Sorry, fam, count me out

Chris Cuomo has been suspended from his job at CNN as his efforts to support his brother, Andrew, with the influence of his media position, have been gradually exposed. Wait a minute, CNN didn’t think his bias was obvious from day one? And what’s with this “suspension” rather than just simply firing him?

CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo, one of its biggest stars, a day after the release of documents that detailed his efforts to help his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, fend off allegations of sexual misconduct.

Transcripts from the New York Attorney General’s office on Monday showed that the cable host was far more involved in the governor’s crisis-management efforts than the younger Cuomo had previously acknowledged.

The network and its president, Jeff Zucker, had previously backed Cuomo for months, even as details accumulated about his role advising his brother, who eventually resigned in the wake of the sexual harassment allegations.

What I’ve found more interesting than Cuomo family corruption, though, is all the people sympathizing with Chris Cuomo and saying they’d have done the same thing. It’s rather revealing.

(This tweet has since been deleted by Yglesias — I guess he noticed how bad it looked.)

Huh. I wouldn’t. Sorry, Jim and Mike, I love you like, ummm, brothers, but if you do something criminal or unethical — if you start sexually harassing young women, or robbing banks, or avoiding taxes, or telling people they should take Ivermectin for that case of COVID, or you start leaving thumbs-up on Joe Rogan videos — I’m not ever doing anything unethical to protect you. If you need money to hire a good lawyer, I’ll do what I can. I’m willing to be a character witness during the sentencing hearing. I’ll send you boxes of cookies in prison. I’ll be there for you when you get out, and help you get back on your feet and live an ethical life.

Mainly, though, I’m pretty sure you’re good people who wouldn’t do anything like that, and definitely wouldn’t expect me to do “unethical shit” to help you out. Likewise, I don’t expect you to lie about me if I were to explode in rage and punch a Republican in the nose. It’s OK, you can say I was wrong to do that.

True confession: my family has been there. We had a sweet little sister, cute as a button, a real charmer, who fell into a bad crowd, was addicted to drugs, and that addiction led to unforgivable behavior, like stealing from my parents. She spent time in jail, she ended up living on the street, and getting hooked on — yikes — evangelical Christianity (which didn’t help her at all). She eventually died of an untreated systemic infection, and we wept for her. We all loved our sister and wanted to help her, but we did not excuse her or worse, assist her in the reprehensible behavior the addiction drove her to.

That’s a difference that stays with me, that while their hearts were breaking my parents would not stoop to “unethical shit” themselves. I’m not going to, either. What’s wrong with these people who say they would?

By the way, I was shaped by growing up in a family with little interest in religion, and I think I grew a moral compass by following the examples my parents set. I sometimes wonder if my baby sister might have been saved, though, if she’d been brought up in a more rigidly authoritarian house — what was good for me might not have been good for her. Or maybe it was that her oldest brother abandoned her when he was 18 and she was 7 to flit off to college. What-might-have-been is a terrible game to play.


  1. James Fehlinger says

    We had a sweet little sister. . . who fell into a bad crowd,
    was addicted to drugs. . . She spent time in jail, she ended up
    living on the street. . . She eventually died of an untreated
    systemic infection, and we wept for her.

    That sort of tragedy is all too common, I fear. I was just talking to a friend
    who has two successful, healthy (so far), young-adult children, and who
    has a brother with one healthy successful son but a daughter
    who is a mess (who sounds to me — though I’m not a psychiatrist! —
    like she suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder). The daughter is prone
    to fits of rage and impulsive behavior, and she recently — to spite
    the family for not being invited to her brother’s wedding —
    got pregnant and had a child of her own out of wedlock. So my
    friend is (quite rightly) terrified for the welfare of his niece’s

    I am 69 years old, never-married, childless, and with no siblings.
    But whenever I hear stories like this I reflect on what a terrible
    throw-of-the-dice conceiving a child always is, and that so many
    people seem to sleep-walk their way into parenthood, and I count
    myself fortunate that it was never in the cards for me to go
    down that path.

    I keep an eye on the (controversial!) anti-natalists ever since
    I read David Benatar’s Better Never To Have Been back when
    it came out 15 years ago. There’s a very articulate and talented
    participant in this movement (his name is Matt, but I don’t
    know the last name) who has a YouTube channel containing a video
    with a sad story of a younger brother who came to a similar
    bad end:

    Death of the Family
    Aug 28, 2021
    Life Sucks

    Official Entry in the 7th Annual ForeverWolfFilms
    “Why Are You an Antinatalist?” Contest 2021.
    (The story of the brother, Brett, starts at 13:24)

    Matt, the “Life Sucks” channel owner, is interviewed
    in another YouTube video:

    The Exploring Antinatalism Podcast #38 – Life Sucks
    Premiered Jul 1, 2021
    The Exploring Antinatalism Podcast

    Today, Amanda ‘Oldphan’ Sukenick and Mark J. Maharaj (Question Mark?)
    speak with Antinatalist & Efilist Artist, YouTuber, and author of the
    recent mind-blowingly brilliant,
    The ABC’s of Antinatalism Coloring Book – The Ethics of Procreation from A to Z

    Well, Your Mileage May Vary, I guess. :-/

  2. ANB says

    Well stated. It seems much of our society has given up on living according to actual principles. “It” (whatever that is) is “okay” if it’s done for family or whatever group one identifies with.

  3. PaulBC says

    What, you don’t ask yourself “What would Walter White do?”

    Yglesias’s typically glib reply does tie into a popular perception of how real people act out of family loyalty. That’s what the TV family does: hide the hit-and-run victim or kneecap the competing cheerleader. Normal people are not as bad as TV families and are more likely to come clean and take their lumps.

    But could it be that elite families are just as unethical as TV families? I see little evidence to persuade me otherwise.

  4. Dennis K says

    I have close experience with addicts. The trope is that addiction is a disease like any other—but dammit, it’s true. People do terrible things to get a fix, they know they’re doing terrible things, and the link to suicide is generally not because of brain damage caused by the drugs. Nor is addiction a moral failing or “weakness of character”—this is convenience for the non-addicted to wash their hands of the problem.

    I don’t know the answer, but locking up addicts fixes nothing, unless of course we’re content to keep them behind bars for life.

  5. Dennis K says

    Sorry for going a bit off-topic—the story about your sister resonates with me. Drugs are an absolute curse on humanity, and damn natural selection for giving us brains so susceptible to “tweaks of chemistry.”

  6. Susan Montgomery says

    @3. You dismiss the power of culture at your own peril. Maybe you’re too hip and aloof for it, but for most people, pop culture both reflects and transmits the values of any society. Just think about the average amount of time people – especially young people and their electronic babysitters – spend absorbing all that.

  7. Susan Montgomery says

    Scoff all you like but if you compress the Ukraine impeachment hearings down to 5 minutes, it would perfectly maych the beats of the expulsion scene in Animal House – a film held sacred by Boomers and Xers.

  8. says

    Wrenching back to the original topic…

    My suspicion is that the lawyers — rightly — said “Suspend so we can investigate all of the circumstances before firing.” From a corporate standpoint, CNN doesn’t want to pay later damages to Cuomo by jumping and firing him if it turns out that:

    Some higher-up gave him tacit or even explicit approval; or

    Whatever the confidential terms of his employment contract were allowed him specifically to advise family members or preexisting clients/friends so long as it doesn’t result in on-air advocacy, and there’s then the judgment call of whether what Cuomo actually said on air is outside that exclusion; or

    There’s substantial other precedent within the organization for not firing people who engage in similar (if not necessarily as “obvious to us”) conflicts; or

    It just takes too damned long to negotiate the persnickity details and there’s a need to do something public that can be walked back and/or not used as precedent for the next time… and there will be a next time, it’s the nature of media.

    Plus there’s that “even the guilty get to present a defense, or at least an apology or other matters in mitigation” principle.

    Perhaps there are some circumstances under which immediate firing is the most appropriate reaction; shooting an interviewee on camera, for example. Given the inevitable murkiness of political reporting though, Cuomo’s apparent misconduct (and by no means am I defending him in particular or nepotism in general) wasn’t that.

  9. KG says

    Animal House – a film held sacred by Boomers and Xers – Susan Montgomery@8

    Nice to see you haven’t lost your talent for ridiculous stereotyping.

  10. tacitus says

    But could it be that elite families are just as unethical as TV families? I see little evidence to persuade me otherwise.

    It comes down to the fact that having lots of money creates so many more opportunities to get you or someone close to you out of trouble and greatly increases your chances of success. The only thing that’s likely to stop relatives from helping the black sheep of the family, is if they are afraid of the blowback and how it will affect them — but again, that probably doesn’t often apply to the megarich, since they’re pretty much insulated from all consequences short of jailtime, especially in a divided society where any public backlash is merely the opportunity to burnish your victim credentials.

    Even before you get into anything that’s typically seen as unethical, simply paying millions of dollars for a top legal defense team goes a long way to bail a wayward relative out of trouble, and I doubt it’s even a hard decision for the families who can easily afford it. If making a few phone calls and pulling a few strings helps grease the wheels, it’s got to be tempting for many wealthy families to do it, even if they agree what their loved one did was awful.

    It’s been this way for thousands of years. I doubt it’s going to change any time soon.

  11. areyouashoggoth says

    The rule of law applies to everyone or it applies to no one, because virtually everybody has a family, or close friends that are family equivalents, so everyone would have a convenient excuse.

  12. tacitus says

    I am 69 years old, never-married, childless, and with no siblings. But whenever I hear stories like this I reflect on what a terrible throw-of-the-dice conceiving a child always is, and that so many people seem to sleep-walk their way into parenthood, and I count myself fortunate that it was never in the cards for me to go down that path.

    This is way too pessimistic. I’m in the same situation in that I don’t have kids and am very unlikely to do so, but I have two siblings and they have a 100% record (5 for 5) when it comes to raising kids to become great human beings. (I may be biases, but all five are doing very well, and none of them has even remotely been in serious trouble of any kind, and one has even rescued his now wife from a really tough family situation.)

    There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s not a crap shoot by any means. You and your family have a huge part to play in the success of raising children, and can be the thumb that tips the scales greatly in favor of success.

  13. Rob Grigjanis says

    Susan @8: I’m more of a Top Hat (1935, Astaire, Rogers) devotee myself. My creed:

    I’m puttin’ on my top hat
    Tyin’ up my white tie
    Brushin’ off my tails
    I’m dudin’ up my shirt front
    Puttin’ in the shirt studs
    Polishin’ my nails
    I’m steppin’ out, my dear to breathe
    An atmosphere that simply reeks with class
    And I trust that you’ll excuse my dust
    When I step on the gas for I’ll be there

    You are a silly person.

  14. James Fehlinger says

    My creed:

    I’m puttin’ on my top hat
    Tyin’ up my white tie
    Brushin’ off my tails
    I’m dudin’ up my shirt front
    Puttin’ in the shirt studs
    Polishin’ my nails
    I’m steppin’ out. . .

    You are a silly person.

    Silly, you say?

    Come on and dress me, dress me, dress me
    in my finest array,
    ’cause just in case you hadn’t heard
    today is do-mi-do day.

    Dress me in my silver garters,
    dress me in my diamond studs,
    ’cause I’m going do-mi-doing
    in my do-mi-do duds.

    I want my undulating undies
    with the maribou frills.
    I want my beautiful bolero
    with the porcupine quills.
    I want my purple nylon girdle
    with the orange-blossom buds,
    ’cause I’m going do-mi-doing
    in my do-mi-do duds.

    Come on and dress me, dress me, dress me
    in my peekaboo blouse,
    with the lovely interlining
    made of Chesapeake mouse.
    I want my polka-dotted dickie
    with the crinoline fringe,
    for I’m going do-mi-doing
    on a do-mi-do binge.

    I want my lavender spats,
    and in addition to them,
    I want my honey-colored gusset
    with the herringbone hem.
    I want my softest little jacket
    made of watermelon suede,
    and my long persimmon placket
    with the platinum braid.

    I want my leg-of-mutton sleeves,
    and in addition to those,
    I want my cutie chamois booties
    with the leopard-skin bows.
    I want my pink-brocaded bodice
    with the fluffy fuzzy ruffs,
    and my gorgeous bright-blue bloomers
    with the monkey-feather cuffs.

    I want my organdy snood,
    and in addition to that,
    I want my chiffon Mother Hubbard
    lined with Hudson Bay rat.

    Dress me up from top to bottom,
    dress me up from tip to toe.
    Dress me up in silken spinach
    for today is do-mi-do.

    Do-mi-do day!
    Do-mi-do day!

    So come and dress me in the blossoms
    of a million pink trees.
    Come on and dress me up in liverwurst
    and Camembert cheese.
    Come on and dress me up in pretzels,
    dress me up in Bach Beer suds,

    ‘Cause he’s going
    In his do-oh-oh-oh oh-oh-oh
    oh-oh-oh-mi-do duds!

  15. Susan Montgomery says

    @10 I gotta be me ;)

    @Rob – FWIW, here’s mine:

    So much style without substance
    So much stuff without style
    It’s hard to recognize the real thing
    It comes along once in a while
    Like a rare and precious metal beneath a ton of rock
    It takes some time and trouble to separate from the stock
    You sometimes have to listen to a lot of useless talk
    Shapes and forms, against the norm
    Against the run-of-the-mill
    Swimming against the stream
    Life in two dimensions is a mass production scheme
    Rush – Grand Designs

  16. stroppy says

    So, I’ve been a little confused about why a hippie puncher might champion a band like Rush, so I thought I’d check and see what I was missing. On to Wikipedia…

    …Rush’s musical style changed substantially over the years. Its debut album was strongly influenced by British blues-based hard rock: an amalgam of sounds and styles from such rock bands as Black Sabbath, the Who, Cream, and Led Zeppelin. Rush became increasingly influenced by bands of the British progressive rock movement of the mid-1970s, especially Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and Jethro Tull…

    Sounds like they’d fall under a certain someone’s broad definition of ‘hippie’. Hmm. Then I saw this

    combined with lyrics influenced by Ayn Rand.


    Worst hippie cult ever.

  17. unclefrogy says

    Jaws pretty much summed up what is known up to now. Do we know what advice Chris gave to his brother and whether he took it. My guess most favorable guess would be that Andrew is not a great one for taking a lot of advice and probably did not take much of it except at the very end, but we do not really know those details.
    addiction is cruel and very common I do not know if anyone has it figured out in any way but the most general way.
    If I were to quote some ideals related to “My Creed” I would find it very difficult.
    I like “Top Hat” everything by Fred I find uplifting

    Though I often find myself with Hamlets question
    I also aspire to “Face the Music and Dance” in response
    and remember Phil Ochs and his song “There but for fortune” when I think about addiction and judgment

  18. wzrd1 says

    Call me funny, but family or friend, I’d do the same and advise the misbehaving individual to fess up, apologize and take their lumps like an adult.
    What we see is people complaining about losing what they spent their lives to build, while burning it to the ground with being caught in lies of the most unforgivable egregiousness. Sorry, kiddies, that only works for Trump, as he really doesn’t care about reputation, only profit. if you wanna live there after the mess, don’t spread bullshit all over the place!

    Oh, I’m a Boomer, never was interested in watching Animal House.

  19. birgerjohansson says

    The revival of the two Cuomos has at least been one positive aspect of COVID.
    Too bad about the 3 million dead.

  20. says

    The logic of crime for the sake of family can be adaptive under barbarism; but civilization requires law. So behavior evolves in response to conditions, as is usual for evolution.

    This reminds me of the crime-family drama “The Sopranos”. There the logic of ‘unethical shit for family’ breaks down, partly because of the efforts of the FBI, partly because of competition from even worse crime families, and partly because unethical shit favors the sociopathic, who are not well fit for raising families. Tony Soprano betrayed everyone unfortunate enough to be close to him.

    Evil is a tactical plus, but a strategic minus. It’s a social dilemma for us, a social species.

  21. Kagehi says

    @22 birgerjohansson

    Which, again, due to the refusal to spend money on it by the government for anyone else, is “easier” for the rich to get, as is any other sort of help – so it actually comes down to a choice between, “Solve the problem the right way, or ignore the right way and hide/deny the problem with lots of money.”, and these sorts of people choose to condemn actors that spend the money the right way, to get treatment, for example, while praising the people that, “Do any unethical shit possible, to help family.”

    If only this was a disqualification from certain jobs (or government work)…

  22. PaulBC says

    Rob Grigjanis@14

    Polishin’ my nails

    Now I’m starting to wonder about the historical norms of male nail polish (yes I too am very silly) but I can’t find definitive information in five minutes of googling.

    I think somehow I had the idea as a kid in the 70s that it wasn’t that unusual for men to apply a clear coat to strengthen their nails. I have no idea why I would even have formed any impression about this*. This is backed up by those lyrics. If you’re stepping out in style, you would like your nails to be well trimmed and not showing cracks. However, I have essentially no experience with this and would guess it’s something like slicking down your hair or keeping it natural. It goes in and out of style.

    (*There was always nail polish and remover around the house, which came in handy for craft projects and experiments with acetone, but it was my sisters’.)

    The links that I can find googling for male nail polish invariably suggest that it’s something new and daring. Well, what was Fred Astaire singing about in 1935? It can’t be all that new.

  23. stroppy says

    Polishing nails.

    I don’t know for sure, but what comes to mind is a gesture you don’t see much anymore where a man breathes on his nails, them rubs them on his chest, and then inspects them. It indicates pride in appearance, or sometimes distracted self-involvement in old-timey popular entertainment. I.e., “hot stuff!”

  24. stroppy says

    BTW, classical guitarists will, as you say, use clear polish the nails on their right hand to strengthen them. I imagine some hunters may also put some clear polish on a lengthened thumbnail, for skinning.


  25. says

    @stroppy — Little TMI, yeah. But, meh, not my nails, not my body, not my business.
    On-topic — My ethics may be somewhat flexible, and I’ve done some shit, but covering for serious hurting-people crimes? Especially the sexual kind?
    Hard. Pass.

  26. John Morales says


    Now I’m starting to wonder about the historical norms of male nail polish (yes I too am very silly) but I can’t find definitive information in five minutes of googling.

    Bah. Foolish vanity is as prevalent amongst men as amongst women, and anyone else, and always has been.

    I mean, wigs, powders, make-up, stupid clothes, grooming… men have indulged in such things forever and a day. Not even just that, but this thing called ‘fashion’.


    (Yes, I address your subtext)

  27. John Morales says

    [even when I was a little kid, I snickered at the concept of ‘aftershave’, which was most clearly just perfume]

  28. jenorafeuer says

    Most of the Ayn Rand stuff in Rush was from Neil Peart, who was an Objectivist early on, primarily on the first two or three albums from Rush in the 1970s. His later attitude was ‘it was important to me at the time while I was still finding myself; you believe a lot of things when you’re young’. So his interest in Objectivism has not lasted the over 40 years since that time.