ROGER KIMBALL: The embarrassment of Fredo Cuomo.
As I write, thousands of Chinese troops are massing on the border of Hong Kong, but this week the world is mesmerized by the spectacle of CNN anchor Fredo Cuomo screaming threats and obscenities at some hapless chap who called him ‘Fredo.’ What Donald Trump accurately described as Fredo Cuomo’s ‘lunatic ranting, raving, & cursing,’ did not, as far as I know, include the painful objection that ‘I can handle things. I’m smart. Not like everybody says — like dumb. I’m smart and I want respect!’
Fredo’s exchange did, however, include various colorful threats — mostly involving a staircase — a lesson in scatological imprecation, an almost David Mamet-like deployment of the ‘F-word’ and its cognates.
Speaking of words so awful that they must, in polite society (and even when discussing people who work for CNN, the network that helps to make waiting for airplanes so taxing) — speaking, I say, of Voldemort words that must not be named, Fredo screamed at his interlocutor that calling someone of Italian heritage ‘Fredo’ was an ethnic slur, akin to calling someone who is black the ‘N-word.’
Rush Limbaugh — who was apparently the first to call Cuomo ‘Fredo’— pointed out that it is simply ‘absurd’ to say that calling someone ‘Fredo’ is an ethnic slur. It has nothing to do with ethnicity. It is simply a common or garden variety insult, casting aspersions on the intelligence, competence, and stability of the person so denominated.
CNN is apparently having a rare moment of lucidity if this report is true: CNN now ‘embarrassed’ by Chris Cuomo’s ‘Fredo’ flap.
One insider said they personally thought the run-in was “great” and that Cuomo would get a pass from higher-ups because “he’s BFFs with [CNN president Jeff] Zucker.” Another said the newsroom chatter was that “everyone thinks it’s fine to stand up to trolls, but it escalated way past where it needed to.” While they said Cuomo generally has a good reputation with the staff, “It was embarrassing.” They added, “It was an unforced error, and he gave the right — and the president — ammunition to use against him and CNN.”
Fredo stupidly failed to heed the advice that the Don told another of his sons: “Santino, never let anyone outside the family know what you are thinking.”