Chris Cuomo is on a media rehab tour - calls for end of two-party political system

AP Photo/Charles Sykes

Chris Cuomo is making a comeback. After leaving his primetime television gig on CNN in disgrace, he seems to have landed at NewsNation, formerly WGN, where he will have a show. He also has a podcast he is promoting. He appeared on Bill Maher’s show Friday night and delivered some hot takes on politics, the media, and American culture.

Cuomo was given the boot by CNN in December. He was found to have been advising his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, during his sexual harassment scandal. The younger Cuomo brother often had Andrew on his show and fanboyed his work as governor of New York, especially during the pandemic. After seven short months, all is forgiven for his professional and ethical breaches, apparently, and News Nation is giving him a shot. Cuomo’s podcast, The Chris Cuomo Project, is getting some attention, too. Maher, who acknowledges his friendship with Chris Cuomo, began the interview by asking Cuomo if he is happy that his podcast is creating a buzz. “Happy — probably not the right word,” Cuomo replied. “I feel like I lost a sense of purpose for a while because of how things ended.”

Maher asked if it was too much to expect to be able to tune in and receive news in a non-partisan, unbiased manner. Cuomo agreed that people want an alternative.

“Is that possible, in this partisan country that we live in, to have the one place — I would love to see that — the one place where I don’t feel like I’m getting anybody’s narrative?” Maher asked Cuomo on the show after speaking about that purported bias.

“I believe the majority of people in this country are what I call free agents,” Cuomo said. “They have open minds and open hearts. They’re not about party.”

As the audience applauded, Cuomo continued: “They’re about respectful conversation. And you can get after, you can disagree, you just don’t have to surrender to hating a person that you don’t agree with and you’re open to the idea that maybe they know something you don’t.”

Yet, he defended the media. He is, after all, desperately clinging to working in news media.

“My defense of the media, though, is this, even though it didn’t end that well for me most recently,” he said, apparently referencing his firing from CNN late last year after reports emerged that he had played a larger role than previously known in aiding his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) with his defense against sexual harassment allegations. “You can’t expect the men and women in the media to not play a game that everybody else is playing. You are watching because of the game. You are allowing yourself to be put on teams or in tribes or any way you want to designate it, but they’re supposed to somehow break away from that when it’s what you want? When it’s what resonates with you? No.”

Welp. He’s learned nothing from his public disgrace. Journalists are supposed to be trained to be non-biased in their reporting. People are not tuning into news programs for opinions – there are opinion shows for that every night on cable news channels. Chris Cuomo’s show was during primetime and was one of CNN’s opinion shows, whether he wants to admit it or not. The reason Americans no longer trust the media is that there is no line anymore in reporting between facts and opinions. We can hear the reporter’s personal opinion seeping into stories every day. It’s gotten so bad at CNN that the new ownership has told on-air people that the network is doing less opinion journalism going forward. CNN wants to go back to its roots of straight reporting. It’s a nice goal, anyway, though we all know it’s doomed to fail after all these years.

Cuomo thinks the solution is that America’s political system should expand beyond the two-party system. “It’s not in the constitution, it’s not in the law.” His solution is more political parties, ranked-choice voting, and a “shame campaign on purple states who apportion their electors” in order to create more choice and less partisanship in politics.

He said he’s going to NewsNation because he believes in “insurgent media” and he thinks the network “has a chance to not be seen as groupthink.” My guess is that he’s going to NewsNation because it’s the place that is giving him a shot at rehabilitation and his own show. If it turns out he is one of a minority of liberal voices at the network, will he stay? I confess I’m not familiar with NewsNation. Looking at its page of on-air personalities and teams, only three names are familiar to me who have their own shows- Leland Vittert, a former anchor for FNC; Ashleigh Banfield; and Dan Abrams. Has Chris Cuomo learned a tough lesson on exhibiting journalism standards since his termination at CNN? I’m skeptical, given how he defines the actions of journalists as just playing the game. The point is, they aren’t supposed to be players, they are supposed to be reporting on the game from the sidelines.