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USA | Dec 6, 2021

The fall of the Cuomo brothers

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

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The Cuomo brothers: ex-CNN anchor Chris and Andrew, ex-Governor of New York. (Photo: MSNBC)

It has been a tough time for both Andrew and Chris Cuomo with no end to the abyss they find themselves in.

Last Saturday, CNN announced that it was firing the host of its primetime show Chris Cuomo after it unearthed details of how he breached rules in assisting his brother Andrew in answering accusations of sexual harassment while he was the Governor of New York.

Last week it was announced that CNN was suspending Chris Cuomo indefinitely while conducting further investigations. The decision was taken that Anderson Cooper would fill his slot, thus moving him from a one-hour show to two hours and becoming if only, for now, the new face of prime time.

As expected, Anderson Cooper has performed well, the epitome of professionalism. His brand of journalism generally doesn’t favour personal patina.

Then on Saturday, CNN’s boss Jeff Zucker brought down the axe letting it be known that Chris Cuomo has been dismissed forthwith as further probes unveiled that the strapping anchorman was less than forthcoming in just how he went about coming to his brother’s aid.

It was a bitter pill for Chris Cuomo to swallow. For most people, if a close family member was in serious trouble and had to engage with the media, having someone close to you in that profession, could offer worthy suggestions. It would make sense to seek them out and perhaps heed their counsel. In times of trouble, the family will want to offer succour and support.

As Chris Cuomo put it, “family first, job second.”

ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks while making an announcement during a news conference at Jones Beach State Park in Wantagh, New York, U.S., May 24, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Most people would look at it that way and empathise with Chris trying to help his beleaguered brother.

Question is, did he do something so egregious, so utterly beyond the pale that would merit him getting the sack?

There is no evidence at this time that he sought to discredit and malign women pointing the finger at his brother Andrew.

CNN has taken a measured and sanguine approach, careful not to prematurely nail Chris Cuomo to a proverbial cross.

“When Chris admitted to us he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledge that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understand his need to put family first and job second.

“However these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely pending further evaluation,” penned the international news network.

Fair enough. A week later Chris Cuomo was terminated, ignominiously conjoined with his brother in shame and ill-repute, their reputations severely damaged.

Their father, Mario Cuomo was a political legend winning three terms as Governor of New York and was an astute operator who never got embroiled in scandal or having to see his character called into question.

Perhaps he is fortunate not to have witnessed the fate that has befallen his sons. The matriarch of the family, Matilda is now 90 and this all must be so displeasing and disappointing to her.

Only last year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Andrew Cuomo and his younger brother Chris were the toast of the town. Their banter and playful chiding on CNN raised a laugh during desperate times.

Andrew was seen as a superstar having tirelessly laboured to protect New Yorkers from the deadly virus. His daily press conferences made for compelling viewing and at one time it was mooted that he would be a better pick than Biden, going up against Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Chris Cuomo reached the apogee of his career heading CNN’s top show which brought in around 775,000 dally viewers. He joined CNN in 2013 after working at both Fox News and ABC, but his stock rose at CNN.

The brothers were on the up escalator now they have both crashed and burned. What a difference a year makes.

Their right-wing detractors are no doubt delighted to see them subjected to misery and their fortunes substantially diminished. Their enemies are now licking their lips.

What happened?

The tide turned and Andrew become another older man ensnared in the ‘Me Too’ movement. As a man in authority, in leadership positions, chitter-chatter with female colleagues could spell your demise. The boss has to be very careful how he interfaces with women in the workplace. Many women are pulling the trigger particular on men of a certain age who didn’t get the memo.

ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on COVID-19 vaccination at Suffolk County Community College in Brentwood, New York, U.S. April 12, 2021. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Pool via REUTERS/File)

Sexual harassment is the new corporate cancer and it is terminal. You have to give it a wide berth and do your darndest not to have a scintilla of impropriety come your way.

Andrew has strenuously denied claims made against him but has said he could be unintentionally playful and meant no harm. Once you could get away with that – not today.

Today you get cancelled and ruined and the blowback incinerates your family.

It still isn’t exactly clear what Andrew Cuomo did to these women and there are those who question whether it warranted his abject dismissal. What is clear is that the New York Attorney General Letitia James has been relentless in eviscerating Andrew Cuomo. She has overseen his destruction as a public servant and in the process, Trump and his followers can say goodbye to a potentially formidable foe.

So what’s next for the Cuomo brothers?

Chris is bloodied but not bowed. He will always be said that he tried to help his brother out of a tough spot and rallied to him in his time of need. Wouldn’t you do the same thing if placed in that position?

Blood is thicker than water and he didn’t put his job before the fate of Andrew – he reached out a brotherly hand. That says something about him. Sometimes one is needed, and Chris was there and paid the price for it.

In his testimony, he said: “This is my brother and I am trying to help my brother through a situation where he has told me he did nothing wrong. And that’s it for me. How do I help protect my family? How do I protect him? Probably should have been thinking more about how I protect myself, which never occurred to me.”

Now if you truly love your family, you can put yourself in Chris’s place.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo during a televised townhall with Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California. Photo taken October 10, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Blake/File)

Chris Cuomo is an experienced broadcaster. He helmed CNN’s Number 1 show. He has a podcast on SiriusXM and can work on that for now. He can become an entrepreneurial media player and make a play on digital platforms. He can also choose to invest in new players and help guide and structure entities in the new vanguard.

Andrew Cuomo was a force on the political scene and was all set to make the Cuomo’s a twenty-first-century political dynasty. He now has to turn those skills to the private sector.

If he is able to come out of this and avoid criminal prosecution, he can set up his stall as a legal and political consultant. He will never become the ‘King of New York’. That dream has now evaporated. But he can pick up the pieces of his professional life and fashion something meaningful.

Many will say that calamity has struck down both brothers and their obituary is being read. It is up to them not to make that so and reinvent themselves.

They must turn a deaf ear to Jaguar Paw’s exhortation in Apocalypto, “We must go to the forest.”

Better to listen to their father, Mario’s words: “There are only two rules for being successful. One figure out exactly what you want to do, and two, do it.”

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