Stop Making Me Defend Chris Cuomo!

CNN’s most unethical, incompetent and dumbest journalist—yes, yes, I keep telling you, even worse than Don Lemon!— is once again in trouble, and once again it’s because of his conflict of interest in matters involving his brother, besieged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Chris advised Andrew and senior members of his brother’s staff on how to respond to the sexual harassment allegations made earlier this year by various women, in a series of conference calls including the Democratic governor, his top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers. It doesn’t matter what Chris’s advice was; you can read the Washington Post story if you’re interested, but that’s irrelevant to the ethics issue. First, anyone who would take the advice of a boob like Chris Cuomo on anything needs to have his mittens connected up through his sleeves, and second, the problem is that Chris was involved in the discussions at all, even if all he did was blow spit bubbles.

Journalists are ethically obligated to be objective reporters of the news, not participants in it, assuming journalists today even know or care what their professional ethics rules are. Chris Cuomo clearly doesn’t: he made that clear by repeatedly interviewing his brother on CNN, tossing him softball questions, and basically serving as his brother’s PR flack. The network let him do it, because it meant good ratings and “fun” TV.

Yet the Washington Post offers this knee-slapper:

“The behind-the-scenes strategy offered by Chris Cuomo, who anchors CNN’s 9 p.m. nightly newscast, cuts against the widely accepted norm in journalism that those reporting the news should not be involved in politics.“If you are actively advising a politician in trouble while being an on-air host on a news network, that’s not okay,” said Nicholas Lemann, a professor at Columbia Journalism School and a New Yorker staff writer.”

Isn’t that hilarious? CNN is more involved in politics than in journalism. The Washington Post is involved in politics. The New York Times, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, the Associated Press (and the New Yorker) are involved in politics more often than not, and so are their editors, reporters and columnists. What “widely accepted norm”? If anything, it’s a widely rejected and violated norm, and the statement that being non-political is a journalism norm in 2021 is either a delusion or an outright lie.

I just quoted Chris two days ago, but it’s worth repeating: this is what “Fredo” blathered on the air about the Supreme Court simply agreeing to review a Mississippi abortion law that hinges on when a fetus is “viable”:

“You would think that we would have impaneled experts on a special commission by now to see what the science says, right, but we don’t seem to have the intellectual curiosity about this issue. Because it’s not really about science — it has become a culture war. It’s a political lever to use as a distraction from policy and solving problems, to allow people to get up in their religion and their righteousness as a distraction from policy and solving problems. It’s not about science or consensus about dividing lines, legislating to the far-right white-fright vote, flooding the zone with 536 bills that abridge a woman’s right to control her own body, in 46 states. It’s just like voting rights in one way.”

CNN had no problem with this straight-up partisan, pro-abortion, anti-conservative propaganda that could have been scripted by the Democratic National Committee, except even the DNC is more coherent than that. Why would Chris Cuomo ever suspect that giving his bother advice in a personal political crisis crosses a line that he—and Don Lemon, and the rest of the CNN agents of the Left—doesn’t cross every day and has been crossing for years?

Moreover, I am certain, and I’m sure Chris knows, that journalists with family members in government and politics routinely give confidential advice and support to each other, and have for decades. Does anyone think that Maria Shriver didn’t give advice to the Kennedys—or Arnold, when he was Governor of California? We know that Donna Brazile engaged in politics while serving as a paid contributor to CNN. Does MSNBC’s Al Sharpton “participate in politics”? Do you really think Hillary Clinton never had a confidential chat with George Stephanopoulos when she was in trouble?

I’m not excusing Chris, or any of these hacks, for their unethical conduct, but in their corrupt and partisan industry, playing politics is the norm. It isn’t an “Everybody does it” excuse to say, as I am now, that anyone pretending that they are shocked–shocked! that Chris Cuomo would try to help his brother behind the scenes is attempting to deceive the public or incredibly naive. These are, as Glenn Reynolds says daily on Instapundit, Democratic Party operatives with press credentials.

Don’t beat up on Chris for just doing what he has learned is his job.

5 thoughts on “Stop Making Me Defend Chris Cuomo!

  1. “Don’t beat up on Chris for just doing what he has learned is his job.”

    That is asking an awful lot of your readers Jack.
    For me; Fredo is always fair game and in fact I encourage others to pile on whenever the opportunity arises.

  2. Nice essay. My only quibble is with the notion that Chris is unqualified to give advice to Andrew regarding crisis management. I’d say Chris is an expert at PR. It’s what he does every day. Calling Chris not good at PR is like saying “Shrek” is not any good. Who better for Andrew to consult on how to handle the media than a key media guy? You have a media problem? Do what a media guy says you should do. I’d call it coordination rather than consultation. But again, great essay. Trenchant and entertaining, as usual.

  3. There are two sides to the ‘insider advice’ coin. On one side is a journalist advising a politician connected to them how best to act politically in a difficult situation. On the other side, we have a politician telling a journalist connected to how they want the journalist to handle a situation which is difficult for the politician. In my view, the second side is worse than the first.

  4. “Don’t beat up on Chris for just doing what he has learned is his job.”

    Wouldn’t this count as rationalization 1, 38 or 45?

    • I said in the post that it wasn’t an example of “everybody does it.” The point is that charging Cuomo with violating a tenet of journalism ethics that no longer exists is part of the general cover-up for the corrupt news media. This IS the culture in journalism, and one reason it persists (and gets worse) is the fantasy that there are ethical “norms.” CC exemplifies his profession in this episode. The criticism belongs with the whole thing, not a loyal, dumb, card-holder.

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