CNN anchor Chris Cuomo engaged in “inappropriate” conversations with the staff of his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the cable network said Thursday, though he took himself out of on-air coverage of the sexual harassment allegations against his brother.
Chris Cuomo encouraged his brother to take a “defiant position” amid growing calls for his resignation, The Post said. Two people present on one call told the newspaper that Chris Cuomo brought up “cancel culture” when encouraging his brother to stand his ground in the scandal.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” a spokesperson for the cable network told NBC News. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
He would not be participating in future calls, as CNN said Chris Cuomo acknowledged it was “inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff.” The prime-time anchor will not face discipline from the network.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told NBC News that there were “a few phone calls” with Andrew Cuomo, friends and advisers.
Chris Cuomo addressed the issue on his show Thursday night and apologized to colleagues, adding that he has not covered the allegations against his brother and has been “walled off” from CNN’s coverage.
“When my brother’s situation became turbulent, being looped into calls with other friends of his and advisors that did include some of his staff — I understand why that was a problem for CNN,” he said.
“It will not happen again. It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” he said. “I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I am sorry for that.”
More than a half-dozen women, including staffers, have publicly accused Andrew Cuomo of harassment. The governor has denied touching anyone inappropriately but acknowledged that he may have acted in ways that made people feel uncomfortable.
Though Andrew Cuomo initially apologized for his actions, he has since pushed back and claimed that making someone uncomfortable is not harassment.
“Harassment is not making someone feel uncomfortable — that is not harassment,” the governor said last week. “If I just made you feel uncomfortable, that is not harassment. That’s you feeling uncomfortable.”
The statement was made after Rebecca Lewis, a reporter for the website City & State New York, asked whether he’d acknowledge that the motivation behind his alleged harassing comments to accuser Charlotte Bennett were irrelevant.
New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against Andrew Cuomo, including Bennett’s.
Phil Helsel contributed.