Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s request for a $125 million award from CNN also takes aim at former colleague and “brother” Don Lemon. While the two had an apparently close relationship as they worked together, Cuomo now criticizes Lemon for breaching journalistic ethics.
Cuomo’s scorched-earth campaign follows his dismissal last year when an investigation revealed the extent of his assistance to his older brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo. A December report by the New York Attorney General’s office exposed details of how Chris Cuomo helped his brother fight sexual harassment allegations.
Now his sweeping complaint against CNN includes the man he often called “brother.” The nightly lovefest was so popular with management that it became a 23-episode CNN podcast hosted by the pair.
What a difference public humiliation and unemployment makes.
Cuomo’s complaint notes that Lemon was criticized last November for texting actor Jussie Smollett and warning him that Chicago police did not believe he was targeted in a hate crime. His filing accuses Lemon of a “flagrant breach of journalistic ethics.” Smollett was later found guilty of staging the widely publicized hoax.
Lemon likely fired the first shot in the breakup in February when he argued in a staff meeting that Cuomo should not be paid severance after his dismissal. According to the Wall Street Journal, Lemon questioned the message sent by paying someone handsomely who broke journalistic standards.
Cuomo is not pleased by Lemon’s remarks, and his complaint calls them a part of a “calculated smear campaign” intended to destroy Cuomo’s reputation.
Other CNN staffers took fire in Cuomo’s filing, including The Lead host Jake Tapper. Cuomo alleges there were no repercussions when Tapper privately suggested to GOP congressional candidate Sean Parnell that he run in a “safer district.”
Cuomo says CNN executives insisted he interview his older brother during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and temporarily suspended their policy against his being involved with stories about the New York governor. The pair appeared together for interviews nine times, and Cuomo says both expressed concerns about the practice.
The complaint alleged that while network standards were a “moving target” painted by former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker and top deputy Allison Gollust —both of whom have been ousted — his journalistic integrity has been “unjustifiably smeared.”