Former producer harassed by Chris Cuomo says internal investigation at CNN isn’t enough

A former executive producer at ABC when Chris Cuomo worked there accused him of sexually harassing her in September. Her claim of abusive behavior by Chris Cuomo goes back to 2005. Not only did Cuomo grab her backside at a going-away party for a colleague, but he did so in front of her husband.

At the time Cuomo told his former producer, Shelley Ross, that he could do that because she was no longer his boss as the producer of his Primetime Live show on ABC. She objected, telling him that no he could not do so and pushed him away. Ross produced an email from that time that came from Cuomo after the incident. He apologized for his behavior to both her and her husband, thus admitting guilt. The older Cuomo brother isn’t the only one with a problem with controlling his hands around women, apparently. Ross now says that an internal investigation at CNN over Cuomo’s egregious professional behavior that resulted in an indefinite suspension just won’t cut it. An in-house investigation isn’t enough and she suggests that CNN should do as CBS did over the Dan Rather fake reporting of George W. Bush in 2000 and hire independent investigators to do the job.

Ross pointed to the 2005 investigation by CBS News over the Dan Rather document scandal, when the disgraced anchor reported on forged documents about then-President George W. Bush’s service in the Texas Air National Guard.

“In 2005 CBS set the standard when they hired [former U.S. Attorney General] Richard L. Thornburgh and Louis Boccardi, retired chief executive of the Associated Press, to investigate the journalism and the corporate culture surrounding Dan Rather’s erroneous reporting of President Bush’s Air National Guard duty,” she told Fox.

Ross didn’t call for Chris Cuomo to be fired from CNN when she came forward with her story in September. Instead, she said Cuomo should use his platform to “advance the discussion about women’s workplace and harassment issues.” That is a more generous suggestion than most of us would offer but perhaps it was because this assault happened in 2005 and not 2021. In other words, it was in the past and not how he may be acting towards women colleagues at CNN today. Who would accept Chris Cuomo as a voice for change in workplace harassment? That’s like offering Jeffrey Toobin a platform for delivering a tutorial for conducting Zoom calls.

Like many of us, Ross fully expects Cuomo to be re-hired by CNN. It is their pattern, with Toobin as the latest example.

Ross said earlier this week that Cuomo had lied to CNN and his viewers but nevertheless predicted he would not be fired. Ross did not call for Cuomo’s firing when she wrote about the groping incident but called on him to use his platform to advance the discussion about women’s workplace and harassment issues.

“When he’s invited back, he still should be assigned a series on sexual harassment and ethics in the workplace,” Ross told Fox News Digital.

Other network insiders are calling for independent investigators, too.

“CNN needs to commission an outside investigation like they did with their Tailwind debacle if there is to be any credibility,” a longtime media executive told Fox News Digital, referring to the infamous 1998 retraction of a CNN story that falsely claimed the U.S. military used nerve gas in a mission to kill American defectors in Laos during the Vietnam War.

One CNN insider who spoke to Fox News Digital this week said it was “beyond the pale” to think an internal probe would be satisfactory.

“Who would trust that? The New York State Attorney General’s Investigation speaks for itself. Chris Cuomo’s actions can’t be papered-over by a CNN probe,” the insider said.

CNN’s initial statement stated, “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.”

However, Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy’s newsletter defend Cuomo and indicate the suspension will only be a matter of weeks. CNN spokesmen only say that the suspension will last until an investigation is completed.

CNN’s ratings are circling the drain in a post-Trump era. FNC remains at the top of the heap with ratings that amount to more than CNN and MSNBC combined. Cuomo’s primetime show was popular and brought in good revenue but since his suspension, the ratings for his time slot have increased by almost 20%.

The total number of viewers for Cuomo Prime Time spiked to 897,000 on Tuesday night – the first night without its official host – according to Nielsen TV ratings data posted online by AdWeek’s TVNewser website.

That figure was up nearly 19 percent from Monday, when Cuomo attracted just 754,000 viewers.

It also exceed his show’s average of 774,000 viewers during November, when it ranked No. 25 among all cable TV news programs – right behind Cooper’s.

The highest-rated 9pm anchor was Fox News’s Sean Hannity, who drew 3.4 million viewers on average. Rachel Maddow was second for MSNBC, with 1.9 million.

The increase in ratings may have been from viewers tuning in out of curiosity after he was suspended. Perhaps viewers wanted to see who would fill in and how it would be handled. We’ll know more as ratings are measured going forward. I’ll end this with the latest ratings I’ve seen, which is from Wednesday, December 1, the day after Cuomo’s suspension was announced.

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