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CNN’s Chris Cuomo suspended for aiding brother in sex scandal

“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defence,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday evening.

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CNN has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely after details surfaced he helped his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was brought up on sexual harassment charges earlier this year.

CNN made the shockwave announcement after documents released Monday revealed Cuomo was more “intimately involved” in building his brother’s defence, according to reports from CNN.

“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defence,” a CNN spokesperson said Tuesday evening.

“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.

“When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly,” the spokesperson continued.

“But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.”

“However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”

The seasoned anchor was a main draw for CNN with Cuomo’s 9 p.m. show drawing huge viewership, often the network’s most-watched program.

Earlier this year, two former aides of ex-governor Cuomo came forward with accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace.

As a result, Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor of New York three months ago while allegations of sexual misconduct were mounting.

Tuesday’s show was filled with an additional hour of Anderson Cooper 360 and Wednesday’s 9 p.m. slot will air a town hall about COVID-19. The network has not said what they will do for the time slot moving forward.

New York Attorney General Letitia James released documents Monday that contained text messages between Chris Cuomo and then-top aide to Governor Cuomo, Melissa De Rosa, that suggested the anchor was using his connections to help build his brother’s defence against the sexual misconduct allegations.

Chris Cuomo admitted during testimony he had contacted other journalists to “see if they had heard of anybody else coming out.”

A spokesperson for Andrew Cuomo said the release of the documents was a “misuse of government resources to damage political opponents” and called it “unethical and illegal.”

Network insiders had been critical of CNN’s Cuomo and his conduct in the wake of his brother’s scandal.

In May, CNN put out a statement that said, “Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo on-air or behind the scenes. In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.

“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”

At the time, the anchor also made a public apology during his show admitting his family comes first and apologized for how he helped his brother.

“It will not happen again. It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” he said. “I never intended for that, I would never intend for that and I am sorry for that.”

The anchor declined to comment on CNN’s decision to suspend him.

Melanie Risdon is a reporter with the Western Standard
mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

Melanie Risdon is a Calgary-based Reporter for the Western Standard. She has over 20 years experience in media at Global News, Rogers and Corus. mrisdon@westernstandardonline.com

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Ottawa press gallery discusses letting Chinese propaganda agency in

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

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Officials with the Parliamentary Press Gallery held a behind closed doors meeting on Tuesday to talk about letting reporters from Xinhau, the Chinese Community Party’s propaganda agency, into the club, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

“The gallery is not bound by any outside political considerations,” said gallery president Catherine Levesque of the National Post. 

“We are doing our due diligence to ensure Xinhua meets certain criteria and we will be making a decision shortly.”

Xinhua has been accused of misusing press privileges at the direction of Chinese diplomats.

“Membership in the Parliamentary Press Gallery allows access to the secure physical buildings of the parliamentary precinct and the opportunity to directly question individuals who drive and shape public policy,” gallery directors wrote in a 2020 code Journalistic Principles And Practices.

“As a result, accreditation is a privilege, not a right.”

Xinhua had been a member until 2020 when its press pass lapsed.

The Department of National Defence in 2012 blacklisted the agency from attending its press briefings, and a Xinhua correspondent in 2012 disclosed he was asked to maintain surveillance on Chinese dissidents in Canada.

The gallery would not discuss the Xinhua application but the gallery code states members must “respect the rights of people involved in the news.”

The Commons by a unanimous 266-0 vote last February 22 condemned China for human rights atrocities including the genocide of its Uyghur Muslim community. MPs also voted to petition the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Winter Games from Beijing.

“We need to move forward, not just as a country but as a world, on recognizing the human rights violations that are going on in China,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier told reporters.

“This is an issue that matters deeply to me, to all Canadians, and we will continue to work with our partners and allies on taking it seriously.”

Xinhua was originally granted Press Gallery membership in 1964 at the request of then-Foreign Minister Paul Martin Sr.

“It is a step in the direction of mutual understanding between Canada and mainland China,” Martin said at the time. Membership was approved in a press credentials swap that saw the Communist Party permit the Globe & Mail to open a Beijing bureau.

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PHA head says cellphone snooping fears unwarranted

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

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The president of the Public Health Agency (PHA) says Canadians need not fret over the fact his organization snooped on 33 million cellphone users, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

Dr. Harpreet Kochhar said managers at no time collected information that personally identified any of 33 million cellphone users.

“No personal information was asked or was received,” Kochhar told the Commons health committee.

“No individually identifiable data is contained in any part of the work.”

The Commons ethics committee last Friday voted 10-0 to examine the data collection program using cellphone tower tracking. The PHA said it sought the information to monitor compliance with lockdown orders.

“The actual reason why we collected this data is reliable, timely and relevant public health data comes out of it for other policy and decision making,” said Kochhar.

“This is population-level mobility data analysis. This is what we have collected.

“That would help us to understand the possible link between the movement of populations within Canada and the impact on COVID-19. We did that in terms of a very clear way of getting that open and transparent means of collection. We never, ever actually know when we use that information that it is individually identifiable. It is aggregated data.”

MPs on the ethics committee earlier noted cellphone users were never told the PHA was collecting the cellphone tracking data. Conservative MP John Brassard (Barrie-Innisfil, Ont.), noted the scope of the monitoring was only detailed when the Agency issued a December 17 notice to contractors to expand the program.

“It becomes increasingly concerning that government is seemingly using this pandemic as a means and a cause for massive overreach into the privacy rights of Canadians,” said Brassard.

“As parliamentarians, it’s incumbent upon us to make sure we protect those rights, that there is proper scrutiny and oversight.”

“The Public Health Agency was collecting data without the knowledge of Canadians, effectively doing it in secret. We need to know what security measures were in place to protect the privacy rights of Canadians.

“It is vital we do not allow the COVID response to create a permanent backslide of the rights and freedoms of Canadians including their fundamental right to privacy.”

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Health Minister Duclos has no info on $150-million COVID contract to SNC-Lavalin

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

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SNC-Lavalin was given a $150-million sole-source contract to provide “urgently” needed field hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic — but Canada’s Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos doesn’t seem to know much about it, says Blacklock’s Reporter.

The field hospitals were never used.

“This is obviously in support of the needs at the request of provinces and territories,” said Duclos.

But testifying at the Commons health committee, Duclos had no answer when asked why the contract was issued.

“What is the status of the mobile field hospitals SNC-Lavalin was contracted to produce?” asked Conservative MP Shelby Kramp-Neuman (Hastings-Lennox, Ont.).

“It was an example of the significant level of preparation that we did throughout the crisis,” replied Duclos.

“Why have the field hospitals from SNC-Lavalin not been deployed?” asked Kramp-Neuman.

Duclos replied he had no information on “the exact nature of the state of that equipment.”

“Did the Prime Minister’s Office approve of this?” asked MP Kramp-Neuman.

“That’s a public works question,” replied Duclos.

“We’re not getting a lot of clarity here,” said MP Kramp-Neuman, adding: “The buck stops with you. Sadly, I recognize you don’t have all the answers to everything, but it doesn’t seem like we’re getting a lot of answers to anything.”

An unidentified Department of Public Works manager finalized the SNC-Lavalin contract on April 9, 2020 without notice to other bidders.

“A public call for tenders was not issued due to the urgency of the need as a result of the pandemic,” said an internal e-mail.

However, as late as Sep. 9, 2020, the Québec contractor had still not fixed a delivery date, according to staff emails.

Paul Thompson, deputy minister of public works, Tuesday said he knew little of the contract details.

“I personally don’t have all the details at my fingertips,” said Thompson.

SNC-Lavalin was paid to supply field hospitals equipped with 200 hospital beds, ventilators, masks, medical gowns and ten days’ worth of medication, back-up generators, water and oxygen tanks, X-ray machines, shower bays and latrines.

“The self-sufficiency of the unit makes it extremely flexible for deployment where the need is greatest in Canada,” said a memo.

Internal records dated Oct. 13, 2020 disclosed no one wanted the field hospitals.

The department said spending included $2 million for design work and millions more on warehousing medical supplies for presumed future use.

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