CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was recorded threatening to throw a man down a flight of stairs after the man had apparently called him “Fredo.” Cuomo was reportedly out with his wife, Cristina Greeven Cuomo, and one of their children at the time of the exchange.
The name “Fredo” refers to the fictional character Fredo Corleone from the Godfather movies. The character is viewed as the less competent brother seeking his father’s approval. Cuomo, whose brother Andrew is the current governor of New York, referred to the name as a racial slur against Americans of Italian heritage.
The confrontation went viral after it was first shared by the conservative social media account “THAT’S THE POINT with Brandon.” A spokesperson for CNN shared on Twitter that the network is standing behind Cuomo. He also received support from others such as Fox News host Sean Hannity and Anthony Scaramucci, who both praised Cuomo for defending himself.
But the encounter has also triggered a backlash against Cuomo for comparing the name “Fredo” to the n-word. Donald Trump Jr. pointed out an instance in which a guest on Cuomo’s program used the name and Cuomo let it slide.
On Tuesday morning, President Trump got involved by writing on Twitter, “I thought Chris was Fredo also. The truth hurts. Totally lost it! Low ratings @CNN.”
Warning: the video embedded below contains profane language.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Chris Cuomo Tells the Man That the Name ‘Fredo’ is an ‘Insult’ to Italian-Americans
The confrontation between Chris Cuomo and the yet-to-be-identified man happened on Sunday, August 11, according to the Washington Post. The host of “THAT’S THE POINT with Brandon” told the newspaper that the video was recorded at a restaurant in the town of Shelter Island on Long Island. The man allegedly “went up to Cuomo to ask for a picture.”
The video begins after the exchange had already escalated into anger. The man is heard saying, “I thought that’s who you were.” Cuomo responds, “No, punk a** b*tches from the right call me ‘Fredo.’ My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. ‘Fredo’ is from the Godfather. He was a weak brother. And they use it as an Italian aspersion.”
As Cuomo is speaking, the man appears to mock the CNN anchor. As Cuomo says that “Fredo” is from the Godfather, the man is heard saying, “Isn’t that your brother though?”
Cuomo asks the people around him if they have Italian heritage. He goes on, “It’s a f*cking insult to your people… It’s like the n-word for us.” The man replies, “You’re a much more reasonable man in person than you seem to be on television.”
2. The Confrontation Escalated to Threats of Violence as the Man Repeated, ‘I Thought That’s What Your Name Was’
The exchange continued to escalate as the man appeared to mock Chris Cuomo, insisting that he thought the CNN anchor’s name was “Fredo.” Cuomo angrily exclaimed, “If you got something to say about what I do on television, then say it.”
The two went back and forth for a moment as Cuomo reiterated that the man knew exactly who Cuomo was, and did not actually think his name was “Fredo.” After Cuomo warns that there is a problem, the man replies, “What are you gonna do about it?”
Cuomo responds, “I’ll f*cking ruin your sh*t. I’ll f*cking throw you down these stairs like a f*cking punk.” The man says, “Why don’t you do it then?” Cuomo tells the man to “take a swing at me” as the man says he won’t do that.
Security eventually separated Cuomo and the other man before the confrontation could become violent.
3. Chris Cuomo Tweeted That He ‘Should Be Better’ Than Those Who ‘Bait’ Him
In the hours after the video was shared on social media, the confrontation has gone viral.
The terms “Fredo,” “Italians,” the “Godfather” and Chris Cuomo’s name have all been trending on Twitter, especially as commenters debate whether “Fredo” is considered a racial slur.
Cuomo responded to the fallout from the video in a Twitter post on August 13. He thanked supporters but also expressed 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.”
4. Chris Cuomo Received Verbal Support From a CNN Spokesperson & Others Including Sean Hannity
A spokesperson for CNN, Matt Dornic, wrote on Twitter that Chris Cuomo has the backing of the network. He wrote, “Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.”
Fox News host Sean Hannity, whose program airs at the same time as Cuomo’s, also came to his defense. “I say good for @ChrisCuomo. 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.”
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci shared a headline about the encounter and agreed that the name “Fredo” is a racial slur.
5. Donald Trump Jr. Was Among Those to Criticize Chris Cuomo for Comparing ‘Fredo’ to the N-Word
Chris Cuomo has received some backlash on social media for saying that the name “Fredo” is on the same level as the n-word. Donald Trump Jr. pointed out that he himself has been referred to as “Fredo” on Cuomo’s CNN program.
In January of 2019, political commentator Ana Navarro called Trump Jr. an “entitled, rich, spoiled little brat whose only call to fame is being his daddy’s son” during a debate over the border wall. Navarro appears to liken Trump Jr. to the “Fredo” character, saying that “Daddy kept Fredo back home.” The full clip was shared on social media by “Cuomo Prime Time” and is embedded above.
Trump Jr. also wrote, “Hey @ChrisCuomo, take it from me, “Fredo” isn’t the N word for Italians, it just means you’re the dumb brother. ?” He wrote this in response to a Tweet from Katrina Pierson, a senior advisor on President Trump’s re-election campaign. She too slammed Cuomo for making a comparison to the n-word. “Did @ChrisCuomo just say that “Fredo” is to Italians what the N word is to black people? Th N word is a dehumanizing word used against blacks who endured years of oppression. Fredo is a term from The Godfather, referring to the dumb brother. Equivocating the two is pure racism.”
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