CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been filmed in an angry confrontation with a man who repeatedly referred to him as a character from the Godfather movie.
The footage, apparently shot on a mobile phone, was uploaded onto YouTube on Monday and shows Cuomo telling the unnamed man that “punk-ass bitches from the right” call him Fredo, which the TV personality says is a racist slur towards Italians.
“Fredo is from the Godfather, and he’s a weak brother, and they use it as an Italian aspersion,” Cuomo is filmed saying. “Are you Italian? It’s a f***ing insult to your people … it’s like the N-word for us.”
The man insists he thought Cuomo’s first name was Fredo, to which the Cuomo Prime Time presenter responds by calling him a liar and telling him to “stand up like a man”.
“You’re gonna have a f***ing problem, I’ll f***ing ruin your s***, I’ll f***ing throw you down these stairs like a f***ing punk,” Cuomo says after the man asks what he is going to do about the situation.
After facing up to each other, the pair are separated by associates and the man tells Cuomo: “Look at all these cameras. You’re in for it.”
The footage was first shared by right-wing media personality Brandon Straka, on his YouTube channel titled, “That’s the Point with Brandon”. Straka claims the man speaking to Cuomo is a Donald Trump supporter.
While Cuomo is a high-profile journalist, he is also known for being part of a political dynasty. His father Mario was a three-term governor of New York in the 1980s and 1990s, while his older brother Andrew is the current governor - so calling him Fredo suggests he is the underachiever in a notable family.
Donald Trump, who is enjoying a week-long holiday at his Bedminster, New Jersey gold resort, wasted little time in joining the attack against the CNN presenter.
He tweeted: "I thought Chris was Fredo also. The truth hurts. Totally lost it! Low ratings @CNN."
The president's oldest son, Donald Jr, also joined in, although he appeared to be gently mocking the fact that he himself has often been described as the Fredo of the Trump family.
He tweeted: "Hey @ChrisCuomo, take it from me, Fredo isn't the N word for Italians, it just means you're the dumb brother," followed by a winking face emoji.
Donald Jr was repeatedly compared to Fredo in 2017 when it emerged he had held a secret meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer at Trump Tower a year earlier in the hope of getting political dirt on Hillary Clinton. His actions were interpreted by some as an ill-thought-out attempt at impressing his father.
CNN said it was standing by its host following what it described as an “orchestrated set up”.
"Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur," CNN vice president Matt Dornic tweeted. "We completely support him."
Cuomo, a frequent critic of Mr Trump, was also defended by a host of figures from the right, including Fox News host Sean Hannity.
"I say good for @ChrisCuomo," Hannity tweeted. "He’s out with his 9 year old daughter, and his wife, and this guy is being a jackass in front of his family. (In my honest opinion) Chris Cuomo has zero to apologize for. He deserves the apology."
Anthony Scaramucci, Mr Trump’s former communications chief and a fellow New Yorker of Italian descent, tweeted: “Very proud of @ChrisCuomo this happens all the time. It’s quite racist.”
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