CNN came to the defense of anchor Chris Cuomo on Monday night after he erupted at a stranger who called him "Fredo," declaring it to be an ethnic slur on par with the "N-word" against Italian-Americans.
Fredo is a fictional character from The Godfather series who is portrayed as the weakest and least intelligent of the Corleone crime family's brothers.
The controversy began when a man approached Cuomo in public and called him "Fredo." Cuomo reacted by cursing at the man and stated that calling an Italian "Fredo" is tantamount to calling a black person a "n—er."
"No, punk-ass b—es from the right call me ‘Fredo.' My name is Chris Cuomo. I'm an anchor on CNN," Cuomo said. "‘Fredo' was from ‘The Godfather.' He was a weak brother and they use that as an Italian slur—are any of you Italian? … It's a f—ing insult to your people. It's an insult to your f—kin' people. It's like the N-word for us. Is that a cool f—ing thing?"
Cuomo threatened to throw the man down the stairs before others interceded and broke up the argument.
The confrontation was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube under the account "THAT'S THE POINT with Brandon."
Vice-president and spokesman for CNN Worldwide Matt Dornic responded to Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter for sharing the video of the confrontation.
"Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him," Dornic said.
Cuomo himself tweeted regret about his behavior in the video.
"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," Cuomo wrote. "But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose."
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
CNN's viewpoint that "Fredo" is an ethnic slur can be viewed as hypocritical since employees of the network have used the term over the years. CNN host Jake Tapper has drawn cartoons referencing others using the "Fredo" insult, and commentators Ana Navarro and Rick Wilson referred to Donald Trump Jr. and Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.) by the moniker. Several other guests have also used the term, to no objection to anyone on the air.
CNN also published articles in which the "ethnic slur" was used.
"If Stone and Bannon turn into the 2019 version of Fredo Corleone, the president will face a tough road ahead," CNN legal analyst Paul Callan wrote in January 2019.
"Bachmann? If there was a mob character she resembled tonight it was Fredo from ‘The Godfather.' If she raised her hand one more time to get noticed, Anderson Cooper was going to send her out on a fishing boat," Roland Martin wrote in October 2011.