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Jake Tapper poised to replace Chris Cuomo on CNN

CNN host Jake Tapper is rumored to be the top choice to replace former star anchor Chris Cuomo after he was fired from the network Saturday. 

Tapper, 52, is one of many candidates vying for the position following Cuomo’s departure as the network scrambles to find his replacement.

The network fired Cuomo, 51, for defending his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, against multiple sexual harassment charges. Chris Cuomo has since claimed CNN president Jeff Zucker knew about the arrangement and is preparing to sue the network for the $18 million left on his contract.

An insider source revealed this week that the position will most likely go to Tapper.   

‘It’s Jake — by a long stretch,’ the source told Radar. ‘Jake star has been on the rise for a long time.

‘He is the logical choice, but if he takes over, it will have a cascading effect because Jake’s unlikely to be able to continue State of the Union and remain lead DC anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent. In short, this really has screwed with CNN’s programming line-up.

‘The only saving grace is that it is the end of the year and network bosses can position 2022 as a revamped line-up.’

CNN host Jake Tapper is rumored to be the top candidate to fill former star anchor Chris Cuomo’s position 

Cuomo was fired from the network on Saturday for defending his brother former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo against multiple sexual harassment charges

Since Cuomo’s departure, radio host Michael Smerconish is temporarily filling in the role for the week after being appointed by Zucker.

Other candidates for the position include the network’s Reliable Sources anchor Brian Stelter.

However, the source noted, ‘The only one who thinks Brian could do 9pm is Brian himself.’

MSNBC host Brian Williams also was noted as a possible choice, despite the fact that he previously left his position at NBC’s Nightly News after 28 years, for making false claims about his work during the Iraq War in 2003. He hosted on MSNBC afterwards but plans to leave when his contract expires this month.

Another possibility is political commentator and writer S.E. Cupp, one of the sole rumored female candidates. She hosts S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered on the network.

Despite these rumors, the source has since dismissed Cupp as a possibility.

Another speculated candidate for the role has been CNN's Reliable Sources anchor Brian Stelter

MSNBC host Brian Williams has also been considered a possibility

Other speculated candidates for the role have been CNN’s Reliable Sources anchor Brian Stelter (left) and MSNBC host Brian Williams (right )

S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered host S.E. Cupp has been rumored to be one of the sole female candidates for the role

S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered host S.E. Cupp has been rumored to be one of the sole female candidates for the role

‘Consider Zucker’s position, though,’ the source noted. ‘Can S.E. Cupp draw an audience big enough to beat Rachel Maddow at MSNBC or FOX News’ Sean Hannity? It’s unlikely. This could be the biggest decision of Zucker’s career.’

But the majority of networks, except for CNN, have a female anchor during their primetime lineup. 

A couple of women who are rumored options include CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell, and Laura Coates, CNN’s senior legal analyst who has appeared on CNN Tonight With Don Lemon, as noted by The Wrap.   

Before Cuomo was suspended November 30, then fired, several of the network’s staff members, including Tapper, were reportedly angry at CNN for not taking action sooner. 

‘The people with knowledge of the situation said CNN boss Jeff Zucker had felt serious heat from infuriated talent, including Jake Tapper, over the last 24 hours and acted to yank Cuomo off the air while the review is carried out,’ a source with the Daily Beast reported.

Tapper also previously told the New York Times that Cuomo had ‘put the network in a bad spot.’  

Cuomo was fired from his position Saturday, days after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a trove of documents revealing that he had called his ‘sources’ about planned news reports regarding his brother as he tried to dig up dirt on at least one of the former governor’s accusers.

Lawyers from the firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore reportedly told CNN officials that the documents gave the network legal grounds to fire the Cuomo Prime Time star.  

But it appears likely that an accusation that he sexually harassed a former co-worker at ABC was the final straw that led to his firing – a move which would appear to slightly ease the pressure on Zucker. 

The network was set to investigate an unspecified allegation dating back to Cuomo’s time at ABC before he was fired, the Post report.

Debra S. Katz, a prominent attorney who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennet, told CNN about a client with an allegation of sexual harassment against the younger Cuomo, according to the New York Times. 

The allegation is ‘unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter,’ Katz said in a statement.

Chris Cuomo’s spokesman has insisted: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’

On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released texts between Cuomo and his brother's staff, showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations

 On Monday, New York Attorney General Letitia James released texts between Cuomo and his brother’s staff, showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August after the state Attorney General released a report detailing sexual harassment allegations from 11 different women

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August after the state Attorney General released a report detailing sexual harassment allegations from 11 different women

But the former CNN star also previously was accused of sexually harassing his former female superior at ABC back in 2005. 

In an op-ed for the Times in September, producer Shelley Ross wrote that Cuomo walked up to her, hugged her and firmly grasped her buttocks as her husband sat behind her.

‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said, according to Ross.

Karen Agnifilo, a lawyer and former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, told Fox News that Cuomo is likely to use the same defense as his brother.

‘I think [Gov. Cuomo’s] brother should do the Cuomo playbook: “We hugged, we kissed, we’re affectionate. It’s how we were raised,'” Agnifilo said, adding that any case would have to proceed in public court.

‘CNN will have to turn over things like emails and employee files and other discovery-related documents. And then people will have to sit for depositions and interrogatories, and depending on what comes out in all that will depend on whether they had knowledge or didn’t have knowledge,’ she said. 

‘All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out.’  

But California attorney Benjamin Eghbali previously told Fox News that Cuomo will be held to a standard similar to that of disgraced Miramax founder, Harvey Weinstein, if people decide to sue CNN alleging a cover-up.

‘They’re going to try to push the blame completely on Chris Cuomo, and say they had no knowledge,’ Eghbali said of CNN.

‘So, the plaintiff’s job is going to be to show that there was some sort of knowledge on CNN’s side and they looked the other way … If they cannot prove that burden, then they will not be able to hold CNN responsible.’  

CNN’s statement cited only Cuomo’s ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’ in its decision to terminate the anchor.

A spokesman for Cuomo told the Wall Street Journal Sunday: ‘Mr. Cuomo has the highest level of admiration and respect for Mr. Zucker.

‘They were widely known to be extremely close and in regular contact, including about the details of Mr. Cuomo’s support for his brother.’

CNN disagreed with their former star’s characterization of events.

‘He has made a number of accusations that are patently false,’ the network said in a statement. ‘This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.’

Smollett told the court that Lemon texted him in February 2019 to warn him Chicago detectives did not believe him. He is pictured with Smollett in 2018. When Smollett was arrested, he described the pair as friends and said if he'd lied to him he lied to a 'lot of people'

Smollett told the court that Lemon texted him in February 2019 to warn him Chicago detectives did not believe him. He is pictured with Smollett in 2018. When Smollett was arrested, he described the pair as friends and said if he’d lied to him he lied to a ‘lot of people’  

CNN host Don Lemon ignored the fact that Jussie Smollett told his hoax trial that Lemon texted him in 2019 telling him the cops didn't believe him, and asked reporter Omar Jiminez to describe the day's events without either one of them acknowledging his role in them

CNN host Don Lemon ignored the fact that Jussie Smollett told his hoax trial that Lemon texted him in 2019 telling him the cops didn’t believe him, and asked reporter Omar Jiminez to describe the day’s events without either one of them acknowledging his role in them  

A CNN insider on Monday also called Cuomo’s claims ‘absurd’ and ‘patently untrue,’ noting: ‘If Jeff had known all along, Chris would have been fired earlier, not suspended.’   

Earlier this year, Cuomo told CNN viewers and executives that he had indeed assisted his brother’s team, but that his involvement had been minimal.

But last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James released text messages between Cuomo and his brother’s staff showing that he was deeply involved in combatting the allegations and provided help in strategy and communications.

‘Chris Cuomo was suspended earlier this week pending further evaluation of new information that came to light about his involvement with his brother’s defense,’ the network said in a statement.

The announcement further revealed that an outside law firm was enlisted by the network to aid in their investigation into how exactly their star anchor aided his brother, Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, try to fight off a sexual harassment scandal this year.

‘We retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately. While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.’

Hamptons bartender suing Don Lemon for sexual assault

A bartender who claims CNN anchor Don Lemon jammed his finger in his face after rubbing his own genitals has said the news network is ‘a predator protecting machine’ that’s ‘rife with perverts.’

Dustin Hice, 41, spoke out in the wake of Chris Cuomo’s termination from the news channel after a sexual misconduct allegation was leveled at him last week, in the wake of another scandal involving his ties to his alleged sex pest brother Andrew.

Hice filed a suit against Lemon, 55, in August 2019 alleging that the CNN star assaulted him at a Hamptons bar. Lemon denies the allegations. 

‘They’re a network rife with predators and perverts,’ Hice told Fox News on Monday night.

‘Lemon will have to testify under oath in the near future, but it’s good to see that there’s finally some accountability happening.’

So far, CNN is standing by Lemon, similar to how the network backed its former anchor Chris Cuomo until revelations from the New York Attorney General’s office forced them to take action.

Dustin Hice, 41, who is suing Don Lemon over sexual assault allegations has branded CNN a 'predator protecting machine'

Dustin Hice, 41, who is suing Don Lemon over sexual assault allegations has branded CNN a ‘predator protecting machine’

Hice is suing Lemon, pictued, who claims he was assaulted by the CNN anchor in July 2018

Hice is suing Lemon, pictued, who claims he was assaulted by the CNN anchor in July 2018

‘This is who they are. They’re a predator-protecting machine, they slander and smear victims with impunity,’ Hice added.

‘They’ve tried to grind me down, they’ve attempted to intimidate witnesses in my case, they’ve released confidential information about me in attempt to doxx me. They are complicit. This is who they are,’ he added.

Hice says he wants some closure after the alleged assault in which he claims that he was with co-workers at Murf’s Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor in July 2018, when he recognized Lemon.

Hice then made what he describes as a ‘cordial gesture’ and ‘tried to get Mr. Lemon’s attention and offered to buy Mr. Lemon a drink’.

Lemon responded to Hice’s offer by declining the drink and telling the young man he was ‘just trying to have a good time.’

Things then allegedly took a bizarre turn minutes later, according to Hice, who is asking for damages.

‘Sometime later that evening, unexpectedly, Mr. Lemon walked towards Hice and his colleagues inside of Murf’s,’ states the complaint.

‘At such time, Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers into Plaintiff’s mustache under Hice’s nose.’

It then goes on to allege: ‘Mr. Lemon intensely pushed his fingers against Plaintiff’s face under Plaintiff’s nose, forcing Plaintiff’s head to thrust backward as Lemon repeatedly asked Hice “Do you like p***y or d**k?”. 

While saying this, Mr. Lemon continued to shove his fingers into Hice’s face with aggression and hostility. 

After amassing a trove of texts and documents pointing to a serious breach of network standards by the journalist, CNN notified Cuomo of his termination Saturday, the network’s statement revealed.

Cuomo acknowledged his axing the same day, expressing regret for his part of the scandal, but still asserting that he was only helping his brother, who was forced to resign in August to avoid impeachment over the allegations.

‘This is not how I want my time at CNN to end,’ the veteran TV journalist wrote in a post published to social media.

‘But I have already told you why and how I helped my brother.’  

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. 

His 9pm show was CNN’s highest rated broadcast. It drew an average of 774,000 viewers during November, when it ranked No. 25 among all cable TV news programs – right behind Anderson Cooper’s show.

However, the network saw a 19 percent bump after Cuomo was suspended Tuesday and Cooper filled in. The network has not indicated who will be his permanent replacement.

Zucker, 56, hired Cuomo from ABC News in 2013 in one of his first moves when he took over CNN, and demonstrated considerable compassion for Cuomo during the summer, when the saga unfolded.

Zucker had promoted Cuomo to prime time in 2018, letting him have the prized 9pm hour, and setting him against the influential Rachel Maddow at MSNBC and Sean Hannity at Fox News.  

In 2019, Zucker was full of praise for his star, telling The Hollywood Reporter that Cuomo was ‘the perfect cable news anchor.’

When The Washington Post reported in May that the news anchor had been advising his brother on strategy, in a breach of journalistic protocol, Zucker defended him and said that he was in a unique and very difficult position.

‘Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,’ the network said in a statement.

‘In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.

‘However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges.

‘He will not participate in such conversations going forward.’

The network said Cuomo would not be disciplined at the time.

Gov. Cuomo resigned from his job as governor in August after AG James released a report detailing sexual harassment accusations from 11 different women.

Cuomo’s departure also comes after the network’s Don Lemon was named during the Jussie Smollett trial for allegedly warning the actor in 2019 that Chicago police would not believe he was the victim of a homophobic attack. 

Lemon also went as far as to call Cuomo one of the ‘nicest people’ he’d ever met on air. 

Smollett said at trial on that Lemon warned him that Chicago PD detectives had told him they didn’t believe the story. 

Lemon didn’t mention it on his show Monday night during a minutes-long segment with reporter Omar Jiminez, who had been at the trial. 

Instead, the pair discussed the day’s events almost in their entirety without mentioning the text Smollett said Lemon sent him.     

Lemon also is being sued by a Hamptons bartender who claims he rubbed his own genitals then shoved his fingers in his face in 2018.

The bartender had told FOX News that CNN is a ‘network rife with predators and perverts.’   

On Sunday, Lemon was accused of using his position to interfere in a police investigation.

Nicholas Fondacaro, the deputy Managing Editor of the American Media Research Center, slammed both Jiminez and Lemon for ignoring his role in the day’s testimony. 

‘At 10-to-midnight, Don Lemon and Omar Jiminez finally discuss the Jussie Smollett trial. 

‘But neither “journalist” mentioned how Smollett testified under oath that Lemon tipped him off to police skepticism of his hoax claims. 

‘The whole segment lasted 5 minutes and 7 seconds.’ 

Smollett is expected to take the stand again on Tuesday morning. 

He insists that he was friends with brothers Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, the men who say he paid them to beat him up. 

His defense has suggested he had a sexual relationship with Abimbola, who also goes by Abel, and that the pair masturbated in bathhouses together.  

Smollett now believes the Osundairo brothers staged the attack because they wanted to scare him into hiring them as his security guards. 

On Tuesday, in a Hail Mary attempt to salvage the case, he testified that the pair decided to beat him up because they wanted to hire him for security. 

He maintained that he never intentionally lied to police, that everything he said was true, and that he never wanted to involve the authorities because he believes cops to be racist and bigoted.   

‘One, I am a Black man in America. I do not trust police… I am also a well known figure and I’m openly gay … I want to play a boxer, I want to play a superhero… the moment I got beat I become a f****t who got his ass whooped,’ he told the court. 

Abel and Ola have testified, along with police officers and detectives, that Smollett lied to boost his profile after producers on the set of Empire, the show he worked on, didn’t take seriously enough a threatening letter he received.  

When doubts started to be raised about Smollett’s publicly denounced hate attack in 2019, Lemon told his audience it was ‘personal’ since he and Smollett had become close. 

He said Smollett was ‘innocent until proven guilty’ but that if he had lied, he lied ‘to a lot of people, including me. 

‘And that’s not cool.’

‘He squandered the good will of very high-profile people who one day may be running this country like Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and people like President Trump.’

Lemon went on to say that Smollett had ‘lost the fight in the court of public opinion.’   

‘He lost because — not his fault. Maybe people were — I don’t know what they were saying to him, maybe because of his representatives. 

‘Who knows? But it was handled poorly,’ Lemon said in 2019. 

Chris Cuomo V CNN: Fired anchor prepares to SUE network for $18M left of his salary, claiming chief Jeff Zucker KNEW full extent of his involvement with his brother’s sex pest probe

Chris Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker, left, knew about his involvement in his brother's defense, which CNN called 'patently false'

Chris Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker, left, knew about his involvement in his brother’s defense, which CNN called ‘patently false’

Former star anchor Chris Cuomo is preparing to sue his former employer for $18 million left on his contract, claiming that CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about his involvement in his brother’s sex pest probe.

The network fired Cuomo, 51, on Saturday citing the journalist’s role in defending his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against multiple sexual harassment allegations.

Cuomo says CNN President Jeff Zucker knew about the cooperation, which the network called ‘patently false.’  

He has now hired lawyers and is preparing to file a suit against CNN if it does not honor the remainder of the four year contract he signed last year, under which he receives $6 million a year, according to the New York Post.

But unnamed sources told the Post that the network has ‘no intention of paying Cuomo a penny,’ noting that ‘if he gets a settlement, there would be an uproar.’  

Cuomo was fired from his position on Saturday after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a trove of documents revealing that he had called his ‘sources’ about planned news reports regarding his brother as he tried to dig up dirt on at least one of the former governor’s accusers.

Lawyers from the firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore reportedly told CNN officials that the documents gave the network legal grounds to fire the Cuomo Prime Time Star.

But it appears likely that accusations that he sexually harassed a former co-worker at ABC was the final straw that led to his firing – a move which would appear to slightly ease the pressure on Zucker. 

The network was set to investigate an unspecified allegation dating back to Cuomo’s time at ABC before he was fired, the Post report.

His firing came just days after prominent attorney Debra S. Katz, a prominent attorney who also represents one of Andrew Cuomo’s accusers, Charlotte Bennet,  told CNN about a client with an allegation of sexual harassment against the younger Cuomo, according to the New York Times. 

The allegation is ‘unrelated to the Gov. Andrew Cuomo matter,’ Katz said in a statement.

Chris Cuomo’s spokesman has insisted: ‘These apparently anonymous allegations are not true.’

But the former CNN star had also previously been accused of sexually harassing his female superior at ABC back in 2005.  

In an announcement released Saturday afternoon, the network revealed that more information had come to light during its internal investigation into the anchor - which is still ongoing

In an announcement released Saturday afternoon, the network revealed that more information had come to light during its internal investigation into the anchor – which is still ongoing

In an op-ed for the Times in September, producer Shelley Ross wrote that Cuomo walked up to her, hugged her and firmly grasped her buttocks as her husband sat behind her.

‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said, according to Ross.

Karen Agnifilo, a lawyer and former chief assistant district attorney in Manhattan, told Fox News that Cuomo is likely to use the same defense as his brother.

‘I think [Gov. Cuomo’s] brother should do the Cuomo playbook: “We hugged, we kissed, we’re affectionate. It’s how we were raised,'” Agnifilo said, adding that any case would have to proceed in public court.

‘CNN will have to turn over things like emails and employee files and other discovery-related documents. And then people will have to sit for depositions and interrogatories, and depending on what comes out in all that will depend on whether they had knowledge or didn’t have knowledge,’ Agnifilo said. 

‘All that stuff comes out in the course of civil litigation, or they settle and it never comes out.’

But California attorney Benjamin Eghbali previously told Fox News that Cuomo will be held to a similar standard as disgraced Miramax founder Harvey Weinstein if people decide to sue CNN alleging a cover-up.

‘They’re going to try to push the blame completely on Chris Cuomo, and say they had no knowledge,’ Eghbali said of CNN.

‘So, the plaintiff’s job is going to be to show that there was some sort of knowledge on CNN’s side and they looked the other way … If they cannot prove that burden, then they will not be able to hold CNN responsible.’

CNN’s statement cited only Cuomo’s ‘conduct with his brother’s defense’ in its decision to terminate the anchor.

A spokesman for Cuomo told the Wall Street Journal Sunday: ‘Mr. Cuomo has the highest level of admiration and respect for Mr. Zucker.

‘They were widely known to be extremely close and in regular contact, including about the details of Mr. Cuomo’s support for his brother.’

CNN disagreed with their former star’s characterization of events.

‘He has made a number of accusations that are patently false,’ the network said in a statement. ‘This reinforces why he was terminated for violating our standards and practices, as well as his lack of candor.’

A CNN insider on Monday also called Cuomo’s claims ‘absurd’ and ‘patently untrue,’ noting: ‘If Jeff had known all along, Chris would have been fired earlier, not suspended.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk