CNN’s Chris Cuomo testified ‘media noise’ compelled on-air statement about not covering brother’s scandals

Embattled CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said “media noise” compelled him to speak out on his program in March about why he could not cover his older brother Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal, according to newly released testimony.

During questioning by New York state investigators into the scandal, Cuomo was asked what prompted him to break weeks of on-air silence and address the mounting harassment allegations against his brother.

“Noise,” Cuomo said, according to the transcript, adding, “Media noise … About me not covering or covering my brother.”

CNN television news anchor Chris Cuomo poses as he arrives at the WarnerMedia Upfront event in New York City, New York, U.S., May 15, 2019.

CNN television news anchor Chris Cuomo poses as he arrives at the WarnerMedia Upfront event in New York City, New York, U.S., May 15, 2019.
(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Cuomo’s March 1 monologue to open the show was his way of explaining why he would continue to not discuss the allegations on his program, “Cuomo Prime Time.”

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“You’re straight with me. I’ll be straight with you,” he said at the time. “Obviously I’m aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course, CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”

Cuomo hit the airwaves moments after The New York Times published a report that a third woman had accused the governor of making inappropriate advances toward her at a 2019 wedding reception.

He neglected to mention, however, that he was at the time one of the governor’s top outside advisers on the matter, which would come out in May. He would later call that a “mistake” and not be reprimanded by the network.

A farewell speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is broadcast live on a screen in Times Square on his final day in office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 23, 2021.

A farewell speech by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is broadcast live on a screen in Times Square on his final day in office in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 23, 2021.
(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Cuomo also was defensive of his employer during his testimony in July, saying questions that were “not legitimate” were being raised at the time about whether CNN would cover then-Gov. Cuomo’s legal and political woes.

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“There are rhetorical questions, there are questions that are being asked to just to be antagonistic … There are questions that are said for informational basis. And there are questions that have a concern of policy,” he said. “And I don’t think this checked any box other than the antagonism. CNN was always going to cover it. They had always covered my brother for better or worse.”

After weeks of pressure, CNN did cover Andrew Cuomo’s scandals over his COVID-19 policies and harassment allegations, the latter leading to his eventual political downfall. However, the same outlet had allowed its star anchor to do a series of chummy interviews with his powerful Democratic brother at the outset of the pandemic in 2020, which was dismissed as harmless and even praised in some media corners at the time but was covered retrospectively as inappropriate and even unethical.

CNN took heat for allowing the interviews and admitting to reversing its self-imposed ban on Chris Cuomo interviewing his brother since he joined the network in 2013, only to reinstate it as Gov. Cuomo’s political star began to fall. 

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CNN’s liberal anchors, Chris Cuomo included, were also among the many media personalities who heaped praise on the governor for how he handled the pandemic when it first hit New York. 

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