Chris Cuomo was already doomed at CNN after the New York state attorney general’s report described the extent of his role in guiding his brother Andrew’s sexual harassment crisis.
But a sexual misconduct claim against the fired anchor — made by a former colleague at ABC News — accelerated the stunning end of his career at the cable news network.
Cuomo’s termination Saturday ended a long embarrassing chapter at CNN, where network President Jeff Zucker and his team went to great lengths to retain one of the network’s most popular anchors in the face of mounting problems that damaged the organization’s reputation.
CNN suspended Cuomo on Tuesday, a day after the release of a report from the office of New York state Attorney General Letitia James showing that the journalist was deeply involved in shaping the defense of former governor Andrew Cuomo against harassment allegations. Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor in August.
An outside law firm was brought in by CNN to review the testimony by Chris Cuomo and other materials, such as text messages, which depict him developing strategies that included contacting journalists covering his brother’s situation. The probe found that Chris Cuomo committed a significant violation of CNN’s journalistic standards that prohibit an employee from acting on behalf of a political figure or cause and that the network had grounds to fire him.
Cuomo’s situation took a turn for the worse on Wednesday when attorney Debra Katz informed CNN that she represented a former ABC News colleague of Cuomo’s who accused him of sexual misconduct. Cuomo worked at ABC News from 2000 until he moved to CNN in 2013.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Katz said by Friday she was “in discussions with CNN about providing documentary evidence of my client’s allegations and making my client available for an interview with CNN’s outside counsel.”
Katz is not identifying her client, who was an underling to Cuomo during his tenure at ABC News. She would not reveal the details of the allegations beyond describing them as “serious sexual misconduct.”
Katz said the woman decided to come forward after hearing details of the attorney general’s report and Chris Cuomo’s on-air proclamations that he “cared very deeply” about the issue of sexual harassment.
“The attorney general released jaw-dropping documentary evidence demonstrating that Chris Cuomo played an active role in attempting to smear women whom the attorney general concluded had made serious allegations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against the governor,” Katz said. “Hearing the hypocrisy of Chris Cuomo’s on-air words and disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women, my client retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN.”