For years, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon were in love. Their CNN shows were paired together, and they regularly got into goofball hysterics when one was passing the torch to the other. They even hosted a podcast together called The Handoff, took Instagram-heavy vacations to the Hamptons, and often referred to each other as “brother.” When Cuomo came under investigation late last year over how he handled his own real brother’s controversies, Lemon was there for him. But it appears the bromance is over.
As first reported by Deadline, Cuomo — who was fired in December of 2021 after an internal review as well as allegations of abuse that emerged while it was underway — launched the opening shot in what may be a protracted legal battle. In a scorched earth arbitration filing, the former host demanded $125 million in damages. In the filing, he threw a number of former colleagues under the bus. One of them was Don Lemon.
The legal document claims Cuomo was not only “unceremoniously fired,” but that his “journalistic integrity” had been “unjustifiably smeared.” The termination, it claims, makes it “difficult if not impossible for Cuomo to find similar work.” The $125 million he’s demanding includes both the remaining salary from his contract as well as “future wages lost as a result of CNN’s efforts to destroy his reputation in violation of the Agreement.”
To bolster Cuomo’s case, the filing claims CNN brass failed to punish other employees as they had him. As caught by The Daily Beast, among those singled out are Jake Tapper, Jeffrey Toobin, and Lemon. About the latter:
Cuomo specifically cited how, in November 2021, Empire actor Jussie Smollett testified that Lemon personally warned him that Chicago police didn’t believe his false accusations of a hate crime. Lemon’s consulting with the embattled actor constituted a “flagrant breach of journalistic ethics,” Cuomo’s team wrote.
“Intervening in the ongoing investigation by texting Smollett was an inexcusable breach of ethics,” the filing argued. “Yet CNN did nothing; Lemon was not disciplined in any way.”
But perhaps Cuomo was only responding in kind to Lemon. As The Daily Beast notes, last month during a staff meeting, Lemon argued that Cuomo should not receive severance after his termination:
“Did you think about what message it sends to the journalists in this company and to the larger public, that someone can be found to break with those journalistic standards and then get paid handsomely for it?” Lemon grilled WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar during the New York chat, Insider reported. “And what is to stop the next person from possibly getting compensated for it, to spread rumors, or what have you to the press?”
In late November of 2021, it was reported that Cuomo was a lot more involved in the scandals surrounding his brother, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo, who had been accused by multiple women of harassment. It was alleged Chris even tried to dig up dirt on one of his brother’s accusers. After Chris was himself accused of harassment — by an accuser he tried to quiet, it was later alleged — CNN fired him. The termination left him “livid” but he’s mostly kept quiet until now, around the same time his brother has been trying to mount a comeback.
In the meantime, please remember the good times by watching this supercut of Lemon and Cuomo, back when they were besties.