A veteran television journalist accused CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday of sexually harassing her while working together on ABC News, and she feels that namesake “Cuomo Prime Time” should “journalistically repent” for his behavior.
In a guest appearance for the New York Times, former executive producer Shelley Ross outlined an incident in which Cuomo, who this year was shot for giving private advice to his brother, the New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, during her sexual harassment scandal, pressed her cheek to her buttocks without her permission in 2005. She also produced an email in which Chris Cuomo appeared to acknowledge the incident and apologize for his behavior.
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“At the time, I was the executive producer of an ABC entertainment special, but I was Mr. Cuomo’s executive producer on ‘Primetime Live’ just before that,” she wrote. “I was at the party with my husband sitting behind me on an Ottoman sip of his food coke as I talked to co-workers. When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked towards me and greeted me with a strong bear hug as you lower one hand to grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttocks. “
Ross said Cuomo told her, “I can do it now that you are no longer my boss,” and did so “with a kind of jaw-dropping.” Ross said she told him he could not, pushed him away from her, revealing that her husband was right behind her, and they quickly left the party, which was celebrating the departure of an ABC colleague.
Ross printed a copy of an email from Cuomo that evening, saying he was ashamed of his behavior and even noted that actor Christian Slater had been arrested for similar behavior.
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“[T]Although my heartfelt greeting was a function of being happy to see you … christian slater was arrested for a (kind of) similar act, (even though I was carried by an alleged negative intent, as opposed to my own) … and as a man I can feel like not seeing my wife clapped as such, ”he wrote.
Cuomo, who was 34 at the time of the alleged incident, asked Ross to pass on an apology to his “very good and noble husband”, and also “I apologize to you too, for having put yourself in such a position.” He added that he would remember his lesson the next time he was happy to see her.
CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Ross wrote that she did not want Cuomo fired from CNN, where he has worked since 2013. However, she noted his rhetoric in March while addressing his brother’s political scandal, in which he claimed to be “deeply concerned” on these matters. ” That day, Cuomo said he would not cover up the harassment against his brother after he was allowed to do friendly interviews with him at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two months later, the Washington Post reported that Chris Cuomo was participating in strategic calls with Governor Cuomo’s top aides on how to tackle harassment. Sources told the newspaper that the younger Cuomo urged his brother not to resign and even invoke “cancel culture” a talking point the governor used back in March while talking to journalists.
A report by New York Attorney General Letitia James would later note that he was one of the trusted confidants whose commitment to protecting the governor contributed to Albany’s “toxic” work culture. Governor Cuomo resigned last month.
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Between that and a picture of Chris Cuomo wearing a “Truth” t-shirt shortly after his brother’s exit, Ross said she was forced to say no.
“To me, his statement of deep concern for sexual harassment and his ‘Truth’ T-shirt provocations in this era were with personal responsibility,” she wrote.
In a statement to the Times, Cuomo reiterated his apology to Ross, noting that their interaction was “not sexual.”
“As Shelley admits, our interaction was not sexual. It happened 16 years ago in a public environment when she was the CEO of ABC. I apologized to her at the time and I meant it,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Fox News.
While allegations of sexual misconduct resulted in Andrew Cuomo stepping down as governor, Ross does not want the younger sibling to lose his job. Instead, she hopes he uses his platform to “journalistically repent” of his behavior.
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“I’m not asking Mr Cuomo to be the next casualty in this continuing terrible story. I hope he stays on CNN forever if he chooses. However, I would like to see him journalistically repent: agree air to study the impact of sexism, harassment and gender bias in the workplace, including his own, and then report on it, “Ross wrote. “He could host a series of live documentary film live town hall meetings, produced by women with expert consultants. Call it ‘The Continuing Education of Chris Cuomo’ and make this a turning point instead of yet another stain on the career of a more powerful male news anchor. “
Cuomo has made negative headlines and bad publicity for CNN regularly since the COVID pandemic began in 2020. He was widely ridiculed for conducting a series of playful interviews with his big brother at the height of the pandemic while the governor’s state was in crisis. The two would chide each other’s looks, perform prop comedy and quarrel over their love for their mother, but the anchor would also give the governor a platform to show his leadership in the midst of the pandemic. The interviews took place when critics scolded the CNN host for ignoring the state’s COVID nursing home crisis before finally lobbing a softball question about it after he skipped it during several appearances.
Cuomo was previously prevented from covering the New York governor, a rule that was apparently repealed by the network at the beginning of the pandemic and later implemented again when the Democrat was engulfed by a tsunami of political scandals.
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Earlier this year, it was revealed that Chris Cuomo was the recipient of the Cuomo administration when he received priority COVID testing in the first months of the pandemic when ordinary New Yorkers fought.
The younger Cuomo was eventually diagnosed with the virus back in March 2020. It is unknown whether the positive COVID test he took was funded by himself, his employer or by taxpayers in New York.
In the midst of his recovery in April, he was caught quarantining and was seen outside on another property in the Hamptons, which was in clear violation of his brother’s COVID guidelines. This led to a quarrel between the anchor and the cyclist who called him out. The cyclist later filed a police report. Also in April, the CNN anchor strangely staged his own resurrection from the basement of his Hamptons home after his outdoor altercations were widely reported.
In August, Cuomo noticeably ignored allegations against his brother in the air, raising questions about CNN’s involvement in ethical journalism before finally making a statement when Andrew Cuomo announced he would resign.
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.
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