As an American of Italian descent on my mother’s side, I’d have to say … what?
It’s officially Not Safe for Work, but here’s Chris Cuomo throwing down with a man he calls a “punk-a** b****.” Fact check: true, but Cuomo should have just stopped there:
A man in NY yesterday approached CNN's Chris Cuomo and called him "Fredo"
Cuomo: "You're going to have a problem"
Man: "What are you going to do about it?"
Cuomo: "I'll fuckin ruin your shit. I'll fucking throw you down these stairs"
Credit: "THAT'S THE POINT with Brandon" pic.twitter.com/4iWwzaSQpF
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) August 13, 2019
It’s tough to blame Cuomo for getting angry over what was clearly intended as a personal insult, and then even angrier at the person’s denials of ill intent. That was no innocent mistake, as the provocateur tried to claim in backpedaling, but a deliberate reference to The Godfather and an accusation that Cuomo is the dumber and useless brother in the family. This person wanted to start some s*** with Cuomo and got more than he bargained for. Cuomo’s not the only one who should be embarrassed by this video going viral.
However, it’s clearly an embarrassment for Cuomo and CNN too, especially in equating “Fredo” to the N-word for Italians. There are a few derogatory terms for Italian-Americans as a group but none of them really rise to the level of the “N-word,” and Fredo isn’t a group insult in the first place. Its Godfather reference has nothing to do with Italianness; it refers to stupidity and incompetence in a sibling, offspring, or within an organization. (In fact, I’ve used it that way myself on occasion.)
Cuomo was well within his rights to tell the man off. Threatening violence over this was a huge overreaction, a childish effort to intimidate a nobody, and the N-word equivalency was an even worse overreaction. Why not just call the man an a*****e and an idiot and move on? Cuomo was the only one with something to lose in that situation, and he let himself get baited into a viral-video moment that makes him look like a hothead who leaves himself vulnerable.
Which makes Cuomo less of a Fredo and more of a … Sonny. Capisce?
CNN says they’re standing by their man, while the Washington Post wonders what the hell Cuomo was thinking:
But the core of the backlash centered on one claim from Cuomo: that calling an Italian person “Fredo” was comparable to using the n-word — an assertion that had many Italian Americans scratching their heads and other critics calling Cuomo out of bounds.
“Are any of you Italian?” Cuomo asked the group of men involved in the confrontation. “It’s an insult to your people. … It’s like the n-word for us.”
On Monday night, CNN also said it stood by the host.
“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said in a statement on Twitter. “We completely support him.”
Completely? Come on, man. Yes, Cuomo was provoked by a “punk-a** b****,” and that should count for something in CNN’s calculations. However, Cuomo threatened significant violence in response to nothing more than a dumb personal insult while hijacking the N-word to wrap himself in victimhood, not to mention hijack Americans of Italian descent at the same time. Does CNN “completely” support that kind of childishness? Because if they do, they might need to fire a couple of people, including Cuomo, for laying out the “F word” themselves and not rebuking it when it was used against the Trumps:
Does CNN’s head of PR still think “Fredo” is an ethnic slur after watching this? Because if it’s the N word for Italians like @ChrisCuomo says, I don’t understand why Chris seems so at ease with someone saying it here. An excuse just as fake as his news. #FredoCuomo https://t.co/8G8yuY80CK pic.twitter.com/1gwVyDVCob
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) August 13, 2019
Update: My Italian-American mother just told me that Cuomo should have left the gun and taken the cannolis.
Update: The president has weighed in to note that Cuomo “totally lost it”:
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 13, 2019
Update: In the last paragraph, I mistakenly wrote “Italians of American descent,” when I meant the reverse. I’ve fixed it now.
Update: Cuomo offered a belated acknowledgment of error, albeit incomplete:
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
Probably shouldn’t claim the mantle of African-American victimhood while doing so, too. At least this is a start, however.