After media noticed primetime host Chris Cuomo's lack of coverage of Tuesday's report detailing the allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, it has been revealed that CNN gave Cuomo license to take a leave to advise his embattled brother.
CNN's offer of a leave of absence while he advises his brother was "informal and strictly optional — not a request," The New York Times reported Wednesday, citing anonymous sources.
CNN called Chris Cuomo's acting as personal adviser to the governor while remaining as an anchor on the network "inappropriate." And, instead of taking CNN's offer of a leave of absence, Chris Cuomo decided he would just refrain from covering his brother on his show "Cuomo Prime Time."
Still, the conflicts of interest are notable, not just for the Cuomos, but the network, the Times reported.
"The exchange, which has not been previously reported, underlines the conundrum for a news network whose top-rated anchor belongs to one of the country's most powerful Democratic families — and the lengths that CNN’s president, Jeff Zucker, and his team have gone to accommodate Chris Cuomo, even as the anchor has had to apologize for participating in strategy sessions with Andrew Cuomo's aides," the Times' Michael Grynbaum wrote.
The Times noted Cuomo covered President Joe Biden's comments from the White House on Tuesday, but left out the portion where Biden called on Gov. Cuomo to resign.
Also, Chris Cuomo himself was interviewed for New York Attorney General Letitia James' report on Gov. Cuomo, but that was not covered either, and CNN declined to comment on that to the Times.
"Chris Cuomo's on-air presence was a clear signal that Mr. Zucker is fully behind the network's 9 p.m. anchor, who told viewers in May that, while he had made 'a mistake' by talking with his brother's aides, his loyalty would always be to 'family first, job second,'" Grynbaum wrote.
Even some CNN colleagues are dismayed at Chris Cuomo's silence on the allegations now, while sources told the Times he should have been disciplined by the network.
Chris Cuomo's avoiding the conflict of interest in covering his brother's latest scandal might be a planned omission by the anchor and the network, but it also calls into question the ethics of CNN's other coverage of the governor. For example CNN having hailed the Gov. Cuomo for his COVID-19 pandemic response, but staying silent on sexual misconduct allegations and an investigation into his nursing home mandate.
Gov. Cuomo mandated long-term care facilities to take in COVID-19 patients at the start of the pandemic, despite widespread knowledge in the scientific community that senior citizens were among the most vulnerable to serious COVID-19 complications and death.
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