Chris Cuomo, the aggrieved former 9 p.m. occupant, First Brother and Zucker/Gollust antagonist, spent about seven months in the wilderness—some of it building a $125 million arbitration case against CNN, much of it building more muscle tone in the Hamptons—before apparently coming to the conclusion that his only path back to the broadcast studio ran through NewsNation, the fledgling cable news network whose highest-rated show on most days are afternoon reruns of Blue Bloods. NewsNation averages just 50,000 viewers in primetime and 8,000 in the demo, or roughly 3 percent of the audience he had garnered nightly during his final year at CNN. But beggars can’t be choosers.
Cuomo’s decision to join the network, which he announced on Tuesday at the end of an hour-long interview on the channel about his ouster from CNN, presumably reflects a couple of calculations: first, that hosting a podcast or sitting on the beach isn’t going to satisfy his ego; and second, that at 51 years old, with a newly built home on the waterfront, he is going to need money—money which looks increasingly unlikely to come from his former employer. One cornerstone of Cuomo’s arbitration claim was that “his journalistic integrity” had been so “unjustifiably smeared” that it was “difficult if not impossible for [him] to find similar work in the future.” Alas, thanks to NewsNation, that is not the case.
Thanks, more specifically, to Perry Sook, the chairman and C.E.O. of Nexstar who last year decided to rebrand his little-watched WGN America channel as NewsNation and make a play on the cable news space, likely with an eye on boosting the Nexstar stock price. To furnish that effort, he has tapped media entrepreneur Dan Abrams—a Cuomo Hampton buddy who played a key role in pitching Cuomo on the network, and who conducted Tuesday’s interview—as well as a number of broadcast and cable veterans who, for one reason or another, are looking to rehabilitate their careers. Among them is Michael Corn, the longtime Good Morning America executive producer who was ousted from ABC News due to a sexual harassment allegation that has since been dismissed. Other recent hires include former CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield and former Fox News correspondent Leland Vittert.