News Scandals: Chris Cuomo, CNN anchor Demands $125 Million

The ousted anchor is demanding his remaining salary as well as “future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation.”


Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo is demanding $125 million from CNN following his termination from the cable news channel last year.

In a demand for arbitration filed with the dispute resolution giant JAMS, Cuomo alleges that his firing was not justified and that former CNN president Jeff Zucker failed to abide by the terms of Cuomo’s contract “by failing to instruct CNN employees not to disparage Cuomo.”

In fact, the complaint alleges that there was a “calculated campaign to smear Cuomo and destroy his reputation” by some CNN staff.

The $125 million claim, filed by Cuomo’s attorneys at Freedman + Taitelman and Clayman Rosenberg, includes $15 million that he says is owed for the remainder of his contract, but also “future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement.”


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“As a result of Turner’s indefensible choice to unceremoniously fire him, Cuomo has been damaged in countless ways. Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million,” the filing states. “Turner’s unjustifiable termination of Cuomo reflects nothing more than an apparent rush to judgment and caving to uninformed public and internal pressure that was based on speculation and assumption rather than facts and evidence.”

Cuomo was fired in December after New York Attorney General Letitia James released a deposition he gave in which he recounted the advice he gave his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who was dealing with allegations of sexual harassment.

CNN and Cuomo acknowledged that he had advised his brother last May, with the CNN anchor at the time saying he was “family first.” He added, “It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot. I never intended for that, I would never intend for that, and I’m sorry for that.”

However, his testimony before the NYAG showed a deeper involvement than was publicly known, though Cuomo says in the arbitration filing that he was “keeping CNN executives apprised of his actions at all times.”

“CNN, including Zucker and [CMO Allison] Gollust, knew of Cuomo’s role as a confidant and sounding board to his brother, and the details of his interactions with Gov. Cuomo and his staff, long before the transcripts of the NYAG investigation were publicly disclosed,” the arbitration filing 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.”

Cuomo has been with CNN since 2013, first as the anchor of its morning show New Day, and then as a primetime host, where he would often have more of a “take” on the day’s news. In the early weeks and months of the novel coronavirus pandemic, he also hosted his older brother on his CNN program, with Zucker and Gollust’s blessing, despite there being a ban on such interviews since 2013.

Zucker resigned from CNN in Feb, citing an undisclosed personal relationship with Gollust, one of his direct reports, who also subsequently resigned.

Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who will gain oversight of CNN once WarnerMedia merges with Discovery in the coming weeks, has tapped Chris Licht to serve as CNN’s next CEO. MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said that “I think the biggest change you are going to see at CNN, especially in primetime, is … a lot more hard news and a lot less opinion.”

A spokesperson for CNN declined to comment.