Former CNN journalist Chris Cuomo is seeking a staggering $125 in damages from the company after he was fired for his role in his governor brother’s sexual harassment scandal.
Cuomo was fired from his prime-time role in December for inappropriately assisting his governor brother’s response to the scandal.
In a statement, Cuomo’s attorney argued CNN “wrongfully terminated” its star anchorman and “violated the express terms of his employment agreement by allowing its employees to disparage him.”
Cuomo’s lawyer, Bryan Freedman, went on to say that CNN made Cuomo “the scapegoat” of a larger scandal involving CNN’s dealings with the Cuomo brothers, which culminated in the ousting of network president Jeff Zucker and his longtime lieutenant, Allison Gollust, last month.
Cuomo’s team has insisted since his dismissal that CNN’s top brass was always aware of his role in assisting then-New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, despite Zucker telling employees that he was misled on this point by Chris Cuomo, a former close friend.
In their filing, Cuomo’s lawyers argued “an apparent rush to judgment and caving to uninformed public and internal pressure that was based on speculation and assumption rather than facts.”
They wrote that the $125 million he is seeking represents not just $15 million remaining from his CNN contract but also future “decades of earnings” that they argue he has been deprived of because “CNN’s calculated efforts to tar and feather him” left him “untouchable in the world of broadcast journalism.”
Their filing also lashes out at CNN’s top executives, essentially accusing them of some of the same ethical transgressions that ensnared Cuomo.
Media critics had raised concerns about CNN’s decision to let Cuomo interview his brother about his handling of New York’s pandemic crisis in a series of jocular broadcasts in the spring of 2020.
In the filing, Cuomo’s team claims that CNN leadership “demanded” he conduct these interviews, “despite Cuomo’s and Gov. Cuomo’s expressed reservations.”
The filing also suspected that Zucker and Gollust “acted as advisors” to then-Gov. Cuomo and provided him “with talking points and strategies,” a charge that both have earlier denied.
At the time of Cuomo’s firing in December, CNN had also been made aware of a complaint of sexual misconduct made against Cuomo by a former colleague at ABC News. On Wednesday, March 16, his legal team maintained that the complaint was “entirely fabricated.”
After CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, hired a law firm to investigate the company’s handling of the Cuomo matter, Zucker and Gollust resigned.
When questioned about it, the two admitted that they had started a romantic relationship, which was against company policy.
Source: The Washington Post