by Nicholas Paolino
The last name Cuomo has been in the news cycle what seems to be quite often in the past year and for nearly nothing positive. Andrew Cuomo, the now ex-governor of New York, resigned from his position as governor this past August due to allegations of sexual misconduct. As of yesterday, Chris Cuomo, Andrew’s brother, and host of “Cuomo Prime Time” on CNN has been suspended after the New York State Attorney General’s Office released thousands of documents and messages that showed how the host was helping his brother to avoid the scandal. CNN acknowledged that they appreciated the position that Chris Cuomo was in due to his relationship with his brother as any news outlet would have loved to have the brother of the then governor of NY as one of their hosts. However, it was not until the release of all of these documents that CNN then took action in suspending Chris.
In some of these messages, Chris Cuomo was asking his brother’s assistants for “all the best facts” (NPR) to offer reporters and news outlets. He would also ask around for information regarding his brother’s case in an effort to “help” him. Now, this also becomes a larger problem as Chris Cuomo had previously told investigators that he “was not on his brother’s team” (NPR). However, the documents released can prove otherwise. The overarching issue here is that Chris Cuomo disregarded the conduct of journalists by feeding information to his brother and his team that he was privy to. Chris Cuomo should have made a decision to either be a journalist or be a political advisor, not both because at that point you’re both creating the story while also telling it.
There is something to be said about the distorted familial loyalty that Chris Cuomo demonstrated however it does not excuse him from acting in an unethical way. When you have as much influence and access as someone such as Chris Cuomo it is unethical to use that influence in order to feed someone else information that they may not be privy to. A lot of times news outlets, journalists, and reporters have access to information about politicians that the politicians may not have access to, and for good reason. If politicians were aware of everything that was about to be said about them in the media then there would be an attempt to control that and lead to media that was even more opinionated. Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, said “journalists must understand they’re working for the public, not politicians.” This statement by Kirtley stood out because it simply defines the duties that journalists have to the people. Although Chris Cuomo continuously noted that he never reported on the situation his brother was in or tried to influence the coverage it was not the forward-facing actions that were the issue but rather the action of Chris Cuomo gathering information of what other allegations may be heading his brother’s way as if to give them the chance to squash them before the press got wind of it. This is an example of a journalist displaying a complete disregard for their duty of informing the public.