Wrapping Up the Chris Cuomo-CNN Story: “It was about arrogance.”

The Poynter Report with Tom Jones wraps up the Chris Cuomo-CNN story:

The character flaw that ended Chris Cuomo’s time at CNN is the same one that took down Andrew Cuomo as governor of New York.

That attribute? Arrogance, the entitled belief that the rules don’t necessarily apply to them, the misguided assumption that just because they do good in some parts of their jobs means they can be excused for ill-behavior in other parts.

Quite often, Chris Cuomo was very good at anchoring his prime-time cable news show. He certainly allowed his liberal views to ooze through in his commentary and coverage, but those who regularly watched his show likely shared those views and didn’t mind. Cuomo could be well-informed, engaging, charismatic, passionate and quick on his feet — all of the qualities that make a watchable TV host. That’s why his show had solid ratings.

But when multiple women accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, Chris believed he could abandon his journalistic ethics to defend his brother. The problem was Chris used his position as a powerful journalist to dig up information on what other journalists were working on when it came to reports about his brother. In addition, he misled viewers and his employers about how involved he was in helping his brother’s defense. And he offered media relations strategies against ugly allegations. All while continuing to hold one of the most important positions at one of the country’s leading media outlets.

If Chris wanted to help his brother, he should’ve taken a leave from the network and been totally transparent about why. But he could not serve both his employer and his brother. When you’re a journalist, you have an obligation to the viewer.

Instead, Chris allowed his arrogance to believe he could straddle the line of being a good journalist and good brother. Because of that arrogance, he believed there was nothing wrong with that. When called out for it, he was defiant and seemed irritated with anyone who criticized him, as if they didn’t understand words like “family” and “loyalty.” How dare you question me, seemed to be his stance. It’s the same arrogance that Andrew had in convincing himself that he did nothing wrong around women. He remained defiant about that even as he resigned.

It was arrogance that derailed both of their careers.

But, in the case of Chris, was there something else in addition to advising his brother?

The New York Times’ Michael M. Grynbaum, John Koblin and Jodi Kantor are reporting that “Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo.” That client is believed to have worked with Cuomo at ABC.

As the Times reported, it’s not known if that allegation had anything to do with CNN’s dismissal of Cuomo over the weekend. Katz also represents one of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s accusers. The Times reported, “Ms. Katz said that her client ‘came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.’”

It should be noted that part of CNN’s statement about Cuomo’s firing included this line: “When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action.”

Steven Goldberg, a representative of Chris Cuomo, put out a statement that said, “These apparently anonymous allegations are not true. To the extent that they were sent to CNN to negate what Chris Cuomo told his audience, he fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way.”

According to The Wall Street Journal’s Benjamin Mullin and Joe Flint, CNN boss Jeff Zucker originally backed Cuomo, but the attorney general’s report might have changed that. In a text to the Journal, a representative of Chris Cuomo said Cuomo was in “regular contact” with Zucker and “there were no secrets” about his support of his brother.

CNN responded with a statement that said, “(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.”

And, as the Times’ Jodi Kantor tweeted, “*Both* Cuomo brothers were unseated in the wake of #metoo allegations from younger coworkers.”

Why now and CNN’s coverage

Credit CNN for not shying away from Cuomo’s firing. In particular, Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” media program treated the story like it should as the biggest media news of the week.

Stelter asked the key question, which is why was Cuomo fired now when CNN knew for months that Cuomo was working behind the scenes with his brother and his brother’s advisers? (The Washington Post broke that story back in May.)

Well, for starters, apparently CNN didn’t know how involved Chris was until the attorney general’s report. And also credit CNN for hiring an outside firm to investigate the whole matter.

Meanwhile, Stelter framed Chris’ downfall as a “death by a thousand cuts” — meaning Chris seemed to be causing one headache after another for the network. Stelter is right. Chris’ credibility, as well as CNN as long as they kept him, had already been shot among some viewers. The network just couldn’t risk anything else.

CNN bungled some of this, but in the end, the network did the right thing. It parted ways with Cuomo.

Chris Cuomo put out a statement after his firing, saying this is not how he wanted his time at CNN to end. He also thanked his staff. But, according to The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Cartwright, Blake Montgomery and Zachary Petrizzo, Cuomo was “livid” over his firing.

The Daily Beast reported that one CNN insider told them, “Finally. Chris was a toxic and distracting presence. The network did the right thing.”

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