Chris Cuomo, who was fired by CNN in December 2021 for helping his brother Andrew Cuomo deal with a sexual harassment scandal, is seeking $125 million from the WarnerMedia-owned network for “unlawful termination.”
In an arbitration filing on Wednesday, his attorneys stated that Cuomo “has been damaged in countless ways” as a result of the “indefensible choice to unceremoniously fire him.” They further said, “Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for him to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million, which includes not only the remaining salary owed under the Agreement, but future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement.”
Cuomo was terminated by CNN with immediate effect in December, after a review uncovered the extent of his involvement in helping his brother, the former New York Governor, deal with the sexual harassment allegations he was facing. The anchor himself had admitted in May that he had breached some of the channel’s rules and advised his brother on handling the allegations from the perspective of public relations.
Shortly after his termination, HarperCollins pulled Cuomo’s book-in-progress, Deep Denial, from publication.
The arbitration filing claims that CNN’s highest-level executives not only knew about Cuomo’s involvement in helping his brother but also actively assisted the former Governor, both through Cuomo and directly. It alleges that Cuomo was made the scapegoat when the practices were questioned. The executives referred to are ex-CNN employees Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust.
Both Zucker and Gollust had resigned shortly after Cuomo was fired following further investigation by the network, which revealed an undisclosed romantic relationship between the two.
“Before Cuomo was terminated, Zucker at first claimed that he had been unaware of Cuomo’s discussions with Governor Cuomo’s aides, when Zucker had done the same thing himself. After Cuomo’s termination, Zucker claimed that Cuomo had broken his word and that Cuomo misrepresented the extent of his support for his brother. Other CNN staff joined in the calculated campaign to smear Cuomo and destroy his reputation,” says the filing. It names other CNN anchors such as Jake Tapper, Don Lemon, and Brian Stelter as being part of this ‘smear campaign’.
CNN is yet to respond to Cuomo’s demand for arbitration.