Entertainment

Chris Cuomo is preparing to SUE network for $18M left of his salary


Former star anchor Chris Cuomo is preparing to sue his former employer for $18 million left on his contract, claiming that CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about his involvement in his brother’s sex pest probe.

The network fired Cuomo, 51, on Saturday citing the journalist’s role in defending his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about the cooperation, which the network called ‘patently false.’  

He has now hired lawyers and is preparing to file a suit against CNN if it does not honor the remainder of the four year contract he signed last year, under which he receives $6 million a year, according to the New York Post.

But unnamed sources told the Post that the network has ‘no intention of paying Cuomo a penny,’ noting that ‘if he gets a settlement, there would be an uproar.’  

Former star anchor Chris Cuomo (pictured) has hired lawyers to sue his former employer, CNN, for $18 million left on his contract 

Cuomo was fired on Saturday amid revelations that he helped coordinate the media response to sexual harassment allegations against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right

Cuomo was fired on Saturday amid revelations that he helped coordinate the media response to sexual harassment allegations against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, right

Cuomo was fired from his position on Saturday after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a trove of documents revealing that he had called his ‘sources’ about planned news reports regarding his brother as he tried to dig up dirt on at least one of the former governor’s accusers.

Lawyers from the firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore reportedly told CNN officials that the documents gave the network legal grounds to fire the Cuomo Prime Time Star.

But it appears likely that accusations that he sexually harassed a former co-worker at ABC was the final straw that led to his firing – a move which would appear to slightly ease the pressure on Zucker. 

The network was set to investigate an unspecified allegation dating back to Cuomo’s time at ABC before he was fired, the Post report.

His firing came just days after prominent attorney Debra S. Katz, a prominent attorney who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennet,  told CNN about a client with an allegation of sexual harassment against the younger Cuomo, according to the New York Times

The allegation is ‘unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter,’ Katz said in a statement.

Chris Cuomo’s spokesman has insisted: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’

But the former CNN star had also previously been accused of sexually harassing his female superior at ABC back in 2005.  

In an op-ed for the Times in September, producer Shelley Ross wrote that Cuomo walked up to her, hugged her and firmly grasped her buttocks as her husband sat behind her.

‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said, according to Ross.

Karen Agnifilo, a lawyer and former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, told Fox News that Cuomo is likely to use the same defense as his brother.

‘I think [Gov. Cuomo’s] brother should do the Cuomo playbook: “We hugged, we kissed, we’re affectionate. It’s how we were raised,'” Agnifilo said, adding that any case would have to proceed in public court.

‘CNN will have to turn over things like emails and employee files and other discovery-related documents. And then people will have to sit for depositions and interrogatories, and depending on what comes out in all that will depend on whether they had knowledge or didn’t have knowledge,’ Agnifilo said. 

‘All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out.’

California attorney Benjamin Eghbali says CNN is likely to 'push the blame completely on Chris Cuomo, and say they had no knowledge'

California attorney Benjamin Eghbali says CNN is likely to ‘push the blame completely on Chris Cuomo, and say they had no knowledge’

Chris Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker, left, knew about his involvement in his brother's defense, which CNN called 'patently false'

Chris Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker, left, knew about his involvement in his brother’s defense, which CNN called ‘patently false’

But California attorney Benjamin Eghbali previously told Fox News that Cuomo will be held to a similar standard as disgraced Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein if people decide to sue CNN alleging a cover-up.

‘They’re going to try to push the blame completely on Chris Cuomo, and say they had no knowledge,’ Eghbali said of CNN.

‘So, the plaintiff’s job is going to be to show that there was some sort of knowledge on CNN’s side and they looked the other way … If they cannot prove that burden, then they will not be able to hold CNN responsible.’  

CNN’s statement cited only Cuomo’s ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’ in its decision to terminate the anchor.

A spokesman for Cuomo told the Wall Street Journal Sunday: ‘Mr. Cuomo has the highest level of admiration and respect for Mr. Zucker.

‘They were widely known to be extremely close and in regular contact, including about the details of Mr. Cuomo’s support for his brother.’

CNN disagreed with their former star’s characterization of events.

‘He has made a number of accusations that are patently false,’ the network said in a statement. ‘This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.’

A CNN insider on Monday also called Cuomo’s claims ‘absurd’ and ‘patently untrue,’ noting: ‘If Jeff had known all along, Chris would have been fired earlier, not suspended.’ 

Zucker hired Cuomo from ABC News in 2013. He demonstrated considerable compassion for Cuomo during the summer, when the saga with his brother Andrew unfolded

Zucker hired Cuomo from ABC News in 2013. He demonstrated considerable compassion for Cuomo during the summer, when the saga with his brother Andrew unfolded

In an announcement released Saturday afternoon, the network revealed that more information had come to light during its internal investigation into the anchor - which is still ongoing

In an announcement released Saturday afternoon, the network revealed that more information had come to light during its internal investigation into the anchor – which is still ongoing

Earlier this year, Cuomo told CNN viewers and executives that he had indeed assisted his brother’s team, but that his involvement had been minimal.

But last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James released text messages between Cuomo and his brother’s staff showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations and provided help in strategy and communications.

‘Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense,’ the network said in a statement.

The announcement further revealed that an outside law firm was enlisted by the network to aid in their investigation into how exactly their star anchor aided his brother, Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, try to fight off a sexual harassment scandal this year.

Former prosecutor and attorney Karen Agnifilo said: 'All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out'

Former prosecutor and attorney Karen Agnifilo said: ‘All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out’

‘We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.’

After amassing a trove of texts and documents pointing to a serious breach of network standards by the journalist, CNN notified Cuomo of his termination Saturday, the network’s statement revealed.

Cuomo, 51, acknowledged his axing the same day, expressing regret for his part of the scandal, but still asserting that he was only helping his brother, who was forced to resign in August to avoid impeachment over the allegations.

‘This is not how I want my time at CNN to end,’ the veteran TV journalist wrote in a post published to social media.

‘But I have already told you why and how I helped my brother.’

Cuomo joined CNN as a field anchor in February 2013 following stints at ABC and Fox News. After rising through the ranks, he was tapped in March 2018 to host Cuomo Prime Time.

According to some estimates, Cuomo had an annual salary of $6 million.

 

On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released texts between Cuomo and his brother's staff, showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations

On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released texts between Cuomo and his brother’s staff, showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations

His 9pm show, Cuomo Prime Time, was CNN’s highest rated broadcast. It drew an average of 774,000 viewers during November, when it ranked No. 25 among all cable TV news programs – right behind Anderson Cooper’s show.

However, the network saw a 19 percent bump after Cuomo was suspended Tuesday and Cooper filled in. The network has not indicated who will be his permanent replacement.

Zucker, 56, hired Cuomo from ABC News in 2013 in one of his first moves when he took over CNN, and demonstrated considerable compassion for Cuomo during the summer, when the saga unfolded.

Zucker had promoted Cuomo to prime time in 2018, letting him have the prized 9pm hour, and setting him against the influential Rachel Maddow at MSNBC and Sean Hannity at Fox News.

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August after the state Attorney General released a report detailing sexual harassment allegations from 11 different women

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August after the state Attorney General released a report detailing sexual harassment allegations from 11 different women

In 2019, Zucker was full of praise for his star, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Cuomo was ‘the perfect cable news anchor.’

When The Washington Post reported in May that the news anchor had been advising his brother on strategy, in a breach of journalistic protocol, Zucker defended him and said that he was in a unique and very difficult position.

‘Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,’ the network said in a statement.

‘In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.

‘However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.

‘He will not participate in such conversations going forward.’

The network said Cuomo would not be disciplined at the time.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned from his job as governor in August after AG James released a report detailing sexual harassment accusations from 11 different women. 

Chris Cuomo QUITS SiriusXM show after being fired from CNN

Chris Cuomo is quitting his SiriusXM show after being fired from CNN, he announced on Monday.

In a statement on his twitter, the former star anchor discussed his decision to step down from the radio show, explaining that the recently surfaced sexual harassment claims against him have been difficult for his family. 

‘The way my time ended at CNN was hard,’ he wrote on Monday. ‘While I have a thick skin, I also have a family, for whom the past week has been extraordinarily difficult.

‘So right now, I have to take a step back and focus on what comes next.

‘That means I will no longer be doing my SiriusXM radio show,’ he announced. ‘I am extremely grateful for the support I have received from Sirius XM throughout my time there.

‘I also want to express my sincere appreciation for my loyal listeners,’ he continued. ‘I will miss our conversations a great deal – but I look forward to being back in touch with you all in the future.’ 

Chris Cuomo quit his SiriusXM show on Monday after being fired from CNN

Chris Cuomo quit his SiriusXM show on Monday after being fired from CNN

He announced his decision to step down from the show in a tweet Monday afternoon

He announced his decision to step down from the show in a tweet Monday afternoon

The revelation came after Cuomo did not appear on his program Monday afternoon, leaving some to question where the host was.

He was replaced as the host of the two-hour show ‘Let’s Get After It’ by Brian Ross, who said he was ‘filling in’ when the program started.

A source familiar with the situation told the New York Post earlier on Monday: ‘Chris decided to take the day off today from SiriusXM, he is not going on today to focus on his current situation.’

The source added: ‘His contract is up in 2022 and it remains to be seen what happens to that point.’

 



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