Chris Cuomo has returned to the airwaves for the first time since he was ousted from CNN, insisting that he has ‘learnt lessons’ from his ignominious departure, and promising to counter ‘groupthink’.
‘This show will be topical, but it won’t be typical,’ said Cuomo, 52, in what was seen as a thinly-veiled dig at his former employer.
‘I’m not going to follow the pack – I’m here to expose the game.’
Cuomo was fired from CNN in December 2021 after it emerged that he had been secretly advising his brother Andrew, the then-governor of New York, on media strategy when he was confronted with allegations of sexual harassment.
Cuomo is currently suing CNN for $125 million in unpaid wages.
On Monday night, the fallen star anchor said he had had time to think about his mistakes and learn from them.
Chris Cuomo on Monday launched his new NewsNation show
Cuomo is reportedly earning $1 million a year at NewsNation – a sharp decrease from his CNN salary of $6 million annually
Quoting Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Cuomo said he believed ‘the past is prologue’.
‘All that has happened before has led to this moment,’ he told viewers.
‘I’ve learnt lessons, good and bad.’
Cuomo thanked his family, friends, and therapist for their support, and said he was excited to return to the news anchor role.
He said he was ‘humbled by what happened, and hungry to do better than before’, promising to ‘do more – to not just play, or even referee, the game’.
Cuomo’s CNN show was the top-rated program in both 2019 and 2020, averaging two million nightly viewers in 2020.
NewsNation averaged only 46,000 viewers in prime time last year, The Washington Post reported.
Cuomo last week told podcast host Kara Swisher that he knew his new show was a step down – but on Monday he said he still had a lot to give.
He insisted he had unparalleled insight into politics, owing to his father and brother being former governors of New York.
‘I’ve seen the inner workings of campaigns,’ he said.
‘I know the deal, inside and out.
‘I want to bring all of that to the table to help you.
‘I want you to count on me to going where it matters.’
And he said he was aiming to provide ‘depth of discussion’.
‘As loud and as angry as our world can sound: regular people like you, not the fringe, are the overwhelming majority,’ he said.
‘We are still nowhere near our potential. We are manipulated by manufactured division.’
He said his show would be ‘old school’, promoting a phone line for people to call in.
He said he wanted discussion, not social media diatribes – ‘not raging radicals or someone with keyboard muscles.’
Among those to call in were his 91-year-old mother Matilda, who said he was doing a wonderful job, and said his show was very important.
Chris Cuomo on the set of his new NewsNation show, which launched on Monday at 8pm EST
His NewsNation show is set to feature guests like Anthony Fauci, Whoopi Goldberg, Bill Maher, and Tulsi Gabbard in its first week.
On Monday his guests included John Bolton, Dan Rather, and Bill Maher.
Maher, emphasizing Cuomo’s theme of bringing together people from left and right, told him: ‘You know, conservative is not a bad word. I mean, we have to get over this hatred of the other side because their politics are different.’
He added: ‘You know, there’s this thing I call the ‘good as it gets’ Republican. You know, Bill Barr, Mitch McConnell, Liz Cheney, Mike Pence. At the end of the day, they all did the right thing on the one key issue, which is, did Trump win that election? And they all said, No, he didn’t.
‘Okay, I don’t agree with their politics on much else, but that’s as good as it gets Republican. You’re not going to get them to agree with you on most things.
‘If you went down a list of the things Liz Cheney believes most liberals would be booing her out of the room, but she gets cheers now because on that one issue, which is the most fundamental issue right now, she did the right thing.’
Cuomo, at the conclusion, said the show was ‘the best I could have imagined’.
Cuomo’s debut came mere days after implying the new show was a step down from his former primetime glory.
During his appearance on On With Kara Swisher last week, the NY Magazine editor pointed out the incongruity of Cuomo’s lawsuit’s claims about his future employment, versus his new primetime show.
Cuomo will reportedly earn $1 million for his new hosting gig on NewsNation – a fraction of his former $6 million-a-year paycheck at CNN.
He is suing, claiming that CNN’s dismissal of him was unfair, and made him unemployable.
‘And you have a new job now, which I’d like to talk about – so you can be hired apparently,’ said Swisher, after reading a passage from his lawsuit.
‘Well, do you believe that where I am now is equivalent to where I was?’ Cuomo responded.
‘Depends on what you do with it,’ Swisher said.
Cuomo replied: ‘I’m talking to you in my dining room. I was the number one show at CNN and I would be recognized in Malawi as much as I would be in Milwaukee. That is a very different.’
Swisher, editor of New York Magazine, asked Cuomo how his firing from CNN made him unhireable as he has already landed a new job
Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was grilled by journalist Kara Swisher and asked about his termination at CNN as he sues the network for $125 million over his firing
‘I was helping him in ways that I thought were reasonable,’ said Chris Cuomo, right, of helping his brother Andrew, left, defend against sexual harassment allegations
Despite his hiatus from broadcaster’s chair, Cuomo has remained in the headlines since his departure from CNN.
Many have speculated Cuomo may have sparked the shakeup currently rocking CNN by ratting on former CEO Jeff Zucker over a consensual relationship with the network’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust, which led directly to the executive’s firing.
Asked whether he leaked news about the affair by Swisher, Cuomo vehemently denied the rumors.
‘No, I didn’t,’ he said. ‘People think a lot of things and very often it’s for bad reason or self-serving reason or to hurt somebody else,’ Cuomo said. ‘I’m not the guy to play petty, gotcha shots and go after people.’
He went on to call Zucker ‘one of the best makers of television’ and the relationship being revealed gave him ‘no joy,’ adding that Zucker ‘gave me tremendous opportunities.’
Despite the kind words for his former boss, Cuomo bitterly lamented that he was ‘recognized in Malawi as much as I would be in Milwaukee’ before his firing.
Swisher glossed over an anonymous sexual assault allegation against Cuomo, and simply checked if he denied the allegations.
The former CNN front man bluntly answered ‘yes’ to each of Swisher’s questions about the subject before she moved on to the next subject, refusing to dig deeper into it.
Swisher also went easy on the former CNN anchor when it came to his brother’s sexual harassment allegations, and the ex-governor’s younger brother dutifully sidestepped the questions anyway.
When asked whether he felt it was inappropriate for him to help his brother wriggle out of the allegations, Cuomo said ‘what’s the difference between helping him personally and strategically?’
Former CNN boss Jeff Zucker was terminated from his position when he didn’t disclose a relationship with CNN executive Allison Gollust, though Cuomo denies exposing them
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust, who resigned along with Zucker, is thought to have engaged in the relationship with him for years
Cuomo continues to maintain he doesn’t see anything wrong with his actions, and says because he wasn’t covering his brother’s allegations, he was free to help him.
‘I was helping him in ways that I thought were reasonable,’ said Cuomo.
‘I don’t know how it hurt the audience. I’ve never heard that it hurt the audience,’ he said of his helping shape his brother’s defense against sexual harassment allegations.
At the time he issued an on-air apology on CNN, Cuomo said that he ‘knows where the line is’.
He addressed the conflict of interest again in his podcast, saying: ‘I really do regret how everything ended, but I will never regret helping my family.’
Andrew Cuomo’s career collapsed as a politician after he was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior towards 11 women.
He resigned in August 2021 after months of pushback and eventually all criminal charges were dropped against him.
Cuomo was found to have helped his brother, ex-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (pictured here), defend himself from sexual harassment allegations from 11 women
The charges against Cuomo were based on allegations by Brittany Commisso, who said Cuomo reached up her blouse and grabbed her breast in late 2020 while they were alone in his Executive Mansion office, where she´d been summoned to help with his cellphone.
He insisted he did no such thing, saying ‘it would be an act of insanity.’
Commisso’s testimony was among the most damning in a report released in August 2021 by Democratic state Attorney General Letitia James that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
Chris maintains that he was not ‘the main guy’ in helping his brother overcome the allegations and was merely a ‘side piece’ in the efforts.
This notion is backed up by notes from his brother’s top aide Melissa DeRosa, who noted ‘Chris sends me a lot of things a lot of the time. Half of it I don’t engage in. He gives unsolicited advice.’
The former governor was also blamed for many of New York’s 15,000 nursing home COVID deaths after forcing the facilities to accept COVID-positive patients at the start of the pandemic.
Chris chummily interviewed his brother on his CNN show during this time, and admitted to Swisher he knew having his brother on his show was a conflict of interest ‘all day long.’
He defended the decision.
‘When I did have him on, it was not about news and covering a governor of state,’ he said.
‘That’s all I’m saying.’