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Chris Cuomo Preparing to Sue CNN and Demand $18 Million Plus Damages, Media Says

Chris Cuomo - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.12.2021
The TV presenter was fired by the channel on 5 December after it learned about how Chris Cuomo helped his elder brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, fight sexual harassment allegations, in breach of journalistic norms.
Chris Cuomo is preparing to sue CNN and demand $18 million from the channel, the New York Post has reported, citing its sources. According to them, the 51-year-old has filed a lawsuit and is ready to engage in a court battle with CNN over his four-year work contract, which he signed last year. Under the deal, the journalist was reportedly paid $6 million annually, which means that he is owed around $18 million.

One source told the outlet that the TV presenter also intends to seek damages from the channel. Another insider told the tabloid that CNN has "no intention of paying [Chris] Cuomo a penny". "If he gets a settlement, there would be uproar", the source said.

Still another insider confirmed that Chris Cuomo is unlikely to get any reimbursement from the channel as "CNN has a standard morality clause in their contract that says if the employee does anything of disrepute, they can be immediately fired".

Andrew Cuomo Saga

The ongoing standoff between the TV host and his employer stems from the sexual harassment accusations made against his elder brother Andrew Cuomo. The then-governor of New York was accused by several women of inappropriate behaviour such as kissing them against their will and groping.
The politician has categorically denied the accusations, branding them a plot to oust him from office and remained adamant despite widespread calls from fellow party members, including President Joe Biden, to step down.

When the scandal broke the younger Cuomo said he wouldn't cover the story about his brother as this would be a conflict of interest.

"Obviously I am 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. I have always cared very deeply about (the issue of sexual harassment) and profoundly so", Chris Cuomo said in March.

Two months later the US media reported that the TV presenter was not sincere. The Washington Post said that he was helping his brother's aides respond to the sexual harassment allegations. The newspaper said that it was Chris Cuomo who advised his brother to take a defiant position at the beginning of the scandal and not give in to calls to resign.

Cuomo issued a statement in which he apologised to the public, calling his actions a "mistake". At the same time, he noted that he was acting not as an adviser, but as a brother.

"I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family. Those of you who watch this show get it. Like you, I bet, my family means everything to me. And I am fiercely loyal to them. I'm family first, job second. I was there to listen and offer my take and my advice to my brother was simple and consistent. I'm not an adviser, I'm a brother", Cuomo said adding that he advised his sibling to resign.

At the time, CNN didn't take disciplinary action against its presenter, although it admitted that his actions were "inappropriate". The channel's president, Jeff Zucker, backed Chris Cuomo, saying the anchor was "human" and faced "very unique circumstances". CNN even offered the journalist a leave of absence if he wished to help his brother. It is said that Chris Cuomo and Jeff Zucker have a close relationship and the channel's president stood by him even when other high-ranking employees called for his dismissal.

Was CNN's President Aware of Cuomo's Actions?

Zucker, however, changed his stance following the release of information collected as part of a probe into Andrew Cuomo. The documents published last week showed that Chris Cuomo was deeply involved in helping his brother fight the accusations of sexual harassment and that he did act as an adviser to his sibling.

The probe showed that the TV presenter used his connections to research his brother's accusers and made inquiries about the status of the articles on the issue in various outlets. "I have a lead [on one accuser]", Chris Cuomo wrote to his brother's aides.
CNN first suspended the TV presenter indefinitely.

"[The newly-released] documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than we previously knew. As a result we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation", CNN said in a statement.
Yet, on 5 December Cuomo was fired, with reports saying that the decision on his dismissal was made after the channel was informed that a woman had accused Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct.

On Monday, the journalist's spokesman told The Wall Street Journal that CNN's president was fully aware about his involvement in the Andrew Cuomo scandal and that there are individuals who can corroborate the claim.

"They were widely known to be extremely close and in regular contact, including about the details of Mr Cuomo's support for his brother. There were no secrets about this, as other individuals besides Mr Cuomo can attest", the spokesman said.

CNN has dismissed the statement as lies.

"[Chris Cuomo] has made a number of accusations that are patently false. This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor", the channel told the newspaper.

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