As Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s political career teetered, his brother, the TV host Chris Cuomo, kept silent, declining to address the matter on his CNN show and then leaving for what he described as a planned vacation.
On Monday, Chris Cuomo returned to prime time and spoke publicly for the first time about his brother’s stunning resignation — and the ethical headaches it created for him and his network.
“It was a unique situation, being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media,” Mr. Cuomo said in brief remarks toward the end of his 9 p.m. show. “I tried to do the right thing, and I just want you all to know that.”
He also said he had advised his brother to step down as New York’s governor. “While it was something I never imagined ever having to do,” he told viewers, “I did urge my brother to resign, when the time came.”
For CNN, the conundrum of the Cuomo brothers was painful on several levels.
Chris Cuomo apologized in May after it emerged that he had offered advice to Andrew Cuomo’s aides as the governor faced sexual harassment accusations. The host pledged not to discuss his brother’s travails, but CNN kept him on the air, roiling some colleagues who considered his role a glaring conflict of interest.
It did not help that CNN had openly encouraged the brothers’ on-air rapport at the start of the pandemic, when viewers tuned in to see Chris Cuomo interview Andrew Cuomo on a near-nightly basis.
On his Monday show, Chris Cuomo said the situation involving the governor’s scandal was “unlike anything I could have imagined.”
“I’m not an adviser; I’m a brother,” he told viewers. “I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and to offer my take. And my advice to my brother was simple and consistent: own what you did, tell people what you’ll do to be better, be contrite, and, finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived.”
Chris Cuomo has also faced scrutiny over his involvement in the efforts by Andrew Cuomo’s aides to stave off the growing scandal. On Monday, the CNN host said: “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation. I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
He said he had no plans to comment further. “This will be my final word on it,” the host said, before cutting to a commercial. “Let’s take a break. We’ll be right back.”