CNN says anchor Chris Cuomo was recently drawn into a fiery altercation with a man who called him “Fredo,” provoking an argument that went viral — with President Donald Trump weighing in.
A roughly-two minute clip from the altercation, which began circulating via right-wing websites and personalities on Monday, shows Cuomo, 49, telling an unidentified man that the name was a slur for Italians and threatening him if he continues the fight.
“It’s an insult to your f—— people,” Cuomo says in the video, after asking the man’s group if any of them were also Italian. “It’s like the n-word for us. Is that a cool f—— thing?”
“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me ‘Fredo,’ ” he says. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN.”
(“Fredo” refers to a famously weak-willed and untrustworthy character from The Godfather. Radio host Rush Limbaugh regularly uses it to refer to Cuomo, who is the younger brother of New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.)
In the video, as the man claimed that he believed that was Cuomo’s real name and that Cuomo was “a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem to be on television” — all while someone next to the man kept recording them both — Cuomo tells him, “Don’t f—— insult me like that.”
“You called me ‘Fredo,’ you know my name’s not f—— Fredo,” Cuomo says.
“You wanna be a man, I’m here. Then f—— own it. Then own what you said,” Cuomo tells the man.
“What are you going to do about it?” the man says.
“I’ll f—— ruin your shit, I’ll f—— throw you down these stairs like a f—— punk,” Cuomo tells him.
Though the clip shows the argument grew heated, neither man appears to touch the other, though they drew close to one another. At one point Cuomo appears to tell a third person not to touch him and, when the man he’s fighting with him tells him to “please” attack him, Cuomo responds, “Why? So you can f—— sue?”
“Take a f—— swing,” Cuomo tells the man.
The clip ends as more people intercede in the fight and it breaks up, with other bystanders filming as well. The man who spoke with Cuomo taunts him, “Look at all these cameras, you’re in for it.”
“I’m in for what? You called me f—— ‘Fredo,’ ” Cuomo says.
The altercation occurred over the weekend on Long Island, New York, while Cuomo was with his family. (He has three kids with wife Cristina.)
The video begins after their conversation has started; the full exchange has not been released.
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In a brief statement, CNN said it was standing by Cuomo, whose eponymous news show airs weeknights on the network.
“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him,” a spokesperson said.
While some conservatives criticized Cuomo’s response — with the Trump family leading the way — Cuomo was also applauded for his behavior.
“I say good for @ChrisCuomo,” Fox News’ Sean Hannity tweeted on Monday night. “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.”
“Heckling a public figure and secretly recording their reaction is a punk move,” tweeted conservative writer Matt Walsh. “Conservatives applauding it in this case are hypocrites. Good for Cuomo, treating the guy exactly as he deserved to be treated.”
President Trump, 73, and his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., however, both defended the exchange.
“I thought Chris was Fredo also. The truth hurts. Totally lost it!” the president tweeted Tuesday morning.
“Take it from me, ‘Fredo’ isn’t the N word for Italians, it just means you’re the dumb brother,” his son wrote on Monday night, tagging Cuomo on Twitter.
A CNN spokesman responded directly to Don Jr. on Twitter, writing, “Speaking of dumb brothers…. cc: @EricTrump.”
Cuomo has not addressed the incident himself.
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