CNN viewers might be wondering if Cuomo Prime Time is canceled now that former TV news producer Shelley Ross has accused the show’s namesake anchor of sexual harassment.
As of the time of this writing, however, CNN hasn’t announced canceling Cuomo Prime Time. The schedule still has the show airing episodes next week. However, Ross’s accusations are more negative press for Chris Cuomo, who already caught flak for his brother’s sexual harassment scandal earlier this year.
Ross alleged that Cuomo sexually harassed her at a party in 2005.
In a new guest essay for The New York Times, Ross claimed that Cuomo sexually harassed her at a 2005 going-away party for an ABC colleague in New York City. Previously, she had been his boss as an executive producer of ABC's Primetime Live.
“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” Ross wrote. “‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss,’ he said to me with a kind of cocky arrogance. ‘No you can’t,’ I said, pushing him off me at the chest while stepping back, revealing my husband, who had seen the entire episode at close range. We quickly left.”
Cuomo later sent her an email, saying he was “ashamed” but that his “hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see [Ross],” according to a copy of the email Shelley shared with the Times. He also apologized to her “very good and noble” husband first, then apologized to her for putting her in “such a position,” her copy shows.
In the essay, Ross wrote, “I never thought that Mr. Cuomo’s behavior was sexual in nature. Whether he understood it at the time or not, his form of sexual harassment was a hostile act meant to diminish and belittle his female former boss in front of the staff.”
Cuomo responded to the story in a statement to the Times on Sept. 23 and said, “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”
CNN said in May that Cuomo had “inappropriate” conversations with his brother and his brother’s staff.
According to Variety, Cuomo Prime Time, which has been airing regularly since 2018, is CNN's top-rated program. However, the show became mired in controversy in May, when The Washington Post reported that Cuomo had participated in strategy calls with his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was facing sexual harassment allegations at the time. (The former governor resigned last month.)
CNN didn’t discipline Cuomo over the calls, Variety reports, but the cable network did say that it was “inappropriate” for him to strategize with his brother’s staff. “Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Gov. Cuomo—on-air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother,” CNN said in a statement to the Post at the time.
The network also said, “However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”