CNN’s Brian Stelter dunked on fired network host Chris Cuomo on Saturday while breaking the news to CNN’s television audience live on the air.
Stelter said that Cuomo “violated journalistic ethics and norms not once or twice, but many times,” adding that Cuomo “had been suspended not just, you know, for a week, not in the kind of way that’s a fake suspension to take pressure off CNN, this was a real suspension.”
When talking about the “additional information” that the network learned about Cuomo during the course of their investigation, Stelter said he did not know if CNN would ever reveal what that information was.
“I think this may be a situation, Jim, just drawing on my years as a media reporter, I think this may be a situation where it was death by a 1,000 cuts, where there were just so many headaches, time and time again, involving Chris Cuomo, that even though many viewers loved watching ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ and looked forward to his show, that he was causing so many headaches for the network and for CNN staffers, that ultimately this decision was reached,” Stelter said. “That’s just drawing on my background, you know, covering other stories like this. I do think, you know, this is a moment where journalistic ethics are at play. And I know there were many CNN staffers very unhappy with the situation, very frustrated by Chris Cuomo.”
JIM ACOSTA: We have breaking news to report to you right now about CNN anchor Chris Cuomo. Earlier this week, Cuomo was suspended from CNN after documents revealed he had been involved more than previously known in shaping his brother’s, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, defense. Cuomo, Chris Cuomo we should point out, has now been terminated here at CNN. That’s the latest breaking news about what’s happening here at CNN. I want to get to CNN’s Brian Stelter. Brian, obviously this is huge news, not only inside CNN but for this industry. What can you tell us?
BRIAN STELTER: Yes, Chris Cuomo, one of the most popular anchors at CNN, one of the best known names in television news, violated journalistic ethics and norms not once or twice, but many times. And that’s ultimately, what is the result of today’s news, Jim. As you mentioned, Cuomo just terminated by CNN this afternoon. And here’s the statement from management explaining the decision, saying, “Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week, pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense. We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.” So this is a big surprise for a lot of people. Jim, I didn’t expect to be on with you this evening, talking about this breaking news. But we did know that Cuomo had been suspended not just, you know, for a week, not in the kind of way that’s a fake suspension to take pressure off CNN, this was a real suspension. He was put on the bench indefinitely while management conducted a review. What we didn’t know until tonight, Jim, is that an outside law firm also came in, and that the law firm went through the thousands of pages of text messages and sworn testimony that was released back on Monday. So there was clearly something in those documents that was found to be a serious breach of standards and practices. Of course, it was known months ago that Chris Cuomo was helping his brother, talking to his brother, while his brother was trying to hold on to the governorship and defending himself amid sexual harassment allegations. What we learned this week in those text messages, and in that sworn testimony, was that he basically was acting like a staffer. He was like an unpaid staffer for the governor. And he was doing that at the same time he was working for CNN. Now, there is one part of the statement, Jim, that we don’t know anything about. Now, just to be completely transparent with the audience. It says there’s additional information that also came to light sometime this week. We don’t know what that is. I’ve asked, there’s no answers coming on what that could be. What we do know is that Cuomo was terminated earlier today. We know in the past — I have reached out to Chris, asked him for comments, and have not heard back yet. We know in the past, he has said he always put family first. And he said he was sorry to put his CNN colleagues in a difficult situation. Now that difficult situation will not exist, because Chris Cuomo has been terminated.
ACOSTA: And Brian, do we know when this new information might be brought out to the public, and we’ll have a sense as to what this additional information was?
STELTER: I don’t know, actually, if it ever will, I think that’s very much unclear. You know, certainly in the years I’ve spent covering media, we know that companies try to keep these things as private as possible. But this is playing out in a very public stage because of Chris Cuomo’s prominence, and because of his relationship with his brother. I think this may be a situation Jim, just drawing on my years as a media reporter, I think this may be a situation where it was death by a 1,000 cuts, where there were just so many headaches, time and time again, involving Chris Cuomo, that even though many viewers loved watching “Cuomo Prime Time” and looked forward to his show, that he was causing so many headaches for the network and for CNN staffers, that ultimately this decision was reached. That’s just drawing on my background, you know, covering other stories like this. I do think, you know, this is a moment where journalistic ethics are at play. And I know there were many CNN staffers very unhappy with the situation, very frustrated by Chris Cuomo. At the same time, Jim, I was hearing from some fans of Chris, some viewers who said, we understood he was looking out for his family. This was always a very complicated situation. But I think the text messages and the documents this week, showing that he was very deeply involved, very cozy with the governor’s office, very improperly working with the aides, that was ultimately why this decision was announced tonight.
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