After a week off, Chris Cuomo is slated to return to Cuomo Primetime on Monday, his first time hosting since his older brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, announced that he would be resigning later this month in light of the New York attorney general’s investigation concluded he sexually harassed 11 women, some of whom were state staffers.
Gov. Cuomo denies the allegations.
The CNN host put his employer in a bad spot when he admitted to participating in strategy sessions with the governor’s staff on how to handle the sexual harassment allegations. Yes, family is family, but the circumstances are different when you’re a high-profile news journalist on TV every night, and that family member is a high-profile public figure under intense scrutiny.
Cuomo avoided discussing the investigation into his brother’s scandal for the remainder of last week—a mandate from his CNN bosses—and it remains to be seen whether he will discuss the matter on Monday.
The Washington Post‘s Jeremy Barr writes “some say he should,” and adds insight from a news media executive.
The executive tells WaPo:
“Chris could make a statement that his part in this saga has been adjudicated by CNN already and that outcome had nothing to do with the results or the substance of his brother’s guilt or innocence,” said a media executive who requested anonymity to speak candidly about a sensitive situation. “He could hit that hard and say, you know, ‘We move on. Case closed. New chapter. Move forward.’ And he could hope, and CNN could hope, that the story then just sort of goes away.”
On how Cuomo’s core audience will respond to the saga, Barr also spoke with University of Michigan lecturer on journalism and politics Robert Yoon, who spent 18 years at CNN before leaving in 2017 as the network’s director of political research. Yoon thinks Cuomo’s audience, like CNN’s powers-that-be, will forgive him.
“If [viewers] feel that a cable news personality is on their side, so to speak, they’re willing to find reasons to excuse their behavior,” he said. “If people like Chris Cuomo’s approach to the news and his take on things, they’ll continue to find a way to support him.”
CNN certainly hopes so because ratings for the broadcast have been mediocre as of late. In fact, according to Nielsen, after the 168-page report on Gov. Cuomo was released last Tuesday, Cuomo Prime Time averaged 453,000 total female viewers per show for the rest of that week, a -21% drop off from his April, May and June average.
Now to be fair, unless there’s a major news event, cable news ratings in August are usually lower than in April-June, scandal or no scandal. Hannity and The Rachel Maddow have seen a decline in female viewership as well. That being said, -21% is a significant decline, and it will be interesting to see whether the broadcast bounces back in the coming days and weeks.