CNN suspends host Chris Cuomo over defence of his brother

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CNN has suspended star news host Chris Cuomo “indefinitely” after New York’s attorney-general released transcripts showing that he was far more involved in the defence of his brother, the embattled former state governor, than had previously been known.

Andrew Cuomo was forced to resign from office in August after Letitia James, the New York attorney-general, found that he had violated state and federal law by sexually harassing 11 women.

CNN, the television news network owned by AT&T, said Chris Cuomo had admitted that he broke the network’s rules when he offered advice to his brother’s staff.

But the documents released by James’ office on Monday showed a much deeper level of involvement than had been previously known, the network said.

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“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,” CNN said. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

The latest documents provide a fresh headache for CNN over its anchor’s relationship with his brother. After becoming a national political hero during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Cuomo has suffered a number of allegations that ultimately led to his resignation.

As more and more women came forward with accusations against Andrew Cuomo, his brother did not cover the news on his show. However, he did provide counsel to senior aides on how to handle the crisis, and tried to find out what stories rival news outlets were working on, raising questions about CNN’s journalistic standards.

Anderson Cooper will take Chris Cuomo’s primetime 9pm slot on Tuesday evening.

Chris Cuomo in May apologised to viewers for advising his brother. “I understand why that was a problem for CNN . . . it was a mistake,” he said. “I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family.”

The predicament comes as CNN is preparing for a change in ownership. Earlier this year AT&T, the Texas telecommunications group, agreed to sell its WarnerMedia subsidiary, which includes CNN, to Discovery. That deal awaits regulatory approval.

David Zaslav, the Discovery chief who will preside over CNN if the deal is approved, visited the network’s headquarters on Tuesday for a pre-scheduled meeting with top executives, according to people familiar with the matter.

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