Chris Cuomo will not take people heckling him in public lying down.
In a video posted to social media, the CNN anchor gets into a verbal altercation with a man who apparently taunted him by calling him “Fredo”, in reference to John Cazale’s character in “The Godfather” films, described by younger brother Michael (Al Pacino) in one scene as being “weak… and stupid.”
As anyone who’s seen “The Godfather” and its sequels already knows, being called “Fredo” is hardly flattering, and Cuomo, 47, responded with anger.
“No, punk-a** b***hes from the right call me ‘Fredo’. My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN,” Cuomo tells the man in the video. “‘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**king 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**king thing?”
The man then responds sarcastically, “You’re a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem to be on television,” to which Cuomo responds, “If you want to play, we’ll f**king play.”
As the heated argument continues, Cuomo threatens the man: “I’ll f**king ruin your s**t. I’ll f**kin throw you down these stairs like a f**kin’ punk.”
In a statement, CNN told Fox News, “Chris defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.”
As the clip went viral on Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. took a shot at Cuomo, telling him the term “Fredo” is not a slur but rather a comment on being “the dumb brother.” Cuomo’s brother is Andrew Cuomo, the current governor of New York state.
Trump Jr. also pointed to a clip from Cuomo’s CNN show in which a panellist refers to the son of the U.S. president as “Fredo” and the host appears not to take issue.
Fox News host Sean Hannity came to Cuomo’s defence, though, noting on Twitter that he was out with his family when the altercation occurred and that he “deserves an apology.”
On Tuesday, Cuomo responded to the controversy, acknowledging he could have handled the situation better.
“Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me,” he wrote to his Twitter followers.
“This happens all the time these days,” he added. “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.”