CNN host Brian Stelter — who hosts “Reliable Sources,” a show about media news — was sharply criticized Monday over his response to damning newly released documents exposing the significant role that CNN anchor Chris Cuomo played in the scandals of his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
What happened with Cuomo?
The New York attorney general’s office released a trove of documents Monday that revealed, among other things, that Cuomo played a more significant role in his brother's scandals than he previously admitted or disclosed.
While Chris Cuomo has previously acknowledged advising his brother and his team on the response to the scandals, the records show that his role in helping the then-governor was much larger and more intimate than previously known.
Chris Cuomo was actively in touch with Melissa DeRosa, who was the then-governor’s top aide, about incoming media reports that detailed alleged sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo, according to exhibits from the Attorney General’s probe and a transcript of his interview with the state’s investigators. He also lobbied to help the governor’s office as it sought to weather the storm of accusations, and he dictated statements for the then-governor to use.
What did Stelter say?
Stelter seemingly dismissed the seriousness of the revelations by writing on Twitter that Cuomo has already addressed his actions and said he would not do so again.
"For what it's worth, when Chris Cuomo addressed his actions on the air back in August, he said 'this will be my final word on it,' and he hasn't addressed the matter on TV since," Stelter said.
In his Reliable Sources newsletter, Stelter's apologetic tone went a step further.
Flashback to what I said during a lengthy on-air report about the Cuomo brothers in August: "This has been a conundrum for CNN that has no perfect answer, no perfect solution." I think those words remain true today...
Advocates of ethical journalism would profoundly disagree with Stelter. There is, in fact, a "perfect solution" for a media personality who allegedly used his media prowess to help his governor brother finagle a serious scandal without disclosing his actions to his audience and, in fact, downplaying what he did: resignation or termination.
"Hosting a prime-time television show is a privilege, not a right. Chris Cuomo doesn’t need to be drummed out of journalism, but he does need to face repercussions," the Atlantic's David Graham wrote. "By keeping Cuomo on the air and in his job, CNN would send the message that journalistic ethics are only for the little people and viewers are on their own."
What was the response to Stelter?
Considering how aggressively Stelter covers Fox News and routinely criticizes the Fox News' decisions, Stelter's dismissive response triggered mockery and condemnation.
Lindsey Boylan, who accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, said Stelter's response embodies why abusive people stay in power.
Janice Dean from Fox News called it "ridiculous."
Becket Adams from the Washington Examiner, meanwhile, responded with another Chris Cuomo quote from August that directly contradicts the new revelations.
Washington Free Beacon reporter Chuck Ross mocked Stelter, joking that the CNN host would cover the story on his Sunday TV show.
What did CNN say?
Regarding the revelations, CNN said the network would conduct a "thorough review" of the documents.
"The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration," the statement said. "We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days."
Cuomo did host his prime-time show Monday evening.