CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said Tuesday he was grateful for “all the support” but really “should be better” after a viral video showed him angrily defending himself from a man who called him “Fredo” last weekend while Cuomo was out with his family.
The 49-year-old, whose eponymous news show airs daily on CNN, addressed the incident in a Tuesday morning tweet, writing, in part: “[T]ruth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family. But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose.”
CNN previously said it was standing by Cuomo, whom the network said was drawn into the profane altercation after the unidentified man used a “slur” to refer to Cuomo.
A roughly-two minute clip from the altercation began circulating via right-wing websites and personalities on Monday. It shows Cuomo telling the unidentified man that “Fredo” was an “aspersion” on Italians and threatening him if he continues the fight.
“It’s an insult to your f—— people,” Cuomo says in the video, after asking the man’s group if any of them were also Italian. “It’s like the n-word for us. Is that a cool f—— thing?”
“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me ‘Fredo,’ ” he says. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN.”
(“Fredo” refers to a famously weak-willed and untrustworthy character from The Godfather. Radio host Rush Limbaugh regularly uses it to refer to Cuomo, who is the younger brother of New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.)
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In the video, as the man claims that he believed that was Cuomo’s real name and that Cuomo was “a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem to be on television” — all while someone next to the man kept recording them both — Cuomo tells him, “Don’t f—— insult me like that.”
“You called me ‘Fredo,’ you know my name’s not f—— Fredo,” Cuomo says.
“You wanna be a man, I’m here. Then f—— own it. Then own what you said,” Cuomo tells the man.
“What are you going to do about it?” the man says.
“I’ll f—— ruin your shit, I’ll f—— throw you down these stairs like a f—— punk,” Cuomo tells him.
Though the clip shows the argument grew heated, neither man appears to touch the other, though they drew close to one another. At one point Cuomo appears to tell a third person not to touch him and, when the man he’s fighting with him tells him to “please” attack him, Cuomo responds, “Why? So you can f—— sue?”
“Take a f—— swing,” Cuomo tells the man.
The altercation occurred over the weekend on Long Island, New York, while Cuomo was with his family. (He has three kids with wife Cristina.)
The video begins after their conversation has started; the full exchange has not been released.
In a brief statement, CNN said Cuomo “defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.”
While some conservatives criticized Cuomo’s response — with the Trump family leading the way — Cuomo was also applauded for his behavior.
“I say good for @ChrisCuomo,” Fox News’ Sean Hannity tweeted on Monday night. “He’s out with his 9 year old daughter, and his wife, and this guy is being a jackass in front of his family. Imho Chris Cuomo has zero to apologize for. He deserves the apology.”
President Trump, 73, and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., however, both defended the exchange.
“I thought Chris was Fredo also. The truth hurts. Totally lost it!” the president tweeted Tuesday morning.