Brian Stelter Suggests CNN’s Chris Cuomo Should Take Leave of Absence

Cuomo has come under fire for participating in strategy calls with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, about handling sexual harassment accusations

Brian Stelter Chris Cuomo

“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter Sunday addressed the ongoing scandal surrounding fellow CNN anchor Chris Cuomo doling out advice to his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over accusations of sexual harassment. Stelter asked his Sunday panel: When the anchor is also the governor’s brother, where is the line?

This past Thursday, The Washington Post reported that Chris Cuomo urged his brother not to resign on a call that included the governor’s aides, lawyers and other outside advisors, making repeated references to “cancel culture.” In the days that followed, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that staffers and reporters at the network were “bothered” by the news anchor’s participation on the call even after he apologized on his show Thursday evening.

Stelter asked Columbia University research scholar and CNN contributor Nicole Hemmer whether Cuomo should take a leave of absence over the new reports, which she said was a reasonable option.

“It’s not unusual for people in the media and politicians to have relationships, but if you entangle them, you have to be absolutely cautious about this,” she said. “A leave of absence is a good way to acknowledge the conflicts of interest that are there. This is something that should have happened and certainly should happen going forward if he wants to rebuild his credibility.”

Since the scandal arose, Cuomo has said on-air that while other CNN programs would cover the ongoing investigation against the governor, he would not do so himself due to his familial relationship.

But Stelter also noted that long before the accusations against Andrew Cuomo by multiple former staffers surfaced, he had appeared several times on his brother’s CNN show for some lighthearted interviews last year while the governor was enjoying surging approval ratings over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Washington Post columnist Perry Bacon Jr. called that those interviews the “original sin” both for the anchor and CNN.

“I found those interviews good, engaging; they were informal, they were humorous at times,” Bacon said. “That said, at the time I had the same thoughts: ‘Is this the right way to go?’ And now we’ve seen how the governor handled COVID and how there were some real problems there in terms of disclosure and honesty. 

“I don’t think his brother was the right person to probe that,” he continued. “It’s going to be hard to criticize or suspend Chris Cuomo now after you’ve allowed a kind of non-journalistic, or bad journalistic practice.” 

Watch the full “Reliable Sources” segment in the clip above.


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