CNN Tamps Down Coverage of Investigation Into N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo During His Brother’s Show
CNN cut coverage of one of the biggest prime-time news of the day due to a very unorthodox situation: the presenter, who doesn't tell the story, is the public official's brother in the spotlight.
The WarnerMedia-backed outlet kept anchor Chris Cuomo in the air Tuesday night despite covering a state investigation that found Cuomo's older brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, sexually molested 11 women and as a senior US - Officials including President Joe Biden called for the resignation of the New York Prime Minister. The younger Cuomo, who has vowed to stay out of history, instead focused on the subject of vaccination against coronavirus. Governor Cuomo has denied the charges against him.
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CNN's somersaults to keep one cuomo from covering the other were palpable. "We're focusing on COVID here," Chris Cuomo told viewers as he opened his 9pm. Program. Within seconds of the anchor's hand to CNN's 10pm. Presenter Don Lemon, reporting on the governor's allegations, returned to the screen in full force. Lemon made the subject the theme of his opening segment, and a chyron on the screen read, "President Joe Biden calls on Governor Cuomo to step down." During Chris Cuomo's show, CNN scrolled some headlines about his brother's challenges at the bottom of its graphic display.
CNN has been supporting Chris Cuomo for months despite the anchor getting lost in challenging terrain. In May, the network announced that it had no plans to discipline Chris Cuomo despite advising his brother during staff meetings to develop a strategy to counter allegations of sexual harassment. At the time, CNN said that “it was inappropriate to have discussions with governor staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will no longer take part in such discussions in the future. "
It is one thing for a network to keep an anchor off of a story that they cannot be objective about. However, it is another not to cover the story at all during one of the network's favorite hours. Chris Cuomo's show "Cuomo Prime Time" drew an average total viewership of 985,000 in July, according to Nielsen, making it the most watched program on CNN.
In another era, CNN encouraged the younger Cuomo to put his sibling in the spotlight. During the height of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo featured a handful on his siblings' program, and the banter between them drew crowds. “The first months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time. We felt that Chris talking to his brother about the challenges facing millions of American families was of significant human interest, "the network said in a statement in February. “As a result, we made an exception to a rule we've had since 2013 that prevents Chris from questioning and covering up his brother, and that rule still applies today. CNN has reported extensively on the news surrounding Governor Cuomo. "
Cuomo, the anchor, admitted in May that he cannot cover his brother fairly and independently. "I can be objective on almost any subject, but not with my family," he said during a broadcast in May. He added, “But being a journalist and the brother of a politician is unique and a unique challenge. And I have a unique responsibility to balance these roles. It's not always easy."
Some prominent news outlets have made efforts to separate staff from reporting on relatives that are gaining prominence in the public eye. At CBS News, former division president David Rhodes stayed away from editorial decisions related to coverage of his brother Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser during the Obama administration. In 2019, James Bennet, former editor of the New York Times editorial page, withdrew from his department's reporting on the run-up to the 2020 presidential election after his brother, a Senator from Colorado, announced his candidacy.
Like other cable news channels, however, CNN finds itself in a post-2020 election era when some of the intense viewership that had built up around the significance of the event has waned. And Chris Cuomo remains CNN's top draw.
All three cable news channels have seen viewership drops, but CNN, which saw viewership spikes in late December and early 2021, is facing a bigger drop than its two main competitors. For the month of July, CNN's prime-time audience ages 25 to 54 - the most sought after audience by advertisers on news programs - was 52% below the prior-year period, according to Nielsen data. Meanwhile, Fox News Channel's prime time audience was down 36%, while MSNBC's was down 44%. Chris Cuomo's show typically attracts fewer viewers than its main competitors, Fox News' "Hannity" and MSBNC's "The Rachel Maddow Show".
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