On December 4, 2021, after an investigation conducted by an outside law firm, CNN terminated its star host Chris Cuomo.
The news came after it was revealed that in May of that year, Cuomo had been acting as an unofficial adviser to his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo, concerning the multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him (in clear violation of journalism ethics). Cuomo apologized for this breach of conduct and promised it would never happen again, and CNN let him keep his cushy gig.
Four months later, in September, Cuomo’s ex-boss Shelley Ross accused him of sexual harassment in an eye-opening New York Times op-ed (Cuomo copped to it but maintained the incident was not “sexual in nature”). In late November, the New York attorney general released evidence that CNN’s Cuomo had pressured his sources for dirt on his brother’s accusers, was in regular contact with Gov. Cuomo’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, and helped his brother craft public statements about the allegations. CNN subsequently suspended him. Around this time, another sexual harassment allegation against Cuomo surfaced. CNN fired him, prompting Cuomo to file for $125 million in damages against the network. He’s set to host a new show on NewsNation, which is apparently a thing.
That all brings us to Friday night, and Cuomo’s sit-down interview with Real Time’s Bill Maher.
After some terribly lame monologue jokes about COVID mortality and monkeypox, Maher invited Cuomo onto the Real Time stage and started things off by asking if he was “happy,” before lobbing even more softball questions at his guest, wondering whether he felt “good” now that CNN’s ratings are down in his absence.
“I want good things for people there. I don’t like how it ended. I had a great team I didn’t get to say goodbye to. I just want to move on,” Cuomo remarked.
Maher proceeded to ask such probing questions as, “How is your brother doing?,” leading Cuomo to discuss how his brother is “struggling” and “has dealt with a lot.”
“Did you ever think that his downfall would be women? I never pictured him as that guy,” Maher queried, prompting a dodge from Cuomo.
Then, the HBO host got into the CNN guy’s own fall from grace.
Maher said, “I don’t know if you were advising [Governor Cuomo] during this scandal,” and then expressed shock when Cuomo admitted he was, even though this is all a matter of very public record.
He further attempted to brand CNN as hypocritical for the firing, since “CNN said it violated journalistic standards…but they made a conscious decision to move toward opinion rather than delivering the straight news”—which is some serious mental gymnastics, equating op-ed journalism with Cuomo violating journalism ethics by using his media sources to not only advise his scandalized brother but investigate his accusers, in addition to underrepresenting the extent of his involvement when it first came to light.
Maher made a better argument when he brought up why Fox News’ Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham were allowed to keep their jobs while advising Trump all the time and Cuomo wasn’t. (The short answer: Fox News threw journalism ethics out the window a long time ago when it comes to their morning and primetime hosts.)
“Isn’t that the same thing?” asked Maher.
Cuomo wouldn’t play ball, responding, “Do you want me to fire them?”
Maher neglected to ask about the circumstances surrounding Cuomo’s firing from CNN, the $125 million in damages he’s seeking from the network, the sexual-harassment allegations against him, or anything that may have rubbed his guest—and friend—the wrong way.