Is this “Megyn Kelly/NBC” money, or “Michael Avenatti/Nike” money? Try putting the two of them together and you’ll still come up a bit short, if Page Six’s sources are accurate. CNN owes Chris Cuomo $18 million on his contract, which they claim Cuomo voided with his sexual harassment.
Cuomo wants more than three times his contract value to keep his mouth shut, reportedly:
Chris Cuomo isn’t backing down in his battle with CNN following the ouster of his boss Jeff Zucker — the anchor intends to demand as much as a $60 million settlement, according to sources.
Multiple sources tell Page Six that Cuomo, who was fired in December for helping his brother fend off sexual harassment allegations, is ready to dig his heels in by claiming that Zucker not only knew about his dealings with the governor — but that the network boss had his own inappropriate dealings with Andrew.
And he is prepared to demand not the $18 million left on his contract, but as much as $60 million.
“He wants Megyn Kelly money,” we’re told.
Well, Megyn Kelly didn’t get credibly accused of sexual harassment at NBC, so that’s one big problem with that comparison. Also, Kelly and NBC settled a $69 million contract for its remaining $30-plus million two years or so into the contract, not for $207 million. Kelly played hardball with NBC after they threw her under the bus when audiences turned on her, but she didn’t try to get more than she was owed, let alone more than three times that amount.
This sounds a bit closer to Michael Avenatti’s attempt to “settle” with Nike. Then-CNN hero Avenatti also threatened to ruin a corporate reputation if he didn’t get a big payoff. Remember how that worked out?
A criminal complaint against Avenatti says he “devised a scheme to extort a company by means of an interstate communication by threatening to damage the company’s reputation if the company did not agree to make multi-million dollar payments to Avenatti and [co-conspirator], and further agree to pay an additional $1.5 million to a client of Avenatti’s.”
The complaint says that last Wednesday, Avenatti and a cooperating witness spoke by phone with lawyers for Nike “during which Avenatti stated, with respect to his demands for payment of millions of dollars, that if those demands were not met ‘I’ll go take ten billion dollars off your client’s market cap … I’m not f—ing around.’ “
Avenatti demanded $25 million; he got 2.5 years at Club Fed instead. It’s highly unlikely that this Cuomo demand will get the Avenatti treatment from federal prosecutors, but it’s a lot closer morally to that than Kelly’s settlement. (It also makes Jake Tapper’s reported “negotiating with terrorists” analogy somewhat more apt.) It’s one thing to hold out for the contract value in exchange for a non-disclosure agreement, but something else entirely to demand an extra $42 million to buy his silence. And silence about … what, exactly? How Chris and his brother corrupted CNN with Jeff Zucker and Allison Gollust? Does Chris believe that will somehow vindicate the Cuomos?
It doesn’t sound like Cuomo really cares about the family reputation, though:
“Chris intends to fight for every dollar on his contract, and loss of income from the 15 to 20 years left in his career, had Zucker not orchestrated a ‘f–k-job’ on him. He could ask for as much as $80 million but CNN isn’t going to pay that. But there’s an argument he could ask for as much as $60 million”
A second source told Page Six that, “Chris is telling people in the Hamptons he was wrongly fired, humiliated, his career has been ruined, and he wants Megyn Kelly money.”
Good luck with that. Last we heard, AT&T/Warner was planning to cap any settlement at $9 million, but with the Discovery merger/acquisition on the line, they might already know that they’ll have to probably cough up the full $18 million on Cuomo’s contract. If he wants to push it for $60 million, though, AT&T/Warner and Discovery might just decide to spend the money to prevail in court and pay Cuomo nothing. If nothing else, they might get more laughs at forcing Cuomo to explain why CNN owes him a lifetime of earnings, more than the cringes they’ll endure from hearing Cuomo cry over how CNN, er, promoted his brother. That would be so entertaining, Discovery-ID might even televise the trial!