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CNN Says Chris Cuomo Erred in Advising Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Misconduct Claims

05/20/2021 | 02:35pm EDT

By Benjamin Mullin and Jimmy Vielkind

CNN said that anchor Chris Cuomo's decision to participate in strategy sessions with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on the handling of sexual-harassment allegations against the governor was a mistake, adding that it wouldn't discipline the journalist.

The cable news network said Thursday that the younger Mr. Cuomo's participation in calls earlier this year with members of Andrew Cuomo's staff and other advisers was inappropriate and that he wouldn't join in similar discussions.

"Chris has not been involved in CNN's extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo -- on air or behind the scenes," a CNN spokesman said. "In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother."

Five women who are either current or former Cuomo administration employees have accused the Democratic governor of sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior. He is facing multiple investigations involving the misconduct claims as well as state policies on Covid-19 in nursing homes.

Andrew Cuomo has denied the sexual-harassment allegations, defended the state's handling of coronavirus cases in nursing-home facilities and said he is cooperating with probes. He said he has never touched anybody inappropriately and apologized if his behavior made anyone uncomfortable. The governor has consistently rebuffed calls for his resignation.

Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said, "There were a few phone conversations with friends and advisers giving the governor advice."

CNN is owned by AT&T Inc.'s WarnerMedia. AT&T announced Monday it would spin off and merge WarnerMedia with Discovery Inc.

The Washington Post earlier reported that Chris Cuomo participated in strategy calls with his elder brother.

The CNN anchor, who hosts "Cuomo Prime Time" on weeknights, told viewers earlier this year that he wouldn't be discussing accusations against his brother on air because of their close ties.

"Obviously I'm aware of what's going on with my brother," the younger Mr. Cuomo said during his show on March 1. "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."

The CNN anchor's decision not to cover the misconduct claims came after a number of occasions when he interviewed his brother as a guest on his show last year. During those segments, which aired around the worst periods of New York's experience with the Covid-19 pandemic, the two siblings discussed the governor's handling of the crisis, often with jocular fraternal banter.

Anchors and hosts commonly refrain from covering topics with which they have personal ties, to avoid real or perceived conflicts of interest, a practice that hosts at other cable networks have sometimes been accused of breaching. After Fox News host Sean Hannity appeared onstage during a rally for then-President Donald Trump during the 2018 midterm elections, the network said it "was an unfortunate distraction" that had been addressed.

Khadeeja Safdar contributed to this article.

Write to Benjamin Mullin at Benjamin.Mullin@wsj.com and Jimmy Vielkind at Jimmy.Vielkind@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-20-21 1635ET

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