UPDATED: 12:15 p.m. EDT — The inevitable happened and Donald Trump responded — via Twitter, of course — to the viral video that shows Chris Cuomo threatening to beat up some apparent supporters of the president because they called the CNN anchor “Fredo.” Cuomo equated the name-calling to that of an ethnic slur tantamount to the N-word, a fragile premise heavily challenged on social media.
All of that prompted the president’s Twitter fingers to double down on what Cuomo said he considered an offensive term by also calling him “Fredo” and tweeting that “The truth hurts.”
But the president couldn’t stop there. Nearly an hour and a half later, he was back to tweeting about Cuomo, calling him “nuts!”
It would later come out that Cuomo had previously allowed a guest on one of his shows to use the term in the same reference as the man on the video that was first published on social media Monday night. Other newscasters, like Chris Matthews, have used the name in the same context before. In fact, the New York Post published an article Tuesday reminding readers that even Cuomo has previously referred to himself as “Fredo.”
Still, CNN said they were supporting their star primetime news personality.
Loyal fans of Chris Cuomo will be happy to know that his fiery on-air TV persona is not an act. That truth was beyond proven overnight when a video made the rounds online showing the CNN anchor in an angry public rage while confronting a group of men.
It was unclear when and where the encounter took place, but the video opens up with Cuomo, clearly angry and raging out, claiming one of the men called him “Fredo,” an apparent reference to the character in the “Godfather 2” movie.
“Punk ass bitches from the right call me Fredo,” Cuomo can be seen telling one of the men he was with in the sideways, covertly filmed video. “My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN. Fredo is from ‘The Godfather.’ He was a weak brother and they use it as an Italian aspersion.”
The guy Cuomo was lecturing pleaded ignorance and said he honestly thought his name was Fredo, a “Godfather 2” character who just so happens to be described in the movie as “weak…and stupid.”
But the part of the “Fredo” dig that may have really ticked off Cuomo the most was the parallels to other aspects of the characters, including being the son and brother of powerful Italian men. Cuomo’s dad is former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and his brother is current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Fredo is the fictional son of mob boss Vito Corleone and considered the weakest of his brothers. Maybe that last part is why Cuomo took things a bit further and told the man that “Fredo” was like the N-word for Italians.
“Are you Italian?” Cuomo asks one of the men. “Its a fuckin’ insult to your people,” he said before adding this gem: “It’s like the N-word for us.”
(Editor’s note: Obviously likening the name “Fredo” to anything remotely as offensive as the N-word is perhaps the falsest of equivalences. A very unscientific search of the user-generated Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary ‘failed to uncover any mention of “Fredo” for ethnic slurs for Italians. Clearly, the same cannot be said for the actual N-word and Black people. Nevermind the fact that Cuomo’s failed simile lacked appropriate context, let alone any validity, as astutely pointed out by the below comedian.)
Back on the video, when things grew more heated, Cuomo said he would resort to violence, threatening to “fucking throw you down these stairs like a fucking punk.”
At one point, while the shaky camera was moving around, someone who sure sounded like Cuomo could be heard egging someone else on, saying, “Take a swing!”
A gaggle of men can then be seen trying to intervene and no actual punches were thrown.
The video ended with the main guy who Cuomo was talking to implying that there would be some legal action. Watch the saga play out below.
Of course, Twitter users were on their grinds and quickly found evidence of Cuomo reacting the complete opposite on live TV when an analyst used the term.
Old video also shows MSNBC’s Chris Matthews using “Fredo” in the same way on TV.
CNN vice president Matt Dornic responded to Donald Trump Jr.‘s trolling tweet by declaring that the network was standing behind Cuomo.
That unfortunate turn of racist events was not missed by people on social media, who made “Fredo” the top trending topic. Scroll down to see some of the funnier reactions to what was otherwise an ugly scene.