Chris Cuomo Admits Sexually Harassing His Former Boss

24 Sep 2021

CLAY: Well, Andrew Cuomo lost his job for sexual harassment, and today there is a New York Times guest essay that is headlined: “Chris Cuomo…” That, of course, is Chris Cuomo of CNN. “Chris Cuomo Sexually Harassed Me. I hope He’ll Use His Power to Make Change.” The woman who is writing this is Shelley Ross. She was a television journalist and former executive producer at ABC and CBS.

Her article here, her essay begins, “I was Chris Cuomo’s boss at ABC News nearly two decades ago,” and she says that she was sexually harassed. She’s writing this in the context of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s incident. She says that she was harassed by Chris Cuomo back in 2005, and here are the details, Buck. I’m curious. Is this or should this be a significant punishment, maybe even a lost job?

She says she doesn’t want him to lose his job. She says that she doesn’t believe when he claims that he profoundly is concerned about sexual harassment based on his own behavior. So she publishes this email, which is kind of strange, I think, that she saved the email. But this is from June 1st of 2005. What happened…

I’ll read you the email in a sec, but what happened was he showed up, according to her… He showed up at a party. She was an executive producer of an ABC entertainment special. And before that, she had been the executive producer of Cuomo’s show. And she says she “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…”

Again, this is Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor. “When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked towards me, greeted me with a strong bear hug, while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my butt. Then he said, ‘I can do this now that you’re no longer my boss.'” She says he said it “with a cocky arrogance.”

She said, “No, you can’t,” and then she stepped back to show that her husband had seen the entire thing. She says they quickly left, and then he sent an email, saying, “Now that I think of it, I’m ashamed, though my hearty greeting was a function of being glad to see you,” which sounds a bit like what Andrew Cuomo has said before.

“Christian Slater got arrested for a kind of similar act, 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.”

BUCK: Okay. Okay. Oookay.

CLAY: That’s the context, Buck. For people out there who may not have heard it, I wanted to lay it out.

BUCK: So there’s a few things, a few things that come to mind here right away, Clay. I know we’re both gonna have some thoughts on this. First of all, once again, the guys who are the ones always running around pretending to be “male feminists” and huge advocates of the #MeToo movement publicly speaking? Guys who treat women with respect don’t have to walk around talk about it and —

CLAY: Bragging about how much.

BUCK: — how he respects women, you know? It’s just… You either do or you don’t in the workplace, and the guys who… I would note, even in New York, obviously, Andrew Cuomo resigned, the attorney general for the state of New York, if memory serves, was Schneiderman. He also had a #MeToo incident where he was abusive and horrible to a girlfriend. And that came out. I don’t know if you remember this from a few years back in New York.

CLAY: And you believe so Eliot Spitzer. There’s been a lot of dudes in power in New York.

BUCK: But Schneiderman specifically was almost like Justin Trudeau level, “I am a male feminist and I’m going to stand up for women in the #MeToo era.” Total scum this guy, right? So people that make a big deal of it you always should think, “Hmm, I don’t think you should have to say you respect women.” The part of this that was…

I just saw headline and I remember you told me the story, the details. The part of this that’s the most troubling — and there’s a few — is first of all, you don’t walk up and squeeze somebody’s butt because you’re excited to see them, you know what I mean? This is not something that happens. People make jokes that might be a little appropriate, sometimes people say something they think could be taken two ways.

Squeezing the butt is not a thing that just happens — and beyond that, doing it in front of a married woman’s husband? This is the kind of thing where if he took a swing at him and there was a tooth on the ground afterwards and I was on the jury, I’d be like, “Can’t squeeze a guy’s lady’s butt. Sorry.”

CLAY: First of all, the fact that she remembers that he’s drinking a Diet Coke. She’s so enfeebled this husband of hers, right? (summarized) “My husband was sitting behind me drinking a Diet Coke, and then this man walks in and grabs my butt, and we were so upset we just left, and he didn’t say anything”? I’m just trying to put myself in that situation. If somebody walked up and grabbed my wife in a bear hug and grabbed her ass in front of me, at an absolute bare minimum, you would confront the guy and be saying, “Hey…”

BUCK: Let’s also just tell everybody, Mrs. Travis would throw a roundhouse herself.

CLAY: Oh, yes. Yes. She would not stand for it. Maybe my answer would be I would just let her like tee off on the idea. I’m actually kind of curious what women would think of this scenario. I think there are several things that are strange here. One, again, the fact that he did this. Two, the fact that she saved his email from 16 years ago.

BUCK: What do you make of that? By the way, if she accepted his apology then, why bring it up now?

CLAY: Yeah. To me, there’s a statute of limitations. It’s a little bit like you’re saving it in case you need something later. Right?

BUCK: Yes.

CLAY: And so it’s like Monica Lewinsky with the blue dress.

BUCK: That was a shorter time. (laughs) That was pretty quick.

CLAY: Understood. But you talk to most women and they’re like, “Oh, she saved the dress with the stain on it?” That’s a super-weird thing to do. That’s always been to me the strangest thing about the entire Monica story, because she was saving that for a reason, maybe because she wanted to be able to use it against Bill Clinton in the future to have proof of it. All of that. But the fact that you would save an email 16 years old and then go public in the New York Times?

BUCK: And this whole thing she doesn’t want him to get fired? I can I understand she’s gonna say so she doesn’t seem vindictive 15 years later. But look, he shouldn’t have done it. Bad thing to do. He did apologize. His apology could have been a little… “I’m happy to see you…”

CLAY: Also, maybe don’t write the apology in an email?

BUCK: Well, I think people have become — just in general — much more cognizant of everything they sent electronically now. I feel like in the early 2000s it was, “Eh, ou send an email, it goes through the inner webs and maybe…”

CLAY: Yeah, 2005 maybe he wasn’t thinking that she was gonna save it. But to send an email admitting that you did it? Because otherwise it’s just a he said, she said; 16 years ago, I didn’t do this.

BUCK: This is confirmed because, by the way, if someone says they have an email from you that they didn’t the easiest thing in the world would be say that’s a fake email. Clearly —

CLAY: I don’t think he’s commented on this yet, has he?

BUCK: No. The facts are not in dispute. It’s gonna be interesting to see how this is handled. I have a sense that first we have to remember, he already had to go out there, Chris Cuomo, and do the whole apology over coordinating with his brother while a journalist while interviewing his brother as a host on CNN for the help with him on the PR side.

And I will say, I would do anything for my brother, so I actually didn’t blame him for that at all. But it just goes to show you CNN is a joke. But this issue… CNN is essentially a kingdom ruled by Jeff Zucker. Whatever he decides is what will happen there. That’s the way it goes.

CLAY: Buck, CNN banned me for saying that I believed “in the First Amendment and boobs.” They wouldn’t allow me to appear on their network ’cause they said it was disrespectful.

BUCK: You got a lifetime ban from CNN. That’s like a friend of mine who had a lifetime ban from going back to Iran after he wrote about it. That’s amazing, by the way.

CLAY: Yeah, but so, if your standard is a guy can’t come on to your network and give his opinion in kind of a lighthearted, jocular way, then I don’t know how… Let me say this. I am fundamentally opposed to cancel culture. I hate the idea that you can have done something 16 years ago; that somebody can save it, and decide to deploy it against you nearly a generation later, and say you don’t deserve to have your job.

BUCK: And, by the way, pretending that it’s not being… Let’s actually unpack this part of it a little bit. She wants him to use his platform for change? Come on. What does that even mean?

CLAY: I agree.

BUCK: That to me seems a little self-indulgent here. It’s like if you wanted there to be consequences, you had a long time to bring this up and deal with it, and I agree with you. At what point are we willing to say, “There has to be…” Even if the other side will not forgive anything on our side… I know that happens never, but at some point, we have to start saying to everybody, “If you’re gonna find something that was texted or written 20 years ago by someone and say that now they should get fired, it better be really bad.”


BUCK: Lillian in Wisconsin. A mom of three. What’s up, Lillian?

CALLER: Actually, I’m a mom of four but I have three sons, and, yeah, this does bother me because for someone to go back like they did with Justice Kavanaugh and bring up stuff that you could have dealt with at the time, it’s just not right and it concerns me for my own sons. So —

CLAY: As a woman saving it for 16 years and then deploying it now? I see your argument. My wife and I have these conversations, too, ’cause when the Kavanaugh hearings were going on, I was saying, “Okay you can have your opinion as a woman which is interesting, but also you’ve got three sons. How would you want them to be treated if they did something when they were teenagers?”

BUCK: This is also what you see — and thank you so much, Lillian — Clay, this is what you see with moms who have college-age sons who feel very, very differently than what we are led believe women generally think in this country about these campus tribunals.

CLAY: Oh, it’s crazy. You can’t even cross-examine —

BUCK: Both people were drunk and the girl the next day is saying, “Oh, I had such a great time last night,” and then a month later… These kind of cases —

CLAY: Happens all the time.

BUCK: My college Amherst, by the way, has been in the headlines for a number of really egregious, Title IX tribunals.

CLAY: We’re not talking about criminal investigations. We’re talking about on-campus investigations which are kangaroo courts and a lot of moms have gotten fed up about this because, again, everybody’s been in college, alcohol’s involved. The day after, everybody’s fine and then, like you said, couple of days, weeks, months later somebody decides, “Hey, actually I was assaulted,” and then the kid gets kicked out. The man, the boy gets kicked out of school.

BUCK: Let me ask you this: If you’re Jeff Zucker, which that’s an interesting thing just to begin with. If you’re Zucker over at CNN, do you take any action against Cuomo over this? I’ll tell you… Well, you go first.

CLAY: (big sigh) The problem with taking action, from my perspective, if you’re an executive, is you set the precedent, if anybody that has ever been employed by you has done anything over the last 16 years — and let me say this. They let, they let what’s his name come back after he got caught!

BUCK: Oh, yeah, Toobin.

CLAY: Toobin masturbated on a Zoom call with his New Yorker colleagues, and CNN let him back! So if I’m Chris Cuomo, I’m like, “Wait, you let the guy who masturbated in front of his female coworkers continue to be a legal expert at CNN but you are firing me for something that happened 16 years ago?”

BUCK: He’s definitely not gonna get fired. I’ll just say, “Look, ’cause I’m not a leftist, I just don’t want to go around destroying people’s lives all the time because I get some kind of glee ’cause I’m a miserable person as unfortunately so many people on the left actually are,” which is a whole other conversation. I don’t think that this guy… She says he shouldn’t be fired. I say he shouldn’t be fired, and let’s get real here, folks. But it does go to a mentality here and, you know, there’s some interesting conversational pieces of this.

CLAY: I think it makes her husband look like a total wuss. That’s the person who I think emerges here, looking the — like your wife right in front of you, a guy walked up and grabbed her ass, and you were like, oh, we better leave this party now, like, that’s your reaction?

BUCK: Yeah. Not good. Not helping him out. That’s for sure. Natalie in Scottsdale, Arizona,’s got some thoughts on this one. Hey, Natalie.

CALLER: I can’t stand Chris Cuomo. I’ll just say it that way but when something happens and then you bring up 15, 20 years down the road, if it affected you that badly, why are you waiting that long? That’s ridiculous. As a mother, I have three sons. As a mother, it is very concerning because when you’re young you’re a teenager, yeah, you might say or do something stupid, especially when drinking is involved, all that kind of stuff.

But something 15, 20 years down the road? Clearly did not affect you that deeply. That’s ridiculous. And I’ll tell you, if I was in that woman’s shoes and Chris Cuomo had grabbed me like that, he wouldn’t have been eating very long. He would have been… (giggles) He would have had his jaw wired shut for six months.

BUCK: Whoa, Natalie, Natalie’s got a right hinge apparently too.

CLAY: I think a woman that would have physically reacted. Again, we don’t know what their relationship is, but the thing that’s the weirdest about this to me is saving it for 16 years and then deploying it on editorial page of the New York Times.

BUCK: You don’t want there to be real… At a minimum there’s reputational embarrassment here.

CLAY: And you saved the email like you were planning to be able to deploy this at some point in time in blackmail.

BUCK: And give me back with the sanctimony here. “He should use his platform for change.” Yeah, I’m sure. Everyone’s gonna turn to Chris — everybody’s gonna turn to Bro Cuomo when he’s not, like, taking Matrix shakes or whatever.

CLAY: When he’s working on his lats.

BUCK: When he’s not getting his macros in before he goes out there to throw the kettle bells around or whatever, which, by the way, that’s all great, and I should do more of it. But this guy puts a lot of the videos of himself doing these things out there. I don’t know if you’re aware of this. I don’t think he’s the guy to go to for necessarily the H.R. woke compliance actions in the workplace.

CLAY: I wish I was super ripped, but I think it would be weird if I were super ripped. After three or four, what are you so ripped for?

BUCK: When I was in Iraq, I’ll never forget this Navy SEAL. One of the older Navy SEALs told me once, “Look, if you’re over 40 and you have a six-pack, I don’t know if I trust you.” (laughing)

CLAY: It’s a great line.

BUCK: I was kind of like that’s interesting. “Yeah, I don’t know if I trust you.”

CLAY: Who are you staying so ripped for?

BUCK: Now we’re gonna hear from all the 60 years olds who listen to this show who have 8 packs for abs.

CLAY: Well, they claim to have 8 packs. If there’s any 65-year-olds with 8 packs, good for you.


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