There is nothing, as the American Conservative’s Rod Dreher claims, “gallant” about the CNN host’s email to his former boss and former ABC and CBS News executive producer Shelley Ross.
“Chris Cuomo did a stupid, offensive thing in 2005,” Dreher said. “He grabbed his former producer’s butt. When she told him this was unwelcome, he wrote her a gallant apology. Now, all these years later, she’s in the [New York Times] trashing him. I’m no Cuomo fan, but this is unfair.”
It’s true about Ross and the New York Times, the part where she spills the details of the alleged sexual harassment incident.
Her opinion article reads as follows:
“Now that I think of it … I am ashamed,” read the subject line of a 2005 email Mr. Cuomo wrote me, one hour after he sexually harassed me at a going-away party for an ABC colleague. At the time, I was the executive producer of an ABC entertainment special, but I was Mr. Cuomo’s executive producer at “Primetime Live” just before that. I was at the party with my husband, who sat behind me on an ottoman sipping his Diet Coke as I spoke with work friends. 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.
“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.
Following the alleged encounter, Cuomo sent Ross an email, the contents of which read: “Now that I think of it … I am ashamed … though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you. … Christian Slater got arrested for a (kind of) similar act (though borne of an alleged negative intent, unlike my own) … and as a husband I can empathize with not liking to see my wife patted as such. … So pass along my apology to your very good and noble husband … and I apologize to you as well, for even putting you in such a position. Next time, I will remember the lesson, no matter how happy I am to see you.”
This is neither an apology nor is it particularly “gallant.”
For starters, the fact Cuomo “apologizes” first to Ross’s husband and second to Ross suggests that whatever incident the CNN copped to would’ve gone very differently had he not been caught in the act by a spouse. The poorly written note essentially said, “Tell your husband I’m sorry I pawed at you. Oh, also, I guess I’m sorry I pawed at you.” It’s as if to say, “Please tell the person who witnessed my bad behavior that everything is all right and that he doesn’t need to mention this incident to anyone. As for you, yeah, sorry or whatever.”
This doesn’t smack of gallantry. This smacks of someone who is merely attempting damage control after being caught.
Further, Cuomo claims in his 2005 email, “I will remember the lesson.”
Oh, is that right? What lesson would that be? Is it the lesson that told him to work quietly behind the scenes to help his older brother, disgraced former Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, plow his way through multiple allegations of sexual misconduct? Is it the lesson that told Chris Cuomo to advise his brother to discredit his accusers even after an independent state investigation concluded the former governor had, in fact, sexually harassed at least 11 women, including state employees?
In March, while fighting the allegations, Andrew Cuomo claimed he was a victim of “cancel culture.” It was a particularly stupid line, one far too stupid for the normally clever former governor. As it turns out, Chris Cuomo is the one who advised his brother to go the too-idiotic-for-words route of alleging a shadowy “cancel culture” conspiracy.
Again, what “lesson” did the CNN host learn from inappropriately touching his former boss, an act to which he himself admits? Was it “if you do it, make sure there are no witnesses?”
More seriously, based on tone and structure alone, we can say Cuomo’s email wasn’t “gallant.” And knowing what we know now about his involvement in trying to get his brother off the hook for serial sexual misconduct, we can also say it wasn’t sincere.
Indeed, it seems Chris Cuomo didn’t learn anything from the 2005 incident. It doesn’t seem like he even regrets it. It seems more he regrets getting caught. The fact his “apology” letter focuses mostly on Ross’s husband, who witnessed everything and whose presence denied Cuomo the ability to claim a he said-she said if it ever came to it, certainly seems to suggest this.