Cuomo Declares CNN Isn’t Opinion, ‘It Was Risky To Do What I Did’

As Chris Cuomo begins his career at NewsNation, he joined HBO Real Time host Bill Maher to look back at his time at CNN. The fired anchor was unrepentant, defending himself and the network as non-opinionated who were just performing a public service during the difficult Trump years at great risk to themselves.

After talking about Cuomo’s termination for advising his brother through his sexual harassment allegations, Maher changed topics, “CNN said it violated their journalistic standards and I said ‘CNN has journalistic standards?’” 

After the guffaws from the audience subsided, Maher continued, “What I meant is they made a conscious decision to move more toward opinion, than just giving the straight news. Which is sort of the Trump dilemma, you, sort of, had to do that. You couldn’t, like, pretend the things that Trump was doing were neutral.”

Rejecting the premise, Cuomo replied “So, I think that, just, you know, for the sake of counter position, I don’t see that as a move to opinion. I think that is addressing the need of serving people’s interests.”

Cuomo then argued that the media had no choice in the matter, even while acknowledging people do not trust it:

We were faced with something that the media has never seen in this country before. Where somebody weaponized the truth and won pretty much every fight he got into by ultimately blaming the system that people have rejected, including the media and unprecedented risk is going to require an unprecedented effort. I don’t think it was about moving to opinion, meaning not relying on facts and analysis, but they had to take it on. I felt very much that way, not everybody did it to the degree I did, it was risky to do what I did. 

As for those who would “say ‘you’re playing it straight,’” Cuomo proudly declared, “I say that’s not why I do this job, that I’m not here for convenience. I’m not here to hide, I’m not here just to get the check and the stardom. You got to take the risk when it matters and it was rough.”

Returning back his former colleagues, Cuomo added, “So, I don’t see CNN that way. I saw a lot of brave men and women deciding to take somebody on who had a tremendous amount of power and who had come at them by name too and that’s a scary thing.”

Cuomo may be trying to portray himself as just standing up for truth in the age of Trump, but there is more to his career at CNN than just Trump. He was one of the biggest peddlers of the Rebekah Jones conspiracy theory while using his show to goof around with his brother, despite Andrew’s nursing home policies.

Here is a transcript for the July 29 show:

HBO Real Time with Bill Maher

7/29/2022

10:12 PM

BILL MAHER: CNN said it violated their journalistic standards and I said “CNN has journalistic standards?” No, I’m kidding. I, no—that’s—that’s–they did. I didn’t mean that in a snarky way. What I meant is, although it did come out that way. 

CHRIS CUOMO: Yes, it did. It did.

MAHER: What I meant is they made a conscious decision to move more toward opinion, than just giving the straight news. Which is sort of the Trump dilemma, you, sort of, had to do that. You couldn’t, like, pretend the things that Trump was doing were neutral. 

CHRIS CUOMO: So, I think that, just, you know, for the sake of counter position, I don’t see that as a move to opinion. I think that is addressing the need of serving people’s interests. We were faced with something that the media has never seen—

MAHER: Right. Yes.

CUOMO: — in this country before. Where somebody weaponized the truth and won pretty much every fight he got into by ultimately blaming the system that people have rejected, including the media and unprecedented risk is going to require an unprecedented effort. 

I don’t think it was about moving to opinion, meaning not relying on facts and analysis, but they had to take it on. I felt very much that way, not everybody did it to the degree I did, it was risky to do what I did. You were better off keeping your head down—

MAHER: Right.

CUOMO: and say “you’re playing it straight.” I say that’s not why I do this job, that I’m not here for convenience. I’m not here to hide, I’m not here just to get the check and the stardom. You got to take the risk when it matters and it was rough. It is still rough for me to be seen as an enemy of the former president which is nonsense, I’m not an enemy of any person, I don’t wish him ill. 

I just want leaders to lead and to tell the truth and do what they’re supposed to do. So, I don’t see CNN that way. I saw a lot of brave men and women deciding to take somebody on who had a tremendous amount of power and who had come at them by name too and that’s a scary thing.

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