CNN defended anchor Chris Cuomo on Monday after a heckler referred to him using an ethnic slur in what the network described as “an orchestrated setup.”
The “Cuomo Prime Time” host, who is of Italian descent, was called “Fredo” by the man, which Cuomo called a racist slur toward Italians, comparing it to the N-word.
“Fredo is from ‘The Godfather,’ he was that weak brother and they’re using it as an Italian aspersion. It’s like the ‘N-word’ for us,” Cuomo explained to the man who was taping the heated confrontation.
The footage of the encounter was first shared by conservative media personality Brandon Straka on his YouTube channel, “That’s the Point with Brandon.” He claims the man Cuomo threatened to thrown down the stairs if he persisted is a Trump supporter who believed the anchor’s real name was “Fredo.”
In the footage, Cuomo shot down the man’s claim, telling the heckler directly, “You did not think that. … Don’t be a liar. You want to be a man, stand up like a man. … Own what you said.”
CNN offered support for Cuomo following the video’s release.
“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur,” CNN Vice President of Communications Matt Dornic tweeted. “We completely support him.”
Fox News personality Sean Hannity also came to Cuomo’s defense.
“I say good for Chris Cuomo,” Hannity tweeted. “He’s out with his 9-year-old daughter, and his wife and this guy is being a jackass in front of his family.”
“[In my humble opinion] Chris Cuomo has zero to apologize for,” Hannity added. “He deserves the apology.”
Donald Trump Jr., however, urged his father’s supporters to use the ethnic slur to target the CNN anchor.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 13, 2019
President Trump, who has used expletives in public, condemned Cuomo for suing “filthy language.”
Would Chris Cuomo be given a Red Flag for his recent rant? Filthy language and a total loss of control. He shouldn’t be allowed to have any weapon. He’s nuts!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
Cuomo took to Twitter on Tuesday to thank his supporters and express regret for his own behavior. “Appreciate all the support but – truth 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.”
Appreciate all the support but – truth 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.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) August 13, 2019