Ex-CNN contributor Angela Rye ‘humiliated’ after Chris Cuomo allegedly called her ‘tinsel crotch’

A former CNN contributor says Chris Cuomo put her through an “embarrassing and humiliating” experience — and may have cost her a job at the network.

Angela Rye — who appeared regularly as a guest on the former CNN anchor’s “Cuomo Prime Time” — claims she was “stunned” when Cuomo responded to bikini-clad photo she posted on New Year’s Day 2021 by saying, “Happy New Year tinsel crotch,”

Rye said that when she didn’t reply to him, Cuomo offered her exciting new career opportunities — seemingly to smooth things over after the New Years message. But when she confronted Cuomo about his bikini comment, CNN ended her contract.

Now, she says she believes Cuomo may have had her fired over the debacle.

The attorney and commentator made the claims in the premiere episode of her iHeart podcast, “Native Land Pod,” which she co-hosts with Tiffany Cross and Andrew Gillum.

Holding back tears, Rye read what appeared to be an open letter to Cuomo.

Cuomo texted Rye “tinsel crotch” after she posted this photo on New Year’s Day 2021. angelarye/Instagram

“It all began on New Year’s Day [2021] when I posted a picture of myself looking forward to the New Year in a gold sequin bikini on Instagram,” she read.

“Cuomo screen-shot the image and said, ‘Happy New Year, tinsel crotch.’ “Stunned, I read and reread the message a dozen times, trying to understand if I somehow brought this on myself…  I teared up, like now, and then the tears flowed, I felt like the safest place I had on a show on CNN had been compromised,” a sobbing Rye told her co-hosts. She said she didn’t reply to the text.

Rye, who has also appeared on MSNBC, 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” and ESPN, said that a week or so later, Cuomo, whom she described as “the darling of the network” was texting me about a segment idea he had for his primetime show.”

Rye claims Cuomo teased a more prominent role on his show after he sent inappropriate text. CNN

She said that following his New Years text, “Chris Cuomo was suddenly excited about a prominent role for me where I would ‘check the left.’”

Rye said she had her doubts about the “genuine nature of this idea” because “Cuomo came up with this particular segment idea after [the] text exchange that went woefully wrong.”

She said she didn’t respond to his offer about the segment right away, but got back to him about a week later asking “if he still wanted to discuss his work idea despite him mentioning tinsel bikini and tinsel bottom along the way.”

Rye believes Cuomo was behind CNN not renewing her contract. CNN

Then, she said, on Janurary 21, 2021, the network called to tell her they weren’t renewing her contract.

Rye claimed CNN told her “they would be focusing more on [COVID] coverage and less on politics.”

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“I knew it was a lie, and it was confirmed when two black women were hired for half my contributor rate right after,” she claims.

The network fired Cuomo in December 2021 for advising his brother, then-governor Andrew Cuomo, on his sexual misconduct scandal. (Gov. Cuomo has consistently denied wrongdoing and Chris is suing the network).

Cuomo’s former ABC News boss, Shelley Ross, accused him of sexually harassing her in an op-ed she wrote in 2021. WireImage

Rye claimed that Chris, now an anchor at News Nation, texted her from a new number last year, and asked if she was mad at him. Holding back tears, Rye responded on her podcast Friday saying: “I was, but I was really mad at myself.”

“I was mad at myself for not saying anything sooner because I was lacking courage and preferring my financial well being over my mental health, not standing up for women, who are often left powerless… 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,” she said on the podcast.

“I was mad at myself for shrinking in the face of power when people depend on me to stand up, to speak up,” she said.

Rye said the situation “was harder for me because we were legitimately cool.” She added, “We had a great rapport, and I was worried about damaging a friendship, and a working relationship that you actually damaged.”

Cuomo was terminated from CNN in 2021. Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald
Rye launched the podcast, ‘Native Land Pod,’ with Tiffany Cross and Andrew Gillum. nativelandpod/Instagram

Cross, Rye’s co-host and friend, asked her if she believes the incident cost her her job at CNN. Rye described Cuomo as being “brutally cold” to her when they didn’t renew her contract.

“I don’t know if [he had me fired] or not, but that is certainly what I believe now,” she said.

This isn’t the first time a colleague has accused Cuomo of being inappropriate. Coincidentally, months after Rye’s text incident, his former ABC News boss, Shelley Ross, penned an op-ed in the New York Times claiming he sexually harassed her at a going-away party for an ABC colleague in 2005.

Cuomo is now an anchor on News Nation. Getty Images for WarnerMedia

“When Mr. Cuomo entered the Upper West Side bar, he walked toward me and greeted me with a strong bear hug while lowering one hand to firmly grab and squeeze the cheek of my buttock,” Ross wrote.

Cuomo responded via a CNN statement: “As Shelley acknowledges, our interaction was not sexual in nature. It happened 16 years ago in a public setting when she was a top executive at ABC. I apologized to her then, and I meant it.”

A rep for CNN, Cuomo and Rye did not get back to us by deadline.