Jeff Zucker Says Chris Cuomo ‘Made a Mistake’ By Joining Strategy Calls With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo

By A.J. Katz 

During a CNN town hall with staffers, the first since the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger was announced last week, WarnerMedia News and Sports chairman Jeff Zucker was asked why Cuomo Primetime anchor Chris Cuomo wasn’t disciplined for participating in strategy sessions with his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and his aides on how the governor should respond to allegations of sexual harassment.

According to multiple reports, Zucker said there had been frustration over the matter among CNN staffers who felt the conversations represented a conflict of interest and said that the CNN anchor had “made a mistake.”

“I am not surprised that Chris had conversations with his brother. Who wouldn’t? But he did cross the line by doing it with his brother’s aides present,” Zucker reportedly told CNN employees. He assured those on the call that  “there are not special rules for Chris” and that “he is human and these are very unique circumstances,” referring to the anchor’s relationship with the governor and the network’s grappling last year with how to cover a “once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Zucker said during the town hall meeting that he didn’t see the point of suspending Cuomo, adding that taking him off the air temporarily would amount to “punishment for the sake of punishing.”
During the same town hall, Zucker also addressed the merger, and said a CNN streaming platform was in the works, known internally as CNN+, would continue to be developed as a stand-alone service. According to WSJ, Zucker said that it would be launching within the next year.
Zucker was also asked whether the deal with Discovery Inc. changes his plans to remain at the network through the expiration of his contract later this year. Zucker responded by saying he is “still on the same timetable” that he announced earlier this year, but that in light of the deal, he plans to give his future at the network additional consideration. It’s worth remembering that Zucker and the CEO of the new company David Zaslav have been friends for decades, and if there’s anyone who could convince Zucker to remain at CNN, Zaslav would probably be that person.