CNN President Jeff Zucker on Tuesday insisted that there are no “special rules” that apply to Chris Cuomo — even though the top anchor was not disciplined for advising his older brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on how to respond to sexual harassment allegations, according to reports.
The network boss, in a town-hall meeting with staff, said he had personally voiced his displeasure to Chris and considered the options for how to handle the situation, according to The Daily Beast.
Ultimately, Zucker said he felt it was “more powerful and more honest” for the star host to acknowledge his mistake and apologize to colleagues on-air, rather than for him to be suspended, Mediaite reported.
While he said that the situation is “incredibly unique,” Zucker maintained that there are not “special rules” that apply to Chris when it comes to covering his politician brother, the report said.
It was revealed by The Washington Post last week that Chris had joined a series of strategy sessions to help the Democratic governor plan his response to the mounting sexual harassment scandal he faces — and keep him from becoming a “cancel culture” victim.
CNN acknowledged that the anchor was part of the conference calls, saying his involvement was “a mistake” and would not happen again. The network said Chris would not face any disciplinary action.
During his show on Thursday, the “Cuomo Prime Time” host admitted that advising his brother was a mistake and apologized for putting his colleagues “in a bad spot”
He declared that it “will never happen again” and said he “knows where the line is.”
But journalists slammed Chris for taking part in the high-level planning sessions, and CNN insiders reportedly expressed frustration with how the network handled the incident, saying there should have faced more serious consequences.
“I’m very disappointed in the network,” one current on-air personality told The Daily Beast this week. “I think some disciplinary action, at a minimum, was required in this situation.”
In Tuesday’s town-hall, Zucker said he understood the “unease” from CNN staffers, adding, “Let me say up front, Chris made a mistake,” Mediaite reported.
Zucker also addressed criticism of Chris interviewing the governor at the height of the coronavirus outbreak in New York last year, saying it was a “once in a lifetime pandemic” that he was “scared to death about,” the report said.
The CNN boss reportedly said he wanted to remind employees that Chris “is human,” and that “these are very unique circumstances.”