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CNN Execs Pressured Andrew Cuomo to Appear on Brother Chris’s Show for Ratings

CNN Execs Pressured Andrew Cuomo to Appear on Brother Chris’s Show for Ratings

According to a new book by an aide to disgraced NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, CNN’s top brass circumvented the normal channels to lure the ex-governor onto his brother, Chris’s show during the COVID pandemic.

Melissa DeRosa, Andrew Cuomo’s onetime secretary, says in her upcoming book, What’s Left Unsaid, that CNN was eager to use the governor’s appearance to boost the network’s ratings. In the book, DeRosa claims that when she pushed back on Chris Cuomo’s producer, telling them the governor wouldn’t be available to appear on the program one evening, then-CNN president Jeff Zucker and chief marketing officer Allison Gollust immediately rang up Andrew Cuomo and guilt-tripped him into changing his mind.

In DeRosa’s telling, this occurred at the height of the pandemic when the Cuomo brothers’ “love-a-thon” segments had become a staple of CNN’s weeknight programming, with the network riding the wave of high ratings despite the obvious conflict of interest issues stemming from a CNN journalist interviewing his politician brother.

CNN eventually reinforced its ban on “Cuomo on Cuomo” appearances, which was first put in place in 2013 but relaxed during the pandemic after Andrew Cuomo became embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal that ultimately led to his resignation as governor. The governor’s downfall in 2021 was soon followed by that of Chris Cuomo himself, who was ousted from CNN that December— for, among other things, digging up dirt on his brother’s accusers. Zucker and Gollust were soon gone themselves, undone by an internal investigation into their own close ties with the disgraced ex-governor and a failure to disclose their sexual relationship.

Chris Cuomo’s softball interviews with his brother were a source of controversy given the obvious conflict of interest, though DeRosa wrote that she “didn’t see a problem with the arrangement.”

DeRosa’s claims further expose the friendly relationship that Zucker and Gollust—who once served as Andrew Cuomo’s spokesperson—enjoyed with the longtime New York governor. Her book also lends support to a narrative that Chris Cuomo’s legal team has argued since his firing: The ex-New York governor and the network were intimately entangled in a way that went well beyond the Cuomo brothers’ familial bonds.

DeRosa wrote in her book that she felt that CNN was correct in relaxing the “No Cuomo-Cuomo” interview rule given the “unprecedented crisis.”

“In fact, we didn’t even discuss it as an issue at the beginning; it happened the same way everything else did then — on the fly. And the public loved it,” she wrote.

“In the absence of being able to be with their own families, they got to watch one on TV. The interviews were factual and informative but included brotherly banter and teasing, each ending with three words: ‘I love you.’”

According to DeRosa, Zucker “leaned into” the banter-filled on-air sessions between the brothers, thrilled with the ratings they were bringing in.

But DeRosa wrote that she began to have doubts that it was sustainable given that prominent journalists from both within CNN and at other news agencies were highly critical of the arrangement.

“While things may have appeared rosy to viewers at home, behind the scenes, the arrangement began to cause agita and became a source of consternation between the governor and me,” the former aide wrote.

DeRosa wrote that she tried to dissuade her boss from appearing, telling him: “The schtick was great at the beginning — comforting even, but it’s too much now. The jokes, the back-and-forth.”

“At some point soon, the press is going to blow the whistle on this. Let’s end it before they do,” DeRosa reportedly told the then-governor.

“If they wanted the governor on air, CNN would reach out initially through our press office, but they wouldn’t take ‘no’ or even ‘maybe’ for an answer,” DeRosa wrote.

“Anything less than a solid commitment, and either Allison or Jeff would go running straight to the governor. I typically found out about the arrangement afterward and would then coordinate with Allison on the back end.”

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