Why CNN fired Chris Cuomo, anchor of its primetime programme

FILE - In this May 16, 2018 file photo, Chris Cuomo attends the Turner Networks 2018 Upfront in New York. Cuomo will start his own two-hour radio show next Monday at noon on SiriusXM. The company said Wednesday that Cuomo's weekday show will air on its nonpartisan P.O.T.U.S. channel. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Chris Cuomo, the anchor of CNN’s primetime programme, was fired Saturday for trying to help his brother, the former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, fight accusations of sexual misconduct which resulted in his resignation.

The anchor was suspended on Tuesday after testimony and text messages released by the New York attorney general revealed a more intimate and engaged role in his brother’s political affairs than what CNN said it had previously known.

“Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week,” a statement by the network said, “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 statement added.

Mr Cuomo, 51, said in a statement reported by the BBC that “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,”

“So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot.”

He had worked for the network since 2013 and became one of its most recognisable news presenters, most recently leading CNN’s coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Until last month, Mr Cuomo had reportedly enjoyed the support of CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, and he faced no discipline for his behind-the-scenes strategizing with Andrew Cuomo’s political aides, a breach of basic journalistic norms.

In a staff memo seen by the New York Times, Mr Zucker said: “It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved.”

The New York Times said the spectacle of a high-profile anchor advising his powerful politician brother amid scandal was a long-standing headache for many CNN journalists, who privately expressed discomfort at actions that, in their view, compromised the network’s credibility.

Renowned anchor of the Lead, Jake Tapper, went public with his concerns in May, telling The New York Times that his colleague had “put us in a bad spot,” adding, “I cannot imagine a world in which anybody in journalism thinks that that was appropriate.”

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