NBC Actually Covers Chris Cuomo Scandal, ABC and CBS Ignore

On Friday, NBC’s Today show surprisingly devoted a full report to the controversy swirling around CNN anchor Chris Cuomo following a bombshell Washington Post report that the primetime host participated in political strategy sessions with his brother, scandal-plagued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Meanwhile, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS This Morning completely ignored the major breach of journalistic ethics.

“Family business. Overnight, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo apologizing on air for taking part in strategy calls advising his embattled brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on how to handle his sexual harassment scandal,” announced co-host Savannah Guthrie at the top of the broadcast. After a clip of Cuomo promising “it will not happen again” and admitting his “mistake,” Guthrie noted: “This morning, why CNN says he will face no discipline.”

Minutes later, correspondent Anne Thompson began her three-minute long report on the topic by declaring: “Usually we bring you the latest in the slew of scandals surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, but this morning it’s his younger brother, Chris, a CNN primetime host, who is doing the explaining.”

She teed up a clip of Chris Cuomo’s on-air apology during his Thursday night show: “Overnight, CNN’s Chris Cuomo defending the political advice he gave his brother Andrew, New York’s governor, accused of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment by at least nine women.” A soundbite ran of Cuomo telling viewers: “I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again. It was a mistake.”

Thompson called out the CNN host’s blatant bias: “But the younger Cuomo conceding that when it comes to his brother, he is biased….Less than two months ago, Chris Cuomo promised his viewers to be straight with them….While he avoided the story on the air, off camera, he was involved.”

She noted “the Governor’s office confirming what The Washington Post first reported, that Chris Cuomo joined strategy calls with the Governor’s aides about how to respond to the scandal.” Turning to Washington Post political investigations reporter Josh Dawsey, who broke the story, Thompson wondered: “Did Chris Cuomo do more than just listen on these calls?” Dawsey confirmed: “Yes, Chris Cuomo gave a lot of advice on these calls. He struck a fairly pugilistic tone, telling his brother to not resign, to push back against the allegations, to not give in to, quote, unquote, ‘cancel culture.’”

Wrapping up the segment, Thompson cited CNN’s reaction to the scandal:

This morning, Chris Cuomo insists he never influenced CNN’s coverage of his brother. In a statement, CNN says “It was inappropriate” for Chris to be on those calls, “which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward”….CNN says Chris Cuomo will not be disciplined for his role in crafting his brother’s political defense.

It was never made clear why CNN decided no disciplinary action would be taken against Cuomo.

While ABC’s Good Morning America had no interest in a media colleague violating the most basic principles of journalism, the broadcast did have time for co-host Robin Roberts interviewing Prince Harry and Oprah Winfrey. Despite a brief clip of Cuomo’s apology playing during CBS This Morning’s “Eye Opener” montage at the top of the show, the story was never covered. Instead, the broadcast focused on a treasure hunt created by an eccentric millionaire.

Here is a full transcript of Thompson’s May 21 report on NBC’s Today show:

7:12 AM ET

TOM LLAMAS: We want to turn now to a new controversy, though, surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His brother Chris, a CNN anchor, apologizing on his show last night after it was revealed he’s been advising the Governor on how to deal with ongoing sexual harassment allegations. NBC’s Anne Thompson joins us now with that story. Anne, good morning.

ANNE THOMPSON: Good morning, Tom. Usually we bring you the latest in the slew of scandals surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, but this morning it’s his younger brother, Chris, a CNN primetime host, who is doing the explaining.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: CNN’s Chris Cuomo Apologizes Over Advising Brother]

Overnight, CNN’s Chris Cuomo defending the political advice he gave his brother Andrew, New York’s governor, accused of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment by at least nine women.

CUOMO: I understand why that was a problem for CNN. It will not happen again. It was a mistake.

THOMPSON: But the younger Cuomo conceding that when it comes to his brother, he is biased.

CUOMO: I can be objective about just about any topic, but not about my family.

THOMPSON: Less than two months ago, Chris Cuomo promised his viewers to be straight with them.

CUOMO [3/1/21]: I cannot cover it because he is my brother.

THOMPSON: While he avoided the story on the air, off camera, he was involved. This morning, the Governor’s office confirming what The Washington Post first reported, that Chris Cuomo joined strategy calls with the Governor’s aides about how to respond to the scandal.

THOMPSON: Did Chris Cuomo do more than just listen on these calls?

JOSH DAWSEY [WASHINGTON POST POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER]: Yes, Chris Cuomo gave a lot of advice on these calls. He struck a fairly pugilistic tone, telling his brother to not resign, to push back against the allegations, to not give in to, quote, unquote, “cancel culture.”

THOMPSON: Asked about the reports, the Governor’s office describes Chris Cuomo’s role as “a few phone conversations with friends and advisers giving the Governor advice.” That influence from his brother, according to The Washington Post, apparent in the Governor’s defiant response.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO [D-NY, 4/26/21]: I didn’t do anything wrong.

THOMPSON: Governor Cuomo has denied the harassment allegations and refused calls to step down. He’s also apologized for making anyone uncomfortable. Women have accused the Governor of everything from making inappropriate remarks to groping to unwanted kisses.

This morning, Chris Cuomo insists he never influenced CNN’s coverage of his brother. In a statement, CNN says “It was inappropriate” for Chris to be on those calls, “which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”

CHRIS CUOMO: I love my brother, I love my family, I love my job. And I love and respect my colleagues here at CNN. And again, to them, I am truly sorry.

THOMPSON: And this morning, CNN says Chris Cuomo will not be disciplined for his role in crafting his brother’s political defense. Tom?

LLAMAS: Alright, Anne Thompson for us this morning. Anne, thank you.

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