Chris Cuomo returned to his prime-time CNN show for the first time on Monday since his brother, Andrew Cuomo, announced he would resign from his role as New York Governor amid a sexual harassment scandal.
The younger Cuomo attempted to distance himself from his brother, who said he would step down as governor after a report by the state attorney general found that the Democrat had sexually harassed at least eleven women, many of them state employees, in violation of state and federal law.
Cuomo and CNN have come under fire for violating journalistic ethics following reports that he had worked as an unofficial adviser to his brother.
Still, the journalist defended his actions on air on Monday after returning from a previously scheduled vacation — even as he acknowledged advising his brother to resign.
“I never covered my brother’s troubles because I obviously have a conflict and there are rules at CNN about that,” Cuomo said.
He said as the scandal first took hold earlier this year that he “tried to be there for my brother.”
“I’m not an adviser,” he said. “I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and offer my take.”
“While it was something I never imagined ever having to, I did urge my brother to resign when the time came,” he added.
The state attorney general’s report that led to Andrew Cuomo’s resignation said Chris Cuomo was part of the governor’s “team of advisors,” a group of people who counseled the disgraced governor “to express contrition” when the allegations first became public. According to the report, which relied upon internal documents and communications, the younger Cuomo went so far as to draft a statement responding to the allegations, which the governor released almost verbatim.
Earlier this year after the Washington Post reported that Chris Cuomo had participated in strategy sessions with his brother’s top aides in violation of CNN rules, the journalist apologized on air.
At the time, CNN noted that he had not reported on his brother’s scandal, though it acknowledged “it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.”
However, the network said he would not be disciplined.
Chris Cuomo again apologized on Monday, growing defensive.
“There are stories and critics saying all kinds of things about me, many unsupportive,” he said. “But … I never misled anyone about the information I was delivering or not delivering on this program. I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
While Chris Cuomo has not been involved in the network’s coverage of his brother’s scandals, he did interview his brother six times as the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Though CNN had previously not allowed the anchor to interview his brother, the network made an exception as it said it believed the exchanges were of significant human interest.
Chris Cuomo stood by those interviews on Monday, saying he had always said they “would be short-lived. And they were. The last was over a year ago, long before any kind of scandal.”
“I also said back then that a day would come when he would have to be held to account, and I can’t do that,” he said. “I said point-blank, I can’t be objective when it comes to my family.”