‘Good Riddance’ to Chris Cuomo. And ‘Are You Kidding Me?’ to His New Admirers
On Tuesday, CNN announced that they had suspended Chris Cuomo. The news came shortly after new documents were released by the New York attorney general’s office, who are currently looking into multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault levied against Cuomo’s brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The documents revealed that Chris had done much more than just advise his brother on his political and legal woes (as was previously reported). He also used CNN’s resources to dig up information on Andrew’s accusers, and pass that information along to the governor’s office to assist with his brother’s defense.
CNN released the following statement on the matter:
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense. The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
Many expect the suspension will lead to Cuomo's firing.
It was the right move by CNN, though there’s a strong case to be made that they should have taken action earlier, and also that the network had previously allowed Cuomo to engage in unacceptable conflicts of interest when it came to his brother.
“For years, the network banned Chris Cuomo from interviewing his brother, a commonsense precaution,” wrote David Graham in a piece for The Atlantic. “But in the spring of 2020, as the coronavirus ravaged the country, Andrew Cuomo presented himself as a competent counterpart to Donald Trump’s pandemic bungling. CNN, knowing ratings gold when it saw it, decided to put the brothers on air together, apparently concluding that the rules mattered less in the midst of a crisis.”
“The exchanges between them were entertaining…” added Graham. “Journalistically, however, the shtick was appalling…”
Graham’s right, of course, and if CNN executives are at all concerned about the network’s credibility (which is a big “if”), they should indeed fire Cuomo.
Unsurprisingly, regular critics of CNN (especially in the right-wing media) had a field day over the suspension, taking the opportunity to taunt Cuomo in fairly sharp terms. And frankly, they had every right to, especially considering how sanctimonious Cuomo had long been in his lectures of Fox News and other MAGA-heavy outlets for their lack of journalistic ethics.
But Cuomo did find one unlikely admirer among his Fox News detractors, at least in the way he’d helped his brother go after his female accusers: Tucker Carlson.
On Tuesday night, after taking several shots at Cuomo for being an “idiot” and narcissist, Carlson used his prime-time show to proclaim that what Cuomo did was actually… an act of nobility.
“Helping his brother is not the worst thing he ever did,” Carlson said. “In fact, it may have been the best thing he ever did. Not because Andrew Cuomo was a good person. He certainly wasn’t a good person. Andrew Cuomo was loathsome. But Andrew Cuomo was Chris Cuomo’s brother and that’s what you do with brothers, even the loathsome ones. You help them when they need it. Period.”
“Your most basic obligation is to the people you are related to,” Carlson added. “When they need your help, no matter who they are — even if you’re the governor of a state, even if they’re horrible people — you help them anyway because it’s your family. Chris Cuomo may be an idiot – and he is – but he understands that.”
Carlson even shared his argument on his Twitter account, which he doesn’t use all that often. This started a big social media discussion, with a number of Carlson's fans (and other right-wing pundits) deciding that he was absolutely right, and that they would have done the same thing for their family if they had been in Chris Cuomo’s position.
Now, assuming that Carlson actually believes what he said in his inflexible statement (and that’s a big assumption), one has to wonder what he himself may have done behind the scenes over the years, using his positions at Fox and elsewhere, to “help” members of his family.
Regardless, the supposedly moral argument he was trying to make is absurd, as one of my Twitter follows aptly pointed out:
In other words, blood may be thicker than water, but there is no moral or ethical argument for going after your blood’s victims. This should be especially obvious in the case of your blood being a sexual predator.
One can always help out a family member (even a “horrible” one) in ways that aren’t morally and ethically repugnant. One can help in ways that don’t re-victimize an individual. But such nuance, unfortunately, seems lost on people like Cuomo and Carlson.
I suppose a larger point to be made is that if you’re looking for substantive moral arguments and examples of noble behavior, today's cable news is not the place you should be spending your time.