CNN’s primetime lineup took a beating this week, with an assist from a political analyst — whose security team delivered one.
Chris Cuomo’s expletive-laden rant was caught on video and shared on social media, Don Lemon was hit with a lawsuit over an alleged assault in a Long Island bar and contributor April Ryan’s bodyguards were caught on video physically assaulting a journalist at a New Jersey event.
Cuomo, who anchors “Cuomo Prime Time” weeknights at 9 pm, was the subject of a viral video on Monday that captured a confrontation between the longtime CNN anchor and a random stranger who made the mistake of calling him “Fredo,” a reference to the weaker brother from the classic film “The Godfather.”
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo goes ballistic at a guy who called him “Fredo.” Says it’s “like the N-word.”
Then, he threatens the guy saying, “I’ll f*cking throw you down these stairs like a f*cking punk.” pic.twitter.com/9pva06m72Z
— Eddie Zipperer (@EddieZipperer) August 13, 2019
Between f-bombs, Cuomo alternately threatened the stranger — at one point, saying that he would throw him downstairs — and argued that the man’s use of the term “Fredo” was an ethnic slur that was the equivalent of “the n-word for Italians.”
There were some who defended Cuomo, pointing out the fact that he had been approached in public while out with his family and he had every right to be offended. CNNPR even backed Cuomo’s argument that “Fredo” was an ethnic slur.
Chris Cuomo defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup. We completely support him.
— Matt Dornic (@mdornic) August 13, 2019
But many also argued that Cuomo had a responsibility to not escalate the situation — a position Cuomo himself took when he tweeted his apology.
Appreciate all the support but – truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me. This happens all the time these days. Often in front of my family. But there is a lesson: no need to add to the ugliness; I should be better than what I oppose.
— Christopher C. Cuomo (@ChrisCuomo) August 13, 2019
Shortly after the video went public, it was confirmed that Cuomo was on vacation and would return to hosting his show next week.
According to the lawsuit, a former bartender named Dustin Hice saw Lemon, 53, at a local dive bar called Murf’s and offered to buy him a lemon drop. The CNN personality reportedly refused the gesture, but later approached Hice.
“Mr. Lemon, who was wearing a pair of shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt, put his hand down the front of his own shorts, and vigorously rubbed his genitalia, removed his hand and shoved his index and middle fingers in Plaintiff’s moustache and under Plaintiff’s nose,” the lawsuit alleges.
Hice claimed that Lemon then asked him, “Do you like pussy or dick?”
Don Lemon ‘Categorically Denies’ Lawsuit Claims That He Assaulted Hamptons Bartender https://t.co/PxSRuhpvWZ
— People (@people) August 14, 2019
A spokesman for Lemon has categorically denied that the assault ever took place and alleges that Hice has “tried to shake down” the “CNN Tonight” host in the past, adding, “The plaintiff in this lawsuit has previously displayed a pattern of contempt for CNN on his social media accounts. This claim follows his unsuccessful threats and demands for an exorbitant amount of money from Don Lemon.”
Hice’s attorney argued that the plaintiff had taken down his social media accounts the day the suit was filed in order to avoid any underhanded action from the network. “The assertion that Mr. Hice would put himself through the painful process of filing a sexual assault lawsuit against his attacker all because he doesn’t like a cable TV station is ludicrous.”
Reports indicated that Lemon offered a six-figure settlement prior to the suit being filed.
April Ryan, CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for Urban American Radio Networks, gave the keynote address at the New Jersey Parent Summit at the Heldrich Hotel. According to Charlie Kratovil, a reporter for the New Brunswick Today, Ryan’s security team enthusiastically escorted him from the building. He also alleged that one member of her team stole his camera.
THREAD: It’s been 36 hours since @AprilDRyan’s security guard assaulted me in a hotel lobby after stealing our camera.
Because there has been some misinformation going around, I want to lay out exactly what happened before, during, & after this video.
— Charlie Kratovil (@Charlie4Change) August 5, 2019
Ryan famously accused the White House of “placing a target on her back” in August of 2018 after a series of very public confrontations with then White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She then announced that she had hired her own security team, but argued that the White House ought to foot the bill.
Ryan also took heat earlier this year for suggesting that Sanders ought to have her head “lopped off.” (RELATED: CNN’s April Ryan Got Security To Supposedly Protect Her From Trump Supporters. Here’s Her Guard Beating Up A Journalist)
CNN has previously run into trouble in pursuit of stories attacking the president.
In June of 2017, the network retracted a story claiming that then Trump-advisor and friend Anthony Scaramucci was under investigation for ties with Russia. The story turned out to be false, and three CNN reporters were fired as a result. CNN apologized to Scaramucci.
In December of 2017, the network was forced to do damage control after Manu Raju broke a story that allegedly tied Donald Trump Jr. to WikiLeaks. A misreported date on an email turned the entire scoop into a misfire.