021
—Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) March 2, 2021
—Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) March 2, 2021
—Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) March 2, 2021
—Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) March 2, 2021
The Atlantic's David Graham reported last year that CNN agreed that an interview between two brothers didn't meet its journalistic standards, so it prohibited Chris from interviewing Andrew for about seven years. But in March 2020, the network began making exceptions to that rule and allowed the governor to regularly chat with his brother about the coronavirus. Those conversations were personal and informal - the brothers poked fun at each other and discussed family drama - and both Cuomos saw their ratings shoot up.
"It was easy to see what was gained: CNN got must-watch TV, and the governor's office got a chance to humanize a politician more respected (usually grudgingly) than loved," Graham wrote in May. "With a little distance, it's clear what was lost too: accountability for New York's troubled response to the crisis."
At times, the CNN host lavished his brother with praise live on the air.
"I'm wowed by what you did and, more importantly, I'm wowed by how you did it," he said in an interview in June. "Obviously, I think you're the best politician in the country, but I hope you feel good about what you did for your people because I know they appreciate it."
—Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) June 25, 2020
CNN said in a statement last month that it made "an exception to a rule" because "the early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time."
"We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest," the spokesperson said. "As a result, we made an exception to a rule that we have had in place since 2013 which prevents Chris from interviewing and covering his brother, and that rule remains in place today. CNN has covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively."
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