CNN made an “indefensible choice to unceremoniously” fire its top anchor, Chris Cuomo, that triggered damages in countless ways, a demand for arbitration filed on Wednesday claimed.
The embattled television news network faces having to pay Cuomo, the brother of former New York love-gov Andrew Cuomo, at least a whopping $125 million.
“Cuomo has had his journalistic integrity unjustifiably smeared, making it difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work in the future and damaging him in amounts exceeding $125 million, which includes not only the remaining salary owed under the Agreement, but future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement,” a filing by two law firms representing Cuomo said.
Those firms are Freedman + Taitelman LLP and Clayman Rosenberg Kirshner & Linder LLP.
Radar has learned giant slayer Bryan Freedman is Cuomo’s top advisor; he is the same man who secured a massive windfall for ousted NBC News star Megyn Kelly.
“It should by now be obvious that Chris Cuomo did not lie to CNN about helping his brother,” Bryan Freedman told Deadline, who first reported the news.
“In fact, as the limited information released from WarnerMedia’s investigation makes clear, CNN’s highest-level executives not only knew about Chris’s involvement in helping his brother but also actively assisted the Governor, both through Chris and directly themselves.
“As CNN has admitted, network standards were changed in a calculated decision to boost ratings. When those practices were called into question, Chris was made the scapegoat.
“The legal action filed today makes clear that CNN wrongfully terminated Chris and further violated the express terms of his employment agreement by allowing its employees to disparage him. Chris is owed a full apology from those responsible.”
As Radar previously reported, the real reason CNN believed it had to fire Cuomo, star of Cuomo Primetime, was not because he helped his brother,Andrew Cuomo, navigate his sexual harassment scandal that ultimately cost the politician his post — but under the cover of a decades-old sexual harassment claim.
According to an unknown woman, she was working as a temporary employee for ABC News in 2011, hoping to secure a permanent role.
She claimed Cuomo invited her to his office to discuss her career over lunch, but when she arrived, she says there was no food.
Cuomo then allegedly started “badgering” her for sex, and when she refused his advances, she claims he sexually assaulted her. No other details about the alleged assault were provided.
Later in the day, the woman said she tried to smooth things over by sending him friendly emails.
This led to Cuomo’s termination at CNN.
Then in January, in a worldwide exclusive, Radar published an exposé citing a clandestine relationship between then-CNN President Jeff Zucker and then-CNN Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Allison Gollust. The former resigned or was fired earlier this month, depending on who you believe — and the latter stepped down.
In addition to the secret love affair that was not properly disclosed to the company, Gollust also once served as Andrew’s communications director, which muddied her and Zucker’s ability to take swift and appropriate action with regard to Chris.
That $125 million that Cuomo is demanding breaks down into “consequential damages” of no less than $110 million out of the alleged “Turner and CNN’s breach of the express terms of the Agreement.”
The additional $15 million is essentially what Cuomo and his attorneys said remained due to him under his current contract when he was terminated “effective immediately”on December 4.