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Brian Stelter Defends CNN's Chris Cuomo in Testy Colbert Interview

  • Brian Stelter spent Tuesday night stumping for fellow CNN colleague Chris Cuomo in a tense interview with Stephen Colbert. Stelter, a CNN media reporter, appeared on The Late Show just a few hours after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation, and he was quickly met with a barrage of questions about the network's conflict of interest scandal involving the Cuomo brothers, a criticism he repeatedly denied, much to the audience's displeasure.

    Last night, Colbert ditched the pleasantries and instead opted for a series of hard-hitting questions about a recent New York Times report claiming that Chris Cuomo advised his brother to resign as governor of New York amid his sexual harassment scandal. “Has that created any conflict over at CNN? Behind closed doors, are people mad at him?” asked The Late Show host. “Is he in trouble?”

    “Some people are mad at him,” replied Stelter, before confirming the Times’ reporting. “I also have a source who says that Chris was on the phone with his brother this week.”

    “Is your source Chris Cuomo?” asked Colbert with a laugh. “He is not,” said Stelter. “You’ve got to have boundaries. You’ve got to draw a line.”

    “Why? He doesn’t,” the host fired back, as his audience oooooh-ed.

    Stelter insisted that “Chris does” have boundaries, and he launched into a party-line defense of Cuomo and their network. “They said, ‘What you did was inappropriate,’” he said. “But they [also] said, ‘Of course you’re going to talk to your brother.’” Stelter added that Cuomo’s decision not to talk about his brother’s harassment scandal was “also a management ruling,” an argument that Colbert couldn’t quite get behind.

    “Then why didn’t they rule that way when his brother was on pretty much every night during the COVID crisis?” asked the host. “That seems like an odd conflict of rules.”

    “Yeah, I think it’s really complicated,” replied Stelter. “It is an odd conflict, but I don’t think if we open up the journalism ethics book — there’s no page for this. It’s the craziest set of circumstances you can imagine, right? A governor and a brother both in these high-profile jobs. But this was definitely awkward for CNN, though.”

    The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 PM ET on CBS.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Brian Stelter, CNN, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Chris Cuomo, Stephen Colbert