CNN might have thought the rest of the liberal media would come to their defense as they refused to discipline Prime Time host Chris Cuomo for his “inappropriate” side gig advising his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) as he faced sexual misconduct allegations. But CNN boss Jeff Zucker bet wrong as critics from across the political spectrum were outraged at how the network spit in the eye of journalistic ethics.
On Monday, Washington Post media critic Erick Wemple took aim at CNN for sending out their own media reporter, Brian Stelter in an effort to “[whitewash] the whole mess on Sunday in a way that had to delight the network’s PR operation.”
Wemple excoriated Stelter for treating Cuomo and CNN with kid gloves for the stuff he would blow his top over if Fox News had done it. And he tore down the CNN position that it was all just “optics” problems (Click “expand”):
Actually, there is no optics problem. It’s all substance. The network acknowledged as much earlier this year when it issued a statement scolding Chris Cuomo for having participated in conference calls to assist Andrew Cuomo…
Another non-optics problem for CNN emerges from the attorney general’s report itself: The fellow to whom Chris Cuomo provided crisis-management advice has spent years, per the testimony of his own employees, ruining women’s careers with his sexually suggestive comments and his groping mitts. The 168-page report is redundant and tedious, through no fault of its drafters; the governor reportedly repeated his abusive behavior with victim after victim.
Keeping things at The Post, media columnist and journalism professor Margaret Sullivan took Cuomo and CNN back to J-school. “If I had these brainy students gathered on my Zoom screen today, I know what we’d be discussing: the extreme contrast in standards at a regional daily newspaper and a behemoth cable TV company,” she wrote.
“Here’s what CNN’s Chris Cuomo has done over the past weeks and months: failed to maintain the most basic of journalistic principles, which are independence, fairness and impartiality,” she chided, noting that his “advice, atrociously, even included how to deal with the news media.”
One of Sullivan’s bigger focuses was how CNN had not “disciplined [Cuomo] in any meaningful way.” She even called for Cuomo’s current vacation to be turned into a suspension (Click “expand”):
On Monday evening, Chris Cuomo won’t be on the air as he starts a supposedly long-planned vacation. It should be turned into — at least — an unpaid suspension of significant length. And CNN should be transparent with its viewers that its anchor acted unethically and that the network won’t countenance it.
Or at least that’s what I’d tell my students.
On Thursday, at the Washington Examiner, columnist Tim Carney called out how Cuomo’s impropriety called into question his ability to cover other similar topics. “How should we consider Chris Cuomo’s duty to his viewers? The key here is that a TV show host owes it to his viewers (and his employer) not to use his perch for personal causes,” he said.
Adding: “Chris Cuomo maybe should have gone further and avoided covering anything that touched on his brother’s problems — that is, lay off of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and don’t cover other politicians’ sexual harassment accusations. At some point, the viewers or the CNN brass might say, ‘your list of recusals makes you unable to host a whole show, so we’re going to make you a reporter on an issue you can cover without conflict.’”
The day after the New York attorney general released their report detailing how Cuomo was entrenched his brother’s team of advisors, left-leaning Poynter was taking them to task.
“This isn’t blaming Chris for Andrew’s actions. This is blaming Chris for Chris’ actions. Advising his brother is something that is going to be hard to forget, especially when Chris is reporting on similar accusations against other public figures,” wrote senior media writer Tom Jones.
And as NewsBusters previously noted, on Thursday, Center for Journalism Ethics director Kathleen Bartzen Culver wrote in USA Today: “When it comes to credibility and trust, people don’t see individual reporters or news organizations. They see ‘the media.’ So when one journalist or outlet makes questionable choices, the tarnish can easily spread to others”
All this criticism was proved justified on Monday after news broke that Cuomo was STILL advising his brother in defiance of CNN’s “punishment.”