CNN's Brian Stelter said it's 'possible' embattled Prime Time host Chris Cuomo could be back on the air as soon as January after he was suspended 'indefinitely' Tuesday by the network for advising his brother in his sexual harassment probe.
After news of his suspension broke, Cuomo's co-worker told CNN's New Day host John Berman that although the network suspended Cuomo 'indefinitely,' the host could be back on the job shortly after the holidays due to high demand from viewers who are 'ticked off' he's off the air.
'Cuomo is on the bench for now,' Stelter told Berman. 'We're heading into a holiday season. I think it's possible he will be on the bench for several weeks. It's possible he'll be back in January.'
But CNN reiterated Wednesday that the suspension is 'indefinite,' with a spokesperson telling Fox News: 'The suspension is indefinite. There is no end date. It will remain that way until after a review. The statement couldn't be any more clear.'
The cable news network on Tuesday evening announced that Chris Cuomo, 51, was suspended indefinitely, with Anderson Cooper extending his hour-long show to two hours to cover Chris' 9 p.m. slot.
The news came a day after the New York Attorney General's Office released transcripts and exhibits, showing that the TV presenter provided greater assistance to his older brother than initially led on to both his employer and the public.
Oliver Darcy, co-author of CNN's Reliable Sources newsletter with Stelter, had also shared that it was possible Cuomo's suspension would last just 'weeks' in their newsletter on Tuesday.
'Cuomo has been suspended by CNN - not for a few days, not for some faux “vacation,“ but for an indefinite period of time, “pending further evaluation,“ the network said,' Darcy wrote.
'The CNN spokesman who shared the suspension decision did not get into any further details, but it's possible that Cuomo - who frequently ranks as the highest-rated host on the network - will remain on the bench for weeks.'
But the CNN spokesperson denied Stelter and Darcy's timeframe on Wednesday and said there is currently no 'end date' in sight for the suspension.
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 has an annual salary of $6 million.
On Monday, transcripts of emails and Chris Cuomo’s testimony before state investigators revealed that he strategized regularly with the then-governor's aides, and tried to help them learn what other journalists were reporting about harassment allegations.
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigation found that Andrew Cuomo, 63, sexually harassed at least 11 women. He had resigned as governor in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial.
Charlotte Bennett, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo who accused him of making inappropriate remarks to her, demanded that CNN fire the former governor's brother without waiting for the outcome of an internal review.
'Yesterday, we learned just how far Chris Cuomo was willing to go to discredit, silence and smear women, like me, who came forward to report Governor Cuomo's sexual misconduct,' Bennett wrote in a statement that she tweeted out on Tuesday.
Bennett continued: 'CNN must immediately take action. The network need not investigate his behavior - the investigation is over, and yesterday we received answers: Just like his older brother, Chris Cuomo used his time, network and resources to help smear victims, dig up opposition research, and belittle our credible allegations. His behavior is reprehensible, unprofessional and inexcusable.'
'CNN must act - now. Anything short of firing Chris Cuomo reflects a network lacking both morals and a backbone.'
The last time he talked to his brother about the charges, Chris Cuomo said during his testimony, was to figure out what was going to happen and what he would tell their 90-year-old mother.
Cuomo has insisted he has done nothing to try and influence CNN’s coverage of his brother’s political problems, and that it would be quickly found out if he did.
Throughout his testimony, Chris frequently invoked family when asked to explain his frequent contact — often combative — with Andrew’s aides as they tried to figure out a way to save the governor’s job.
'This is my brother, and I’m trying to help my brother through a situation where he has told me he did nothing wrong,' Chris testified. 'And that’s it for me. How do I help protect my family? How do I protect him? Probably should have been thinking more about how I protect myself, which just never occurred to me.'
At the request of his brother’s aides, Cuomo also used his contacts to find out what other journalists were going to report, most notably the New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow. Cuomo argued 'the idea of one reporter calling another to find out what’s coming down the pipe is completely business as usual.'
Cuomo testified that he didn’t tell anyone at CNN that he was contacting other journalists to find out about the Farrow piece.
On March 1, Chris said on air that he was aware of the accusations about his brother, after a third woman came forward to accuse him.
But he said he could not report on it.
'Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother,' he said.
'And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.'
He then moved on, having thanked his audience 'for being straight with me, and I've always been straight with you'.
He said he 'always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so.'
After Letitia James released the transcripts, journalists and some politicians were calling for Cuomo to be fired immediately, calling his actions 'deeply unethical'.
Rolling Stone was among the publications that led the charge on Monday. It published a story about the texts with the headline: 'Chris Cuomo Caught Doing Something That Would Get Any Other Journalist Fired.'
Journalists from NPR, The Los Angeles Times, The Independent and other outlets also shared their shock on social media and said his actions would have gotten any of them fired.
New York Times columnist Jane Coaston appeared on The View where she called Cuomo's actions 'an abuse of power'.
'This is a massive ethical breach. If you work at a news agency like I do, we do, you understand there are just basic things like if you found out that an intern did this they'd be gone a second after these text messages came in. This is an abuse of power.
'The only reason that Chris Cuomo was able to do any of this, get sources on some of his accusers... you see in these text messages how it is not just Chris Cuomo, to be clear. You see people talking about these accusers like they are just nuisances,' she said.
Rolling Stone editor-in-chief Noah Schachtman then tweeted: 'If this story is accurate, it describes a series of shocking ethical breaches — fireable offenses at any other news outlet.'
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.