CNN’s most-viewed primetime anchor on Monday told listeners to his SiriusXM radio program that he no longer likes what he does professionally. On Tuesday, he revealed he recently signed a new contract with the AT&T-controlled cable-news outlet.
Cuomo said the remarks he made Monday, spurred by his recent bout with coronavirus, were misinterpreted. “I love where I am, I love the position that I’ve been given, and I love who I’m doing it with. Those are all matters of fact for me,” he said Tuesday. “No place has ever been better to me,” he said.
The day before, Cuomo had some listeners thinking he might want to give it all up. “I don’t want to spend my time doing things that I don’t think are valuable enough to me personally,” Cuomo said Monday. “I don’t value indulging irrationality, hyper-partisanship.” CNN and Cuomo disclosed late last month that he had tested positive for coronaviurs, but has continued to do both his 9 p.m. program on CNN as well as his weekday SiriusXM show.
He suggested he had grown weary of “trafficking in things that I think are ridiculous” and “talking to Democrats about things that I don’t really believe they mean” and “talking to Republicans about them parroting things they feel they have to say.”
But on Tuesday, the anchor clarified that he had been considering shaking up the way he does his job, not abandoning the job itself. “It is hard to practice journalism when people are so intent on believing what they want to believe for political advantage. It makes you question: is it worth the effort? Can I make a difference? Can I personally make a difference? Is the way I’m doing this working?”
The anchor has a history of speaking candidly about his job and employer. In 2018, before his primetime show launched, he told Variety that he disliked the various on-air panels of guests that have flourished in recent years on CNN and insisted that he not be made to host them as a condition of taking on primetime duties. “I don’t need to sit there and listen to all of these outsized voices with competing banter,” Cuomo said. “I think there’s enough of it.”
He has brandished a combative style of interviewing that often makes him a target off camera, and some of his encounters in private life have appeared to frazzle his nerves. In August of last year, for example, Cuomo was accosted at a party and provoked by an anonymous bystander who was eager to record Cuomo’s reaction and make it public. “I have to tolerate people’s opinion about me because I’m a public figure,” Cuomo said on the SiriusXM program. “I don’t want to do that, I don’t think it’s worth it to me.”
But his primetime performance has buoyed the AT&T-owned cable-news outlet. “Cuomo PrimeTime,” which launched in 2018, quickly became CNN’s most-viewed program, fueled by the host’s willingness to drop some of the polite conventions of on-air interviews and press guests on various topics. In recent weeks, ratings for the program have soared due to viewer interest in news about the pandemic as well as Cuomo’s interviews with his older brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
On Tuesday, he tried to make things more clear. “If you listened to the show, you understood the context. Nobody called in yesterday and said, ‘Are you going to leave CNN?’ Why? Because it was clear that that’s not what I was talking about,” he said. “I was talking about having legitimate questions, which I’ve had all along this administration. Let alone, with a fever with COVID for two weeks and being pissed off about being sick and rethinking a lot of things on an existential basis all the time. It is frustrating to do this job in an environment where people are not interested and open. It is hard to practice journalism when people are so intent on believing what they want to believe for political advantage. It makes you question, is it worth the effort? Can I make a difference? Can I personally make a difference? Is the way I do this working? If it’s not working can I do it differently, do I want to do it differently?”