ALBANY – The fun television times are over for the Cuomo brothers.
After having months of back-and-forth banter on Chris Cuomo’s CNN show that mixed serious discussions about the COVID pandemic with jabs at who their mother loves more, the younger brother on Monday night said he is unable to discuss the governor’s political struggles.
“Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother,” Chris Cuomo said at the top of his 9 p.m. show Prime Time.
“Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”
He said he cares “profoundly” about the issues brought up by the women who have accused his brother of sexual harassment, which have upended the governor’s third term and put his political future in peril.
More:CNN reinstates ban on Chris Cuomo interviewing, doing stories on governor brother
Andrew Cuomo, 63, and Chris, 50, were a regular hit on his show: The governor would talk about New York’s response to the pandemic and rail against the Trump administration for its handling of it.
There were swipes at each other, a schtick among two brothers. Chris once showed a huge cotton swab, joking that is what is needed to get up his brother’s nose for a COVID test.
He also once joked about his older brother showing a softer side during the early months of the pandemic.
“I’ve seen you referred to a little bit recently as the ‘love gov’ and I’m wondering if that’s bleeding into your demeanor at all and making you a little soft on the president,” the CNN anchor said April 8.
The governor responded with a wide smile.
“I’ve always been a soft guy. I am the love gov. I’m a cool dude in a loose mood, you know that. I just say, ‘Let it go, just go with the flow, baby.’ You know. You can’t control anything, so don’t even try.”
With an eyeroll, Chris responded: “You have never said any of those things.”
In another, Chris thanked him for being on the show. Andrew responded: “Mom told me I had to.”
Since Chris joined the network in 2013, CNN had prevented him from doing stories about his brother to avoid a conflict.
But Andrew Cuomo would occasionally come on New Day, the CNN show that Chris initially co-hosted.
And that too was a running gag: The governor knew his brother couldn’t ask him questions due to the company policy, so Andrew would rib in, leaving Chris with little opportunity to respond.
On the primetime show, Chris Cuomo would question his brother about decisions during the pandemic, but also offered effusive praise of his brother’s handling of the pandemic when the governor was viewed as a national star for his daily briefings.
“Me having you on the show is an unusual thing. We’ve never really done it. But this was an unusual time,” Chris Cuomo said on one episode in June.
“I’m wowed by what you did. And, more importantly, I’m wowed by how you did it,”
The Democratic governor has not been on his brother’s show in months, particularly in recent months as he has faced criticism for undercounting COVID deaths in nursing homes.
In a statement last month to The Washington Post, CNN said it had the governor on the show because “the early months of the pandemic crisis were an extraordinary time,” so it made an exception to its rule.
“We felt that Chris speaking with his brother about the challenges of what millions of American families were struggling with was of significant human interest,” the statement continued.
But the station added the “rule remains in place today. CNN has covered the news surrounding Governor Cuomo extensively.”
The Post’s media columnist Erik Wemple wrote Feb.16 that the statement demonstrates the problem CNN had: “You can’t nullify a rule when your star anchor’s brother is flying high, only to invoke it during times of scandal. You just can’t.”
Joseph Spector is the Government and Politics Editor for the USA TODAY Network’s Atlantic Group, overseeing coverage in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware. He can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter: @GannettAlbany
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