In a demand for arbitration targeting CNN, former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, who had a history of blowing kisses toward fellow CNN anchor Don Lemon as they repeatedly told each other, “I love you, brother,” turned on Lemon as well as CNN anchor Jake Tapper, saying they had breached “traditional journalistic standards.” Cuomo also accused Tapper of falsely claiming Cuomo had “threatened” former CNN chief Jeff Zucker and Lemon had falsely claimed “that Cuomo had been ‘found to break with those journalistic standards and then [was] paid handsomely for it.’”
The demand for arbitration states:
Cuomo had no reason to believe that his assistance to Gov. Cuomo was inconsistent with CNN’s or Turner’s policies nor its expectations, especially given the fact that Zucker and Gollust had encouraged him to do so and had themselves provided advice to Gov. Cuomo. In fact, CNN fostered a culture in which the network’s standards and practices were a constantly moving target, modified at CNN executives’ discretion as they saw fit., and that culture began at the top with Zucker and Gollust.
As long as Zucker and Gollust believed CNN’s ratings would benefit, they were more than willing to disregard breaches of traditional journalistic standards by CNN personalities, such as Don Lemon and Jake Tapper, or even to engage in blatant breaches of journalistic ethics themselves. There is no better example of this than Zucker and Gollust making an exception to the CNN rule to direct Cuomo to interview his brother several times over the course of three months.
“Before Cuomo was terminated, Zucker at first claimed that he had been unaware of Cuomo’s discussions with Gov. Cuomo’s aides, when Zucker had done the same thing himself,” the demand further asserts. “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. Jake Tapper, a CNN anchor, publicly assailed Cuomo’s ethics as a journalist and falsely claimed that Cuomo “threatened” Zucker. Don Lemon, another CNN anchor, falsely claimed that Cuomo had been “found to break with those journalistic standards and then [was] paid handsomely for it.”
The Daily Wire reported in February:
CNN host Don Lemon advised against paying former host Chris Cuomo a multimillion-dollar severance package, according to multiple sources that have heard a recording of the conversation. During a video conference on Monday, Lemon warned WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar about the negative impact paying Cuomo millions of dollars in severance pay after allegations that Cuomo breached journalist ethics could create at the network, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“Did you think about what message it sends to the journalists in the company and also to the larger public that someone can be found to break with those journalistic standards and then get paid handsomely for it?” Lemon reportedly asked. “And what is to stop the next person from doing the same thing, and possibly getting compensated for it, by saying, ‘Hey I’m going to spread rumors if you don’t give me this amount of money’?”
In the good old days, CNN offered a podcast titled “The Handoff,” which boasted, “The love viewers witness between CNN’s Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo in the handoff between their shows each night is real. Now they’re stepping out from behind the anchor desk for a weekly conversation where nothing is off limits. With no broadcast clock to hold them back, Chris and Don talk politics and get personal.” The last podcast in the series was released in late November 2021, the month before Cuomo was fired.
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