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In Wrongful Termination Complaint, Chris Cuomo Claims CNN Also Advised Brother

CNN used Cuomo as a scapegoat after conflict of interest concerns were levied against the network, his lawyer alleges.

Chris Cuomo attends the 12th Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute at American Museum of Natural History on December 9, 2018, in New York City.

Chris Cuomo, a former news personality at CNN who was fired late last year, is requesting that an arbitrator award him $125 million for what he alleges was a wrongful termination.

In his complaint, Cuomo claims that his firing has made it more difficult for him to get related work elsewhere. He also says that he was fired for actions that other anchors in the company engaged in, as well as CNN itself.

The network’s former head, Jeff Zucker, fired Cuomo in December after the news personality gave advice to his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), relating to the sexual assault and harassment accusations made against him. Such actions go against ethical practices that most journalists try to adhere to.

Cuomo was suspended, and subsequently fired, due to “his involvement with his brother’s defense,” the network said at the time.

According to Cuomo’s complaint against CNN, however, he had been upfront with the network about working with his brother. Additionally, Cuomo alleges that the network had also involved itself in helping the former New York governor respond to sexual assault allegations.

“It should be obvious by now that Chris Cuomo did not lie to CNN about helping his brother. In fact, as the limited information released from Warner Media’s investigation makes clear, CNN’s highest-level executives not only knew about Chris’ involvement in helping his brother but also actively assisted the governor, both through Chris and directly themselves,” said Cuomo’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman.

The complaint also alleged that other CNN personalities had acted similarly. Don Lemon, for example, gave advice to Jussie Smollett, an actor who is alleged to have faked being a victim of a hate crime. Jake Tapper also provided advice to a different politician, Cuomo alleged in his complaint against the network.

Neither of those two individuals have faced repercussions for their actions, showcasing the network’s hypocrisy, Cuomo maintains.

Cuomo interviewed his older brother nine times in 2020, which went against a previous network policy that said he should avoid doing so because it would be a conflict of interest. During those interviews, Chris Cuomo frequently praised his brother’s handling of the pandemic, calling him “the best politician in the country” and saying that he was “wowed” by his brother’s response to the crisis, even as his administration underreported the number of nursing home deaths from the virus in a deliberate attempt to mislead the public.

Freedman alleges that changes to network policy were made “in a calculated decision to boost ratings.”

“When those practices were called into question, Chris was made the scapegoat,” Freedman added.

The network stopped having Andrew Cuomo on as a guest after several women accused him of behaving inappropriately toward them during his many years in New York politics. In a report issued by state Attorney General Letitia James, 11 women provided accounts alleging that the former governor had sexually harassed and/or assaulted them, including kissing them inappropriately and in some cases groping them without their consent.

However, all five charges against Cuomo were dropped in January after prosecutors cited insufficient evidence to move forward with the investigation.

In spite of most New Yorkers still viewing him disfavorably, Andrew Cuomo recently suggested that he may make a return to state politics, saying that he may run again for governor someday and possibly even form his own political party in order to do so.

“I’ve done it before. My father’s done it before,” he said, regarding the latter possibility.

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