“I have been exposed to people in recent days who have subsequently tested positive and I had fever, chills and shortness of breath,” Cuomo said in remarks posted via Twitter. “I just hope I didn’t give it to the kids and Cristina. That would make me feel worse than this illness! I am quarantined in my basement (which actually makes the rest of the family seem pleased!) I will do my shows from here. We will all beat this by being smart and tough and united!”
Cuomo was seen on air holding forth from his home Monday night interviewing his brother, Governor Andrew Cuomo. Their conversations have become a regular feature of CNN’s primetime offering as the nation continues to grapple with the pandemic.
He is the latest TV-news staffer to test positive for the contagion. CNN, NBC News, CBS News, and Fox News Media have all had to rework staffing and logistics to accommodate employees who have been exposed to the illness.
Cuomo and his colleague Don Lemon have been instrumental in adding a new dimension of programming to CNN, which for years has tended to air shows that took a down-the-middle look at news events. As Fox News Channel and MSNBC have thrived with opinion hosts leading primetime, however, Cuomo and Lemon have launched programs that tend to challenge guests more forcefully and allow the hosts to add commentary.
His viewership in recent weeks has soared. On Friday, an average of 679,000 viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 – the demographic preferred by advertisers – tuned in to “Cuomo Prime Time,” compared with an average of 377,000 on March 9. On Friday, Cuomo’s audience in the category was larger than the one watching rival Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
He has brought an in-your-face on-screen style to CNN’s primetime – by design. “Yes, I like being aggressive. I don’t believe in faking the funk. I believe in being straight. You have to hold people to answer the questions. There is too much evasiveness, too much pandering, too much playing with the facts. You have to cut out the bias. It has to be a mix of brains and balls – that’s what it has to be,” Cuomo told Variety prior to the launch of his show in 2018. “You have to be ready to look people in the eye and ask them things they aren’t talking to and you have to swing to check them when they want to move on. That’s isn’t going to make you popular all of the time.”