CNN's Jeff Zucker downplays Chris Cuomo advising brother as 'mistake' at staff town hall meeting
Network retained Cuomo and Jeffrey Toobin but axed Rick Santorum over recent controversial remarks
CNN President Jeff Zucker told disgruntled employees on a Tuesday staff meeting that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo made a "mistake" when he advised his brother New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., on handling multiple sexual harassment allegations.
Zucker said while he wasn't surprised he advised his brother, Cuomo "crossed a line" by speaking with Gov. Cuomo's aides present. Zucker said he didn't see the point of punishing him for his "mistake," according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
A CNN source confirmed the meeting's substance to Fox News, saying "everyone is [angry]."
CHRIS CUOMO AND HIS PROBLEMATIC YEAR AT CNN
Cuomo, a left-wing primetime opinion host, also called his behavior a "mistake" during an on-air apology last week, but he also defiantly said he had never hidden that he offered his brother advice.
While Zucker refused to punish Cuomo, the network fired former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum from his political commentator role after his controversial comments about Native Americans.
While on the call, Zucker said Santorum was given an opportunity to apologize for his comments, which Zucker described as racist and inappropriate, but failed to do so.
One issue Zucker didn’t address on the call was the network's relationship with Jeffery Toobin. Toobin, who is still listed on CNN’s website as its chief legal analyst, was seen masturbating on a New Yorker staff Zoom call in October.
SANTORUM BOOTED FROM CNN OVER ‘RACIST COMMENT, BUT KEEPS SCANDAL-PLAGUED CHRIS CUOMO
The New Yorker fired Toobin following the incident but his employment status with CNN remains unknown. The only statement CNN has provided on Toobin was that last year he "asked for some time off while he deals with a personal issue," which CNN granted.
CNN hasn’t issued any further comments on Toobin’s relationship with the news network.
Cuomo's scandal, meanwhile, is only his latest controversy at the network.
During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, Chris Cuomo was allowed to conduct chummy interviews with his brother, which critics said violated journalistic ethics. The interviews also took place amidst Gov. Cuomo's reversal of his coronavirus nursing home directive; since then, he has been accused of covering up nursing home deaths from federal authorities.
Another controversy involved Chris Cuomo receiving special treatment from his brother’s administration by getting prioritized COVID testing during the early months of the pandemic.
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Also, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson obtained 2018 audio recordings of Cuomo giving advice to ex-Trump lawyer and frequent CNN guest Michael Cohen. In the audio, Cuomo is heard complaining about possible sexual misconduct allegations against him while he was working at ABC News. He denied the allegations during the conversation.
Fox News' David Rutz contributed to this report.