CNN’s Jeff Zucker says Chris Cuomo ‘deserved termination’
CNN president Jeff Zucker told the network’s staffers on Tuesday morning that former host Chris Cuomo “deserved termination” and won’t be paid any severance, according to reports.
During a town hall-style meeting, Zucker also called Saturday’s firing of the “Cuomo Prime Time” star “a lesson we have all learned from,” the Wrap reported.
Zucker said Cuomo’s secret efforts to help his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, battle sexual harassment allegations violated CNN’s standards and practices in a way that went “too far and deserved termination,” the website said.
Zucker also said Chris Cuomo won’t receive any money toward the remainder of his reported $6 million-a-year contract, the Wall Street Journal reported.
On Monday, sources told the New York Post that Chris Cuomo was preparing to sue CNN over the estimated $18 million to $20 million he’s yet to receive under terms of a four-year deal he signed last year.
CNN said Saturday that it “had cause to terminate” Chris Cuomo over the revelations in documents released last week by state Attorney General Letitia James and decided to fire him after receiving sexual misconduct allegations against him involving a former female colleague at ABC News.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting, Zucker reportedly said he wished Chris Cuomo had taken a leave of absence amid the spiraling sexual harassment scandal that forced his brother to resign in August.
CNN execs asked Chris Cuomo to do so but he declined, Zucker reportedly said.
When asked whether he regretted not suspending Chris Cuomo until after James made public his incriminating text messages and sworn testimony, Zucker said that “hindsight in all of this is very easy,” according to the Wrap.
“This was a very unique situation and so we did allow for some leeway for Chris that, you know, was unique to that situation for somebody in that role with a brother in that role during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic,” he said.
“So, I do think that we tried to make the right decisions at the right times.”
Zucker also reportedly said CNN execs would consider “diversity” when replacing the host of the network’s 9 p.m. weekday show.
SiriusXM radio host Michael Smerconish began filling in for Chris Cuomo on Monday night.
Chris Cuomo’s spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.