CNN anchor Chris Cuomo should resign from covering politics or be fired for helping his older brother craft statements to deal with sexual harassment allegations, an MSNBC columnist said Wednesday.
An investigation directed by the New York state attorney general determined Gov. Andrew Cuomo created a "hostile work environment for women" by "among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching.”
Chris Cuomo was among a group of advisors who were provided confidential and privileged information as his Democrat governor brother tried to respond to a slew of sexual harassment allegations, Attorney General Letitia James' report revealed, the New York Post reported.
The younger Cuomo even sent an email in February to other advisers of the governor with a proposed statement he either drafted or edited, the Post said.
Journalist Laura Bassett, in an opinion column for MSNBC, said Chris Cuomo needs to "resign from covering politics or be fired."
"CNN's viewers deserve better than a news anchor who is working on behalf of a politician he covers and helps to manipulate public opinion of him," Bassett wrote. "Both Cuomo brothers have amassed massive power and influence, while betraying public trust. And both brothers must go."
Bassett said it was "extremely inappropriate and unethical for a journalist to advise and craft the statements of a politician, regardless of family relation," adding that the TV personality interviewed his brother on CNN multiple times about the governors coronavirus response "as scores of New Yorkers were dying in a pandemic."
"In one interview, Chris Cuomo told Andrew Cuomo he is 'the best politician in the country,'" Bassett said. "The anchor's attempt at a journalistic compromise was to abstain from interviewing his brother about the sexual harassment scandal. But both men's careers have benefited greatly from their cheeky, high-profile, softball interviews during a very dark time in the nation’s history.
"And viewers were largely unaware of the role Chris Cuomo was playing to help his brother behind the scenes."
Bassett wrote that the attorney general's investigation determined that 11 women, nine of whom are current or former state employees, said the governor touched their bodies under their shirts, kissed them on the lips or made sexual advances, and retaliated against one of them when they complained.
"Fair reporting and scrutiny of Andrew Cuomo over the past 18 months could have been a game changer," Bassett wrote. "He was lionized at the beginning of the pandemic for holding frequent and factual news briefings about the virus when then-President Donald Trump was trying to downplay it. He appeared to be such a hero, for a moment, that he accepted a multimillion-dollar book deal about his own leadership in a crisis.
"The New York Times later reported that Andrew Cuomo’s team had covered up thousands of nursing home deaths to make New York’s death toll look better. (Cuomo said claims of data inaccuracies are a 'lie' while admitting 'we should have provided more information faster.') Now, unsurprisingly, he seems to be lying again about his egregious and illegal treatment of women."
Chris Cuomo did not mention the scandal engulfing his brother during his show Tuesday, the Post reported. He also has failed to address on-air the governor's related nursing-home death scandal.
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