Guess who’s back already.
Less than a year after getting fired by CNN, Chris Cuomo will return to primetime cable news. The former CNN anchor will join NewsNation as a primetime anchor, multiple sources familiar with the matter confirmed to The Daily Beast, giving the self-described “free agent” a new platform to “get after it” and handing the fledgling network a big name to potentially boost its floundering ratings.
The news was confirmed with an on-air announcement during Cuomo’s Tuesday evening sit-down with his friend and former ABC News colleague, NewsNation host Dan Abrams. Their chat marked the disgraced former media heavyweight’s first TV appearance since his dismissal from CNN in December.
“I think we need insurgent media,” Cuomo said while announcing his new role. “I’m going to go where the news is and I’m going to try very hard to be fair, and I want to do it here. I want to make a difference, and I’m really hoping that it makes a difference for you. And I thank NewsNation very much for the opportunity.”
A potential deal in the works between Cuomo and NewsNation was reported earlier this month by OutKick. Citing anonymous sources, the conservative sports site reported that NewsNation President Michael Corn was leading the effort to bring Cuomo aboard despite the ex-CNN host’s ongoing lawsuit with his former employer. Cuomo was fired after a report revealed that he leaned on his media pals to dig up dirt on the women who accused his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of sexual harassment.
Corn was appointed to the top job at NewsNation in May 2021. During his tenure as ABC’s Good Morning America, he was accused of sexual assault and fostering a toxic work environment by two former female staffers. The lawsuit was dismissed by a New York judge last month, just over a year after his appointment to NewsNation.
Cuomo, meanwhile, kicked off his media comeback late last month, revealing in an Instagram post in late June that he had traveled to Ukraine to report from the eastern front of the ongoing Russian invasion. “In Ukraine. We can not forget,” he wrote, hashtagging his post “#letsgetafterit.” Several more posts made from the Ukraine border were to follow, but he soon returned stateside.
From the Hamptons, Cuomo then teased a rebranding as a “free agent,” hawking stark black-and-white merch to that effect and posting photos of himself smoking a cigar or flexing his muscles. On July 8, Cuomo took to Instagram to tease: “Something’s coming… Summer ‘22.”
While juggling his ongoing $125 million lawsuit against CNN, Cuomo also sought to become a volunteer position with the East Hampton Fire Department. The Daily Beast’s Confider newsletter reported last week, however, that the exiled anchor’s application was pulled after he was informed of the required time commitment.
From there, Cuomo jumped to unveiling The Chris Cuomo Project, a semiweekly podcast that launched last week. In his first episode, Cuomo attempted to make nice to his former employer—$125 million lawsuit notwithstanding—and insist that he’s now a more “real” and “authentic” Cuomo.
“These words are only my own,” he professed. “They have not been massaged to stay on message; no one is telling me to stay on a story even if I think it’s been running to the ground. Nobody’s going to encourage the stoking of flames that I believe should be smothered. I’m done with that game, and it is a game.”
Cuomo could be viewed as NewsNation’s latest attempt to boost its poor ratings, with the network’s primetime shows often bringing in an average of less than 10,000 viewers in the key advertising demographic of viewers ages 25 to 54. (By comparison, Cuomo’s former employer often brings in six figures worth of demo viewers during primetime.) Cuomo consistently ranked as CNN’s top star even as he trailed competitors like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
Elsewhere in the Tuesday evening NewsNation chat, Cuomo repeatedly defended the actions that led to his CNN firing, telling Abrams that his phone calls to fellow journalists were innocuous.
“The truth is in the language,” he declared. “I could have contacted anybody who was working in the media, got a lot of relationships. And I probably could have justified it by just saying ‘I just want to make sure that you straight on the facts. I don’t want to influence you.’ I never did that. And I think it’s a distinction with a difference and it’s something that we’ll figure out in the litigation.”
Cuomo also finally spoke about his former colleagues like Jake Tapper and Don Lemon (once his best friend), who both reportedly criticized his misconduct in CNN meetings following his ouster and both of whom were trashed by Cuomo in his scathing lawsuit. “I cannot blame people for acting on what they’re told to do,” he said. “Should they have called me? Of course, but I understand the circumstances also. And I understand why they may not have felt that that’s an option. But these are good people. They take the job seriously. I’m not going to judge them for what they say about me based on what they knew and didn’t know. I wish them well, and that is the truth.”
He also outright dismissed a sexual-assault allegation against him published in The New York Times. “None of this happened,” he told Abrams. “I am concerned about giving attention to stories. I am concerned about distracting from what’s supposed to matter to people.”
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