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Gov. Cuomo may be exiting, but ethical concerns still swirl around Chris Cuomo, CNN

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s resignation this week upended the political career of a Democratic scion who once towered over the state. But the scrutiny on his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, continues to rivet people in the overlapping worlds of media and politics, raising questions about ethical considerations inside the cable network and the public reputation of one of the key brands in American television.

Chris Cuomo, the host of CNN’s 9 p.m. show “Cuomo Prime Time,” came under a microscope last week after New York Attorney General Letitia James issued a scathing report on sexual misconduct allegations against the governor. Andrew Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing.

The report detailed how the broadcaster was involved in managing the response to the scandal — a dynamic that media experts suggest was a journalistic conflict of interest that many in the profession would consider inappropriate.

Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s media columnist, wrote this week that Chris Cuomo’s role as an informal adviser to his powerful brother was “deplorable.”

“He has put brotherly love ahead of journalistic propriety,” she wrote in a column published Monday, a day before Andrew Cuomo announced he would step down. “[T]he network’s leadership has let him get away with it.”

Chris Cuomo was part of the governor’s inner circle while, in late February, he helped devise media talking points and strategies Andrew Cuomo could use to respond to the multiple accusations of sexual harassment, according to emails and text messages made public last Tuesday by investigators for James.

Erik Wemple, the Post’s media critic, lambasted Chris Cuomo’s “line-crossing behavior” in a column, also published Monday, headlined “CNN must investigate Chris Cuomo.”

When reached for comment, CNN spokesman Matt Dornic pointed NBC News to one of its previous statements.

“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” the company has said. “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. 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.”

The spotlight on Chris Cuomo comes at a potential moment of transition for CNN and other major cable news outlets, including MSNBC, which is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News. CNN, which celebrated its 40th anniversary last year, aggressively raised its profile over the last five years with wall-to-wall coverage of the Trump administration, the 2020 presidential election and the coronavirus pandemic.

CNN has become virtually synonymous with “the mainstream media” frequently deplored by supporters of former President Donald Trump, and the company remains an outsize target for conservative critics, as well as a focal point in the debate over the role of the modern media.

The network is by no means the first news organization to draw criticism over alleged improprieties — NBC News, for its part, has found itself embroiled in various scandals in the last decade — but few have centered on a marquee TV personality who had such close ties to one of the most prominent Democratic politicians in the country.

Samuel Freedman, a professor at Columbia Journalism School who specializes in ethics, said he views Chris Cuomo’s actions as a “blatant conflict of interest.” (Freedman, a former reporter for The New York Times, disclosed that he has contributed articles to CNN’s website on a freelance basis, but he said he has no ongoing professional relationship with the network.)

He said that total candor with CNN executives is crucial. If the news anchor told his bosses he was giving advice to the governor, he said, the network should have put him on a paid leave of absence “for the duration of this issue.”

The New York Times, citing two anonymous sources, reported last Wednesday that, earlier this year, CNN executives told Chris Cuomo that if he wanted to advise his brother he could take a temporary leave from the network. The Times reported that the proposal was informal and optional — not a direct request.

Freedman said that while the scandal at the top of New York state government dominated national headlines, the network should have also considered temporarily re-assigning Chris Cuomo to a different subject — entertainment or business coverage, for example — that did not necessarily “overlap so much” with political news involving his brother.

In May, Chris Cuomo admitted that he had “inappropriate” strategy conversations with his older brother. He promised to steer clear of the network’s coverage of his brother.

Freedman said even the public perception of a conflict of interest is “corrosive to a news organization’s credibility.”

He noted that many “news organizations have survived worse scandals than this,” but he said the issue could “undermine” the network’s own reporters who have covered Andrew Cuomo.

The scrutiny on Chris Cuomo also arrives during a period of cultural upheaval at many American newsrooms and media companies as some employees — especially younger and more diverse staffers reared on the democratic energy of the internet — demand greater accountability for executives and on-air personalities who they believe escape consequences for ethical lapses or other problematic behavior in the workplace.

At the same time, media industry insiders are speculating on the future of CNN chief Jeff Zucker, a veteran media executive who, sources previously said, could take on an even larger corporate role after WarnerMedia and Discovery are formally merged. (Zucker was once the CEO of NBCUniversal.)

CNN apparently has not disciplined Chris Cuomo — a decision that one employee said she found particularly galling.

“There is no reprimanding, right? He didn’t even get the ‘slap-on-the wrist, one-week suspension’ that we see elsewhere when a journalist makes a mistake,” said the employee, a writer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The employee said she was also troubled by the network’s decision to bring back Jeffrey Toobin, the legal analyst and author who was suspended by CNN and fired by The New Yorker after he was seen exposing himself during a video conference meeting in October. (Toobin, in an on-air appearance in June, described himself as a “flawed human being who makes mistakes” and said his conduct was “deeply moronic and indefensible.”)

“I guess one way to put it is that it’s been really hard to be a woman at CNN, because you see these decisions and you’re seeing them prioritize and defend men,” the writer said, later adding: “It just seems to create that culture of: Why are you defending and protecting these people who don’t need to be defended and protected?”

Matthew Sheffield, a creator of conservative news websites who has since become a critic of that media ecosystem, said he expected that many partisan warriors aligned with Trump would probably see Chris Cuomo’s actions as yet more reason to malign a network many of them view as hypocritical “fake news.”

But he added that many of those critics could also be accused of hypocrisy given the various ethical issues — including conflicts of interest — inside right-leaning television channels and digital outlets. (Chris Cuomo’s situation has been the subject of multiple articles on Fox News’ website.)

“They do not operate in good faith,” Sheffield said. “They all do the exact same things and, in fact, much worse. Fox News has no credibility to talk about any of this stuff.”

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Pop mogul Simon Cowell was a racing flop with ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec – that didn’t win a penny

SIMON COWELL conquered the music world – but his foray into racing ended in disaster with an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse he owned with Ant and Dec.

The music mogul, 62, has done it all with bands like One Direction, Little Mix and solo acts Olly Murs and James Arthur, to name but a few.

Cowell owned an 'awful' £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec - but the runner didn't win a single penny in six races

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Cowell owned an ‘awful’ £35,000 horse with Ant and Dec – but the runner didn’t win a single penny in six racesCredit: PA:Press Association
Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

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Cowell remains a massive racing fan and loves Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby

His Syco label – plus shows such as Britain’s Got Talent – have dominated the entertainment industry and brought him an estimated net worth of £385m.

A lover of Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby, he looked perfectly poised to strike a knockout blow in the world of thoroughbreds.

But it turns out his runner was far from No1 in the charts – and never even finished better than fifth during a doomed six-race career.

Things looked promising at the start.

Named It’s A Yes From Me, the runner was trained with the respected James Fanshawe and sent off at 8-1 for his first race in June 2014.

But coming last of five by 13-and-a-half lengths was unfortunately about as good as it got for the gelding.

A month’s rest followed before he was sent off at 40-1 in a six-furlong sprint at Doncaster.

But there he could only manage fifth again, and it was same at Redcar the next month.

‘Dreadfully slow’

By October that year – with further finishes of sixth and tenth – It’s A Yes From Me came second-last in a one-mile race at Kempton.

One analysis of the race warned punters the horse was ‘one to tread carefully’ with.

Well, Cowell and Ant and Dec took that advice to heart as they never raced him again.

The horse was penniless from six races, never finishing high enough to recoup some of that £35,000 investment.

It’s doubtful Cowell, with hundreds of millions in the bank, lost any sleep over that.

But Ant and Dec revealed just how bad things has got with the horse during an interview last year.

Dec said of It’s A Yes From Me: “It was awful, it was a dreadfully slow horse.

“It wasn’t a racehorse it was just a horse, because it didn’t race.

“Every time we got to the BGT studio Simon would say, ‘I keep paying stable fees on this horse, but I’ve never seen it run’.”

Cowell originally wanted to name the nag after himself, but they settled on It’s A Yes From Me when they bought it in 2013.

‘It was awful’

Dec revealed its eventual fate: “I think it got rehomed.”

Of course it’s not all been bad for Cowell at the races.

He was one of the exclusive few at the Epsom Derby in June, having a great time with partner Lauren Silverman and Piers Morgan.

And two weeks later he was at Royal Ascot – where he first discovered his love of racing.

Cowell told SunSport’s Matt Chapman during a chat at Epsom: “I’ve got my son Eric with me today.

“My mum and dad years ago used to take me to Ascot and I was probably about his age – seven or eight.

Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this year

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Cowell with partner Lauren at Epsom earlier this yearCredit: Getty
It's A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races

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It’s A Yes From Me trails behind in last during one of his six races
The music supremo tweeted about his horse's bad start... which never got much better

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The music supremo tweeted about his horse’s bad start… which never got much better

Most read in Horse Racing

“So the fact I can now bring him to the races as well is brilliant. It brings back a lot of good memories.

“Making TV shows is my passion. But racing is actually my second passion.”

He hasn’t made that passion the money-maker his music label is, but don’t rule out Cowell staging his own comeback at the track in the near future.

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Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org

Commercial content notice: Taking one of the bookmaker offers featured in this article may result in a payment to The Sun. 18+. T&Cs apply. Begambleaware.org


Remember to gamble responsibly

A responsible gambler is someone who:

  • Establishes time and monetary limits before playing
  • Only gambles with money they can afford to lose
  • Never chases their losses
  • Doesn’t gamble if they’re upset, angry or depressed
  • Gamcare – www.gamcare.org.uk
  • Gamble Aware – www.begambleaware.org
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Minnesota wildfire doubles in size, creates its own weather

A wildfire in northeastern Minnesota more than doubled in size Tuesday, growing to more than 19,000 acres, after it produced pyrocumulous clouds that generated lightning and even raindrops, fire officials said.

The Greenwood Fire’s growth, most of which happened Monday afternoon, prompted firefighters to leave McDougal Lake, about 80 miles south-southwest of Duluth, officials said. Authorities fear that structures might have been destroyed or damaged.

“We had crews embedded, and as this fire took off, it was quite an effort to communicate with forces on the ground so they could get out,” said federal fire incident spokesman Clark McCreedy.

The pullout was a success, and no injuries were reported. However, downed trees and necessary cleanup mean crews have been unable to assess damage around the lake, McCreedy said.

In addition to the firefighter pullout, 159 dwellings were evacuated Monday, according to an update from the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Cabins, homes and recreational sites remain under threat, the group said.

Patrick Prochaska, a Minneapolis resident who built a cabin near McDougal Lake in 2012, told NBC affiliate KARE that he watched via security camera as flames mostly bypassed his property Monday, causing minor damage.

“I was feeling very scared,” he said. “At the same time, I could see that it was not doing anything to the house, and it was kind of reassuring.”

The fire in and north of Superior National Forest has mostly performed according to the weather, fire officials said. On Monday, with dry fuel on the ground and temperatures in the high 80s, it was an expanding inferno punctuated by strobes of lightning.

“The winds were drawn into the fire from all directions,” the incident’s fire behavior analyst, Michael Locke, said in a video update Tuesday. “It created what we call pyrocumulous clouds. And really high in the atmosphere … you’d see a thunderstorm, and in fact they went high enough to produce a few sprinkles of rain and even some lightning.”

Temperatures dipped into the mid-70s Tuesday, and the blaze mellowed. “The real story was cloud cover and cooler temperatures,” McCreedy said.

More of the same, and possibly rain, was in the forecast, giving officials hope that they might be able to close the book on an unusually active and dry fire season in Minnesota.

Experts have said climate change has set the stage for extreme weather, including an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere.

Firefighters — 426 were assigned to the Greenwood event — have been confronted with “prolonged, severe drought,” making parts of Minnesota look like the fire-prone West this summer, McCreedy said.

The Greenwood Fire, which was detected Aug. 15, is believed to have been sparked by lightning.

So far, firefighters have scored no containment, and areas including McDougal Lake, Sand Lake and the Highway 2 corridor have been under mandatory evacuation orders. The federal Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness was closed Saturday “due to active and increasing fire activity, extreme drought, limited resources,” the National Forest Service said in a notice.

Officials set a goal of Sept. 1 for full containment.

“We’re probably going to get more of that moderating weather for the rest of the week,” McCreedy said. “That opens the door for fire crews to make progress on the ground.”

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Hiker survives grizzly bear attack at Denali National Park

A tourist from Indiana was attacked and injured by a grizzly bear at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska on Monday night, park officials said.

The 55-year-old tourist, whose name was not released, was hiking alone in dense fog in the Thoroughfare Pass area when a mother bear and multiple cubs charged him from nearby bushes, the National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.

He had puncture wounds to a calf, his left ribs and his left shoulder, the agency said.

The victim used bear spray that might have cut the attack short, the park service indicated. He walked 1.5 miles to a visitor’s center where “medical personnel” vacationing at Denali treated him as a park bus driver called 911, it said.

The hiker was taken to a medical center near the park before he was transferred to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, about 120 miles away, park officials said. He was stabilized at the Fairbanks hospital, they said.

“Due to the apparent defensive nature of this attack, there are no plans to locate the bear involved,” the park service said. “Female bears with cubs are naturally defensive of their young, especially when surprised. There is no indication that this bear is unusually dangerous.”

Grizzly bears are federally protected as a threatened species in the lower 48 states. According to the National Wildlife Federation, fewer than 1,500 grizzlies are left in the lower 48, but they thrive, comparatively, in Alaska, where they have a population of about 31,000.

The backcountry area of the attack is closed for one week as a precaution, the park service said.

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