Callers came on-air, asking CNN’s Chris Cuomo to be fired. Then they wrote messages on a chalkboard and stuffed them into large bubbles. Another caller answered their pleas with a challenge: “Walk away, Chris,” she said.
Inside and outside the network, talk-show hosts, political activists and even colleagues have lashed out this week at the host of “New Day,” referring to Cuomo as a bully.
“Oh my God, the monster,” said Jane Velez-Mitchell, a CNN legal analyst and author.
The outrage began after a heated debate Wednesday on the so-called Twitter war over President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court between Cuomo and another anchor, Alisyn Camerota. The exchange was recorded by CNN staffers and has circulated online.
The interview focused on whether Camerota’s participation in a panel on the Kavanaugh matter would amount to an improper conflict of interest. And Camerota said at one point during the discussion that Cuomo had “demonstrated a complete lack of professionalism and behavior in presenting this.”
On Thursday, Cuomo took to Twitter to defend himself. He wrote: “God I’m frustrated. That’s in no way an indictment of anyone else but myself. I’d love to talk to my critics like adults, but here’s the problem: some of them are babies. Getting old fast.”
His tweet came amid an outcry over the controversy, and was retweeted thousands of times.
When he emerged on the “New Day” anchor desk on Friday morning, Cuomo said, “I was watching the news and I was punched in the face, which was fine. There were trolls out there. That’s what happens to a real journalist.”
In the lead-up to the Kavanaugh nomination, Cuomo has gone on the air with Camerota to discuss the issue for hours on end.
He defended himself Thursday by saying that he had “never been taken down” by another journalist in that role, pointing to a break-in of his home in the late ’80s.
On Friday, Cuomo was at his combative best, defending his job while assailing his critics.
A while earlier in the show, he’d told someone off-air, “If you want to take me out and beat me up, just do it man-to-man.”
The most prominent issue here seems to be retaliation. Cuomo has rarely hesitated to provoke. Since his “Morning Joe” days, he’s been famed for anger-management issues.
Last year, a tabloid suggested that he’d been treated at a New York City medical facility by “psychologists” specializing in “anger management.”
He has criticized his colleagues on air. And he has feuded with other networks. Last week, he assailed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R, for backing off a proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Cuomo has clashed with his boss, CNN president Jeff Zucker, before and after his time at “Morning Joe.”
“In all my years of working on the news side, I have never heard a criticism about Chris’ professionalism,” said Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief, who declined to comment further.
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