Chris Cuomo, the CNN anchor, has been filmed in a heated exchange with a man he accused of calling him “Fredo” — a term Cuomo said was a slur for Italians.
“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo,” said Cuomo in a video that surfaced on a right-wing social media account on Monday evening. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from ‘The Godfather.’ He was a weak brother. And they’re using it as an Italian aspersion.”
“It’s like the n-word for us,” Cuomo went on to say in the clip that was uploaded to a right-wing YouTube channel called “That’s the Point with Brandon.” On Tuesday morning, the account said in posts on Instagram and Twitter that the video was taken down from YouTube, posting a screen shot of a notice that it violated the site’s guidelines, without providing more details.
The man talking with Cuomo responded that he thought Fredo was his name. Later in the exchange, Cuomo told the man he would “throw you down these stairs.”
It was not evident from the video what happened prior to Cuomo’s reaction.
NBC News reached out to the social media account to request an interview with the person who took the video, but was told that “the source of the video prefers to remain anonymous.” The account said the video was taken on Sunday in Shelter Island, New York.
NBC News also reached out to Cuomo for comment but has not yet received a response.
Cuomo has said in previous Twitter posts that he views “Fredo” as an “Italian slur.” The name refers to Fredo Corleone, a character in the Godfather saga who was viewed as the weakest brother in the mafia family; he was eventually murdered on orders of his brother, Michael Corleone. He was portrayed by John Cazale in the first two Godfather movies.
No reason to use bigoted references to be critical. I can be wrong, stupid – lots of pejorative designations. But I take that as an Italian slur, because it is – and that makes you a bigoted fool. Here is a rule: don’t be a bigot. Try to follow it. https://t.co/Smbsmc68Pi
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) July 10, 2018
CNN spokesman Matt Dornic tweeted the news network’s support for the anchor on Monday evening.
“Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.”
Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh has in the past described Cuomo as Fredo, both on his show and on social media.
The president weighed in on the video Tuesday morning, tweeting that he “thought Chris was Fredo also. The truth hurts. Totally lost it! Low ratings @CNN.”
Trump has frequently criticized CNN, repeatedly calling it “fake news” and accusing it of bias against him and his administration.
Not long after the video was posted on Monday evening, the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., posted more than a dozen tweets and retweets about the video, and told Cuomo to “take it from me, “Fredo” isn’t the N word for Italians, it just means you’re the dumb brother.”
Dornic, the CNN spokesman, went on to throw the insult back at the Trump family, tweeting, “Speaking of dumb brothers… cc: @EricTrump.”
Cuomo is the son of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and the brother of current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both Democrats.
Earlier this year, the president struck out at the CNN anchor, saying that “Chris Cuomo was rewarded for lowest morning ratings with a prime time spot.”
Conservative social media accounts criticized Cuomo’s reaction, with some pointing out that he didn’t say anything when pundit Ana Navarro used the word Fredo to describe Trump’s son, Donald Jr.
“Daddy kept Fredo back home,” said Navarro on Cuomo’s show, in a clip that “Cuomo Prime Time” tweeted in January.
However, some right-wing commentators were supportive of the anchor, including Fox News host Sean Hannity and short-lived former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
“Very proud of @ChrisCuomo this happens all the time. It’s quite racist,” wrote Scaramucci, while Hannity said that “Cuomo has zero to apologize for. He deserves the apology.”
Many of Hannity’s followers however, didn’t agree, with some telling him it was a “bad take.”
Rachel Elbaum reported from London, and Kurt Chirbas from New York.
Rachel Elbaum is a London-based editor, producer and writer.
Kurt Chirbas is a senior editor for NBC News based in New York.