A video released by conservative media personality Brandon Straka shows an unidentified man baiting the network’s most-watched anchor at a party, calling him a slur and then arguing with him as others capture his response with recording devices. During a heated exchange, Cuomo establishes that someone called him “Fredo,” a reference to one of the characters from the 1972 film “The Godfather” that Cuomo says is considered by many Italian people to be an insult aimed at their cultural heritage.
The person Cuomo admonishes makes it clear later in the video he intends to use the images to get Cuomo in trouble. “Look at all these cameras. You’re in for it. You’re in for it,” the man said. The man told bystanders that he thought “Fredo” was Cuomo’s name. Cuomo’s show was seen by an average of 954,000 people in July, according to data from Nielsen, which makes any claim that the man didn’t know who Cuomo was hard to believe.
“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur,” CNN said in a statement. “We completely support him.”
Others also lent Cuomo support in public – including Sean Hannity, the top-rated Fox News anchor whose program runs opposite Cuomo’s “Cuomo Prime Time” in the 9 p.m. time slot. “I say good for Chris Cuomo,” Hannity said via Twitter. “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.”
Cuomo on Tuesday apologized for his role in the altercation. “Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me,” the anchor said in a post on Twitter. “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.”