After Jeff Zucker was forced to step down from his top spot at CNN earlier this month, a question soon arose: Could Chris Cuomo have somehow been the force behind that resignation, seeking revenge for his own firing from the network in December? Whether it's a vengeance spree or not, Page Six reports Cuomo is on a quest for a hefty settlement, with sources telling the outlet he could demand as much as $60 million from his former employer. "He wants Megyn Kelly money," one source says. (In 2019, NBC agreed to pay out the rest of Kelly's $69 million contract after she and the network parted ways) The apparent driver of Cuomo's push for much more than the $18 million left on his own contract is his claim that Zucker knew Cuomo had helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fend off sexual harassment allegations.
And also that Zucker himself may have had eyebrow-raising interactions with Andrew Cuomo. "[Chris Cuomo's] camp believes Zucker wasn't fired for an inappropriate relationship ... Everybody knew about that and nobody cared," one source says of Zucker's recent confession that he'd never disclosed to the network, as required, his romantic relationship with colleague Allison Gollust. The source adds: "What [Chris Cuomo] believes happened is WarnerMedia found something in their investigation into Chris ... which revealed more about Zucker's involvement with Andrew Cuomo." Still, both Page Six and Puck News note Chris Cuomo has become the "villain" in this story, and that even his former colleagues don't seem thrilled with what's now transpiring.
The New York Times reports that, in a meeting last week with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, CNN host Jake Tapper noted it looked to outsiders that "Chris blew the place up" after not getting what he wanted. And Don Lemon, who'd been close to Cuomo during their time together on the air, addressed rumors at a Monday meeting that Cuomo might get severance. "Did you think about what message it sends to the journalists in the company and also to the larger public that someone can be found to break with those journalistic standards and then get paid handsomely for it?" Lemon asked Kilar, who wouldn't say either way if a severance package was on the table. (Meanwhile, Cuomo's brother, Andrew, is now saying he's been "vindicated" and isn't ruling out another run for office.)