Trouble in fake news paradise.
There have been a lot of shake-ups at CNN lately, from the network’s new contract with former longtime Fox News anchor Chris Wallace to the producer who was arrested for allegedly enticing minors and their mothers into illegal sex acts — and that was all just this past weekend.
It can be hard to keep up, but the biggest news at CNN just a week ago was the ousting of top anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired after new information came to light about the extent to which he had aided his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the latter fielded accusations of sexual harassment.
The younger Cuomo, it seems, went as far as to try to get out ahead of stories about his now-disgraced brother from other outlets and, after being suspended as CNN brass mulled over this new information, he became the subject of his own sexual harassment allegations on the part of an attorney representing an unnamed former coworker at another network.
Yeah, it’s bad.
And CNN, to its credit, or perhaps simply out of prudence, nixed him. But the scandal didn’t end there.
In fact, this may have been just the beginning of what could turn into a heated legal battle between CNN and its former top anchor.
This is also where things get rather murky.
You see, Cuomo came out swinging through his personal spokesperson, who claimed that at CNN, it was “widely known” that Chris and Andrew Cuomo were “extremely close and in regular contact,” according to Vanity Fair.
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This included “details of Mr. Cuomo’s support for his brother. There were no secrets about this, as other individuals besides Mr. Cuomo can attest.”
In other words, Cuomo is claiming that CNN knew that he was helping his brother thwart media attacks over sexual abuse allegations.
CNN hit back hard.
“We are disappointed with Chris’s statement. He has made a number of accusations that are patently false. This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor,” a network spokesperson said.
According to the New York Post, a CNN insider said that Cuomo’s claims are “absurd” and “patently untrue.”
“If Jeff had known all along, Chris would have been fired earlier, not suspended,” the source said.
Well, Cuomo, for his part, is willing to put the money he won’t get paid from CNN where his mouth is, and is set to sue for the roughly $18 million he would have earned throughout the remainder of his contract, according to a source who spoke with the Post.
And CNN has “no intention” of paying Cuomo “a penny,” the source said.
As yet another source told the outlet, CNN feels sure it had grounds for termination.
“CNN has a standard morality clause in their contract that says if the employee does anything of disrepute, they can be immediately fired,” they said.
However, as legal expert and entrepreneur Aron Solomon recently wrote in his Op-Ed, “Here’s How Chris Cuomo May Now Get Millions from CNN,” the network may be hard-pressed to make the case that Cuomo violated its morality clause.
If you’ll recall, as New York became one of the hardest-hit states amid the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the Cuomo brothers had a regular little schtick where the younger would interview the elder, who was still governor at the time, which turned out to be great for ratings.
The network was not only fully aware that the two were close, it stands to reason, but it might be fair to say they openly encouraged the nepotism for their own financial gain, only to eventually have to bar Chris Cuomo from interviewing his brother as the sex scandal surpassed the now-former governor’s status as COVID hero.
“CNN has a standard morality clause in their contract that says if the employee does anything of disrepute, they can be immediately fired,” a source told the Post.
“For CNN to now claim that Chris Cuomo violated a morals clause by helping his brother would be a remarkably interesting and challenging issue for a court and one that many of us are looking forward to seeing play out,” Solomon noted.
It’s clear that while CNN is trying to put a whole lot of distance between itself and Cuomo’s activities, the two are closer than they’d like to admit, at the very least because of the very embarrassing fact that CNN was playing up the relationship between the two famous brothers within its capacity as a news network and Chris Cuomo’s capacity as a journalist.
Imagine if Cuomo managed to get the network to pay up on the sole basis that it’s as wildly unethical as he is?
Many critics of CNN and its particular brand of “fake news,” i.e. biased slant disguised as objective reporting, would find this incredibly fitting.