The statement CNN released Saturday when announcing the immediate termination of network anchor Chris Cuomo raised more questions than it provided answers.
But a new report may have shed light on the mystery within the statement.
What did CNN say?
In the statement CNN released, the network said that while conducting an investigation into Cuomo, “additional information” surfaced.
“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,” the statement read. “We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately.”
“While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light,” CNN added. “Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”
The network, however, declined to disclose details about the “additional information,” triggering speculation and questions on social media.
What did the new reporting say?
The New York Times reported Saturday that a prominent lawyer contacted CNN on Wednesday and explained she had a client lodging new accusations of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo.
The Times reported:
On Wednesday, Debra S. Katz, a prominent employment lawyer, informed CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo. Ms. Katz said in a statement on Saturday that the allegation against the anchor, which was made by a former junior colleague at another network, was “unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter.”
It was not fully clear what role the allegation played in CNN’s decision to dismiss Mr. Cuomo. Ms. Katz is also the lawyer for Charlotte Bennett, a onetime aide to Andrew Cuomo who accused the former governor in February of sexual harassment.
The reporting confirmed what a New York Post reporter said. “Source tell me the ‘additional information’ that’s come to light mentioned at end of CNN statement are sexual harassment allegations,” Julia Marsh, the New York Post’s City Hall Bureau Chief, tweeted.
When asked about the new allegations, CNN said the network took the accusations “seriously,” and decided to take immediate action.
“Based on the report we received regarding Chris’s conduct with his brother’s defense, we had cause to terminate. When new allegations came to us this week, we took them seriously, and saw no reason to delay taking immediate action,” CNN told the Times.
According to the Times, Katz said her client “came forward because she was disgusted by Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements in response to the allegations made against his brother, Gov. Andrew Cuomo,” citing comments Chris Cuomo made in March when he said, “I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just wanted to tell you that.”
What did Cuomo say in response?
Steven Goldberg, a spokesman for Chris Cuomo, said the new allegations are not true.
“These apparently anonymous allegations are not true,” Goldberg told the Times.
Goldberg added that Cuomo “fully stands by his on-air statements about his connection to these issues, both professionally and in a profoundly personal way. If the goal in making these false and unvetted accusations was to see Mr. Cuomo punished by CNN, that may explain his unwarranted termination.”
The allegations are the second claims of sexual misconduct against Cuomo. Veteran TV producer Shelley Ross went public in September, accusing Cuomo of inappropriate touching when they were colleagues at ABC News in 2005.
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