Chris Cuomo had been on a previously scheduled vacation last week. During his return to the airwaves Monday night, he told viewers: “I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have a conflict and there are rules at CNN about that.”
He also said that as Andrew Cuomo (D) was embroiled in the growing scandal in late February and March, “I tried to be there for my brother. I’m not an adviser. I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and offer my take.” His eventual counsel: “While it was something I never imagined ever having to, I did urge my brother to resign when the time came.”
This month’s report from the New York state attorney general that led to Andrew Cuomo’s political downfall described Chris Cuomo as a member of the governor’s “team of advisors.” It cited internal documents and communications and described the advisers as people “who counseled him to express contrition” after media reports detailing the allegations were first published.
In May, The Washington Post first reported that the younger Cuomo had taken part in strategy sessions with the governor’s top aides, violating CNN rules. Chris Cuomo apologized on air and CNN said that although the anchor had not been involved in the network’s Cuomo coverage, “it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.” The network also said Chris Cuomo would not be disciplined.
On Monday, Chris Cuomo repeated his apology but also referenced his more recent critics who have said his involvement in the scandal has undermined his and the network’s credibility.
“There are stories and critics saying all kinds of things about me, many unsupportive,” he said. “But … I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program. 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.”
CNN has previously said that the anchor, who started in 2013, has been walled off from covering the New York governor because it would be a conflict of interest. But Chris Cuomo would go on to interview his brother six times at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
The network said it had made an exception to its rule at the time because it determined that it was of significant human interest for Cuomo to interview his brother, governor of one of the country’s hardest-hit states.
On Monday night, Chris Cuomo defended those appearances, saying he had always said they “would be short-lived. And they were. The last was over a year ago, long before any kind of scandal.”
“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,” Chris Cuomo said. “I said point-blank, I can’t be objective when it comes to my family.”