CNN anchor Chris Cuomo apologized Thursday after complaining that President Donald Trump’s “fake news” insult of his performance was equivalent to calling someone a racial slur.
Cuomo, pressing the case that Trump unfairly ― and wrongly ― accused him of failing to ask a question that he actually did ask Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), called out the president on the air and, hours later, on SiriusXM.
That was “literally the first point I made in the interview,” Cuomo said of his question about Blumenthal misrepresenting his military record in Vietnam. “The president, with all due respect, is once again off on the facts. That’s not something that any of us have any desire to say on a regular basis, but it keeps being true.”
Then, Cuomo floated an argument about the destructive nature of being called “fake news,” and said the term is as bad as a racial slur.
“’Fake news’ is the worst thing that you can call a journalist,” Cuomo said on air. “It’s like an ethnic disparagement. We all have these ugly words for people ― that’s the one for journalists.”
Blumenthal told Cuomo what he has been telling other journalists since Wednesday: that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, said in a private conversation that the president’s recent attacks on judges were “disheartening.”
The statement apparently upset Trump, and he took aim at CNN.
Cuomo dug himself deeper in an interview hours later with SiriusXM.
“The only thing that’s bothersome about it, is that I see being called ‘fake news’ as the equivalent of the N-word for journalists, the equivalent of calling an Italian any of the ugly words that people have for that ethnicity,” Cuomo told host Michael Smerconish. “That’s what fake news is to a journalist.”
Calling a journalist’s work “fake news” is a frustrating, false, demeaning insult. It’s also a dangerous attack on the intelligence of Americans, especially when it comes from our president.
But Trump’s false claim, while an affront, is most certainly not the same thing as an “ethnic disparagement.” It’s water and oil, a pothole and a sinkhole, a lit candle and a raging dumpster fire.
Cuomo later took to Twitter to apologize:
Happy Black History Month, Mr. Cuomo.