Investigators condemned close confidantes of Governor Andrew Cuomo, including CNN host Chris Cuomo, in a 168-page report that detailed stunning evidence of a pattern of sexual harassment by the governor as helping to create an environment of sexual harassment to “flourish and persist.”
Stopping short of using the word cover-up, the investigators said that the confidantes acted to protect the governor’s personal interest, over the interests of those who were harassed and the interests of the state of New York.
“We also find it revealing and consistent with the Executive Chamber’s overall approach that, when faced with allegations of sexual harassment brought against the Governor,” said the official report, “the inner circle of confidantes brought in to control and direct the response included a number of individuals with no official role in the Executive Chamber.”
The report included the names of those kitchen cabinet members as Ms. Lacewell, Mr. Cohen, Ms. Smith, Mr. Bamberger, Mr. Vlasto, Ms. Lever, Mr. Pollock, Mr. David, and Chris Cuomo.
Because the confidantes had no role in the government, they were allowed more latitude in helping guide the crisis, relying on personal loyalty to the governor rather than the public good in controlling the governor’s office.
“A result of this dynamic is that State employees who are not part of this inner circle of loyalists would rightfully believe—and did believe—that any complaint or allegation about the Governor would be handled by people whose overriding interest is in protecting the Governor, over the interests of any potential complainant, any witness with relevant information that might be damaging to the Governor, or any supervisor whose obligation it was to report allegations of misconduct by the Governor,” said the report.
The report specifically condemned the use of confidantes as contributing to an atmosphere that allowed sexual harassment to “flourish and persist,” and helped create a culture of fear in the governor’s office. The report painted a picture of a governor’s office that used “fear, intimidation and retribution” to control the staff and others, including victims of sexual harassment.
“[T]he reliance on loyal confidantes regardless of their official role in State government (or lack thereof)—contributed to creating an environment where the Governor’s sexually harassing conduct was allowed to flourish and persist. It also interfered with the Executive Chamber’s ability—and responsibility—to respond to allegations of sexual harassment in a proper way by taking them seriously,” the section concluded.
It was known that Andrew Cuomo relied on his brother for guidance during this scandal. And it’s reasonable to expect someone to turn to their family during times of crisis. But what is unreasonable and unacceptable is that a primetime CNN host helped protect an environment where sexual harassment could “flourish and persist.” It is not enough for CNN to block Chris from covering news stories about his brother. Viewers deserve to know what the network thinks of Chris Cuomo’s actions.