Political commentator Angela Rye came forward with a stunning sexual harassment allegation against her former CNN colleague Chris Cuomo, whom she claimed called her “tinsel crotch” via text.
On the first installment of her “Native Land Pod” podcast, Rye began by addressing her “disappearance” from CNN after several years at the network.
She said her exit was more “impactful” on her than she initially believed, recalling how she was told by CNN in January 2021 her contract was not being renewed due to a shift in focus on COVID rather than politics, something she knew was “a lie” since “two Black women were hired for half my current contributor rate right after.”
She went on to tell a story she said she had “suppressed for three years.”
“Just 10 days prior to receiving that call on Jan. 21, the darling of the network and one of the most influential hosts during Jeff Zucker’s tenure was texting me about a segment idea he had for his primetime show,” Rye said. “Chris Cuomo was suddenly excited about a prominent regular role for me where I would check the left. Truthfully, I had my doubts on the genuine nature of this idea… Cuomo came up with this particular segment idea after a text exchange that went woefully wrong.”
“It all began on New Year’s Day when I posted a picture of myself looking forward to the new year in a gold-sequined bikini on Instagram. Cuomo screenshot the image and said, ‘Happy New Year, tinsel crotch,’” Rye told listeners. “Stunned, I read and reread the message a dozen times, trying to understand. If I somehow brought this on myself since whatever you post on social is fair game, right? I teared up… I felt like the safest place I had on a show on CNN had been compromised.”
According to Rye, Cuomo texted her hello a few hours later and the next day tried calling her to “discuss work.” She said she delayed responding to him, and when she did, she asked him if he “still wanted to discuss his work idea despite him mentioning tinsel bikini and tinsel bottom along the way.”
“As I think about this, it feels so f—ing small compared to what other women in the workplace experience, but I was afraid to speak up,” Rye said. “Between New Year’s and my follow-up, an insurrection happened on Capitol Hill where I feared I would lose loved ones. I felt like if I called him out, I was risking everything I was finally starting to build with the network and, as someone who is known for being courageous, I cannot begin to tell you how much I felt like… a coward. In 10 short days, I felt like what was the clear ride to the Promised Land turned into quicksand.”
She then appeared to direct her tearful message to Cuomo himself.
“I was mad at myself for not addressing this sooner. I was mad at myself for protecting your image with the Black women I know who loved you and looked forward to hearing your voice,” Rye said. “I know I’m not the only one, and truthfully, I’m mad about that, too, that everyone has given you a pass for fear of what it might mean to hold you accountable for clearly inappropriate behavior and overstepping. I was mad at myself for shrinking in the face of power when people depend on me to stand up, to speak up. This was harder for me because we were legitimately cool. We had a great rapport and I was worried about damaging a friendship and a working relationship that you actually damaged. I tried to redirect you repeatedly and you abused the grace you did not deserve.”
She continued: “So I apologize. I apologize for not leaning into what I know is my mission and shrinking in the face of power, for not doing more. I apologize to every woman who needed a voice, and I was silent. I apologize for waiting in the wings for opportunity that never came while I sacrificed sixth-grade, wounded Angela who desperately needed a protector in the face of bullies. I apologize for knowing how to be courageous, but not acting on it.
“I apologize to the people who experienced this in newsrooms, halls of Congress, the C suite support staff roles and college lecture halls. I see you and I want you to know you’re not alone. And I apologize to me for minimizing the impact this had on me, for wallowing in shame and shoulda-couldas when I just wasn’t ready to acknowledge or speak on what it is. So no, Chris, I won’t be a guest on your program now or later. Thank you for the platform. It was not worth all of the mental and emotional turmoil, and I thank God that I’m clear about the fact that you can’t take away a voice you never created, you or the network executives who enabled you.”
A representative for Cuomo did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. CNN declined to comment.
Cuomo was fired by CNN in 2021 after an anonymous former colleague brought forth a sexual assault allegation against him when the pair worked together at ABC News. Cuomo firmly denied her claims.
Separately, former ABC News producer Shelley Ross came forward months earlier alleging Cuomo had grabbed her buttock at a work function in 2005. She produced an email where he appeared to admit to the incident and apologize for his behavior.
The allegations came at a time when the once prominent CNN anchor was being scrutinized over revelations that he was aiding his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, behind the scenes during his sexual harassment scandal, resulting in his resignation.
Chris Cuomo has since joined NewsNation.