Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
CNN fired star primetime anchor Chris Cuomo on Saturday after the network said “new information”emerged on the extent of his involvement with his brother’s battle against sexual harassment allegations.
Cuomo is “livid” at his termination and in talks with lawyers, a person familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast.
“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,” Cuomo said in a statement immediately after the news broke.
The top-rated anchor told his brother’s aides he would use his own sources to investigate then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, a major breach of journalistic ethics. What’s more, a law firm hired by the cable network found in an internal review that what Cuomo had disclosed to his employer did not match what emerged in documents later, and CNN determined it had standing to can him, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The network issued a statement: “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
The law firm began its review mid-week and concluded it Friday, per a person familiar with the process, and CNN president Jeff Zucker informed Cuomo on Saturday that he would be fired.
“Today, I let Chris know that we are ending his employment at CNN. It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved,” Zucker wrote in an internal memo to staff.
Though Anderson Cooper has taken over the airtime previously occupied by Cuomo’s show on Tuesday night, CNN insiders suggest Jake Tapper is the front runner to take Cuomo’s 9 p.m. time slot.
The cable network initially did not discipline Cuomo, calling his relationship with the governor a “unique position” after it came to light that he participated in strategy calls with his brother and governor’s aides about how best to combat the mounting wave of pressure for Andrew to resign. Earlier this week, however, text messages released by New York’s attorney general showed that Cuomo asked his brother’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, “Please let me help with the prep.”
Cuomo previously claimed he “never misled anyone” but apologized on air for his involvement in his brother’s fight, saying it “will never happen again” and he “knows where the line is.” Zucker said Cuomo was “a human” who had simply “made a mistake.”
Chris also texted DeRosa “I have a lead on the wedding girl” after allegations emerged that Andrew made unwanted advances on a woman at a wedding. Andrew stepped down in August.