CNN President Jeff Zucker previously appeared to downplay now-terminated nighttime anchor Chris Cuomo’s conduct involving his embattled brother, former New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
In comments from May — when Chris Cuomo was found to have advised his brother as the popular Democrat was embroiled in increasing allegations of sexual misconduct — Zucker explained to staff of the scandal-plagued network about Cuomo’s unique position and said it was “more powerful and more honest to publicly say he screwed up.”
“There’s no one else in Chris’ shoes,” Zucker said of Chris Cuomo’s position as a major cable news anchor who is the sibling of then one of the Democratic Party’s most notable figures.
Zucker added that nonetheless there were no “special rules” for the “Cuomo Prime Time” pundit and that it “does not excuse his mistake.”
CNN TERMINATES CHRIS CUOMO ‘EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY’
Cuomo was fired from the network “effective immediately” earlier Saturday, following the internal review of “a respected law firm” in regard to “further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense,” a CNN statement said.
Zucker was said to be a chief backer of the younger Cuomo was one of his first new hires when he took over the liberal network.
He previously boasted of the “authenticity and relatability” of Cuomo interviewing Cuomo during the pandemic.
CHRIS CUOMO SAGA: ABC PRODUCER WHO ACCUSED DISGRACED ANCHOR OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT REACTS TO HIS FIRING FROM CNN
“That’s what the Brothers Cuomo are giving us right now,” Zucker said in remarks to the New York Times in 2020.
In its reporting, the Times suggested the current CNN morning drive program “New Day” – previously co-hosted by Cuomo – was designed specifically around the now-fired anchor’s personality.
That personality was on full display during a roundly-condemned interview in the midst of the pandemic when Chris Cuomo elicited guffaws from his governor brother as he lampooned the elder Cuomo’s facial features with the help of an oversized Q-tip prop.
Chris Cuomo’s off-air behavior in terms of advising his brother reached critical mass after texts released by New York State Attorney General Tish James showing the anchor was intimately involved in helping his brother by seeking information on potential breaking reports on at least one sexual harassment accuser.
“I have a lead on the wedding girl,” Chris texted Andrew’s top aide, Melissa De Rosa, in one message – referring to the subject of an allegation made following a 2019 wedding ceremony.
In a memo on Saturday, Zucker informed CNN staff that he had terminated the younger Cuomo.
“It goes without saying that these decisions are not easy, and there are a lot of complex factors involved. But, as always, it was important to me to be upfront with each of you,” Zucker wrote.
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Andrew Cuomo resigned in August amid his dueling scandals, and has since been replaced by his former deputy, Democrat Kathy Hochul.
The once-eminent brothers are the sons of the late New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, who himself was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, who decided against a presidential run at his political peak in 1988.