Chris Cuomo is battling it out with his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to see whose ratings can drop the lowest as more bad news rolls in about the politician’s scandal-plagued reign — news that his brother now says he will not be covering on air.
“Obviously I am aware of what’s going on with my brother, and obviously I cannot cover it, because he is my brother,” the CNN anchor said at the top of Cuomo Prime Time on Monday, March 1. “Now, of course CNN has to cover it, they have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
He then added: “I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so.”
This move comes after the Cuomo brothers appeared on-air together several times last spring for some light banter and laughs while the coronavirus pandemic ravaged both New York City and countless nursing homes around the state.
Those laughs were coming while Governor Cuomo and his top aides were hiding the true devastation being experienced in some nursing homes. Furthermore, Governor Cuomo declined to appear on any programs other than his brother’s show at the time, where he spent most of the time fielding his kid brother’s adulation as opposed to questions.
Governor Cuomo was even referred to as the “Luv Guv” by his brother during one appearance, when he was asked: “Do you think that you are an attractive person now because you’re single and ready to mingle? Do you really think you are some desirable single person and that this is not just people’s panic coming out of them?”
“I think beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” responded Governor Cuomo.
CNN's decision to wade into these ethically murky waters would be problematic with any anchor, let alone the man who calls out what he perceives to be a lack of ethical journalism on rival Fox News almost every night. He even refers to the network as “state news.”
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Cuomo Prime Time has tanked in the ratings after a record-breaking January that kicked off on a very high note for Chris and the network. The January 6 episode was one of the 10 most-watched programs across all prime time during the first full week of the year. In total, CNN had four of the top 20 shows that week versus three for MSNBC and one for Fox News.
Numbers then began to drop later on in January, as Cuomo Prime Time had again fallen below Fox News’ Hannity in the ratings. Among viewers aged 2+ who viewed the show within 24 hours of airing, the weekly average across January went from 5.02 million to 3.72 million to 3.8 million to 2.1 million by the final week of the month.
Viewership was ultimately down over 44 percent on average between the first and last weeks of the month while Fox News saw virtually no decline in ratings. Cuomo has continued to tumble in February since he and the network committed to not covering his brother.
Over the weekend, a second staffer revealed that she was sexually harassed by the Governor while working in Albany, N.Y. Charlotte Bennett, a 25-year-old health policy adviser, told The New York Times that her boss asked her if she dated older men and sought to discuss her sexual assault in a manner that was both insensitive and triggering.
Bennett said she made the decision to speak out after another staffer went public with her story. Lindsey Boylan, a former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, wrote a post on Medium, detailing how she endured the same behavior from her boss as Bennett. In addition to the comments and one-on-one meetings, Boylan also claims that the governor once kissed her in his office and suggested they play strip poker.
Governor Cuomo has now agreed to allow for an outside investigation into these claims despite some initial resistance. At the same time, he said of the accusations in a statement: “To be clear I never inappropriately touched anyone and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to.”
The Justice Department is now investigating whether Governor Cuomo underreported the number of deaths in nursing homes across the state to avoid potential attacks from the Trump administration. That investigation was launched after the New York Post obtained audio of aide Melissa de Rosa detailing efforts to downplay the very fatal repercussions of Governor Cuomo’s decision to bar assisted-living facilities from preventing the intake of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic.