Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New Day's Chris Cuomo Steps In It Again

I started watching CNN's New Day a couple of months ago.  I watch parts of it, along with other network morning shows, because Chris Cuomo's interviews intrigue me.  When my channel surfing lands on New Day I watch for Cuomo's interview pieces.  Most of them provide comic relief at some point during the interview.

The subject matter is rarely comical, but the comic relief comes from Cuomo's inexperience that leaves him looking like a deer in the headlights, when an interviewee leaves Chris holding his own ass after asking a question that backfires. Watching Chris conduct one of his "hit piece" interviews is like driving by a car wreck; you have to slow down and look to see if there is any blood.  Chris is usually the one who gets bloodied in his hit piece interviews.

You are probably wondering why I watch New Day, since my previous comments about Chris Cuomo are less than flattering.  He's young, and when he learns to go after the news value of an interview, instead of the "WOW factor", Chris will be a great interviewer.  I am going to enjoy watching him grow, similar to another Chris...Wallace.  

Both Wallace and Cuomo got their breaks with their respective networks because of their last names.  Wallace has made the best of his opportunity.  He has found his million dollar payday.  Cuomo probably got the million dollar payday opportunity for being the New Day eye candy, and for his last name.  I doubt he has ever had a job that did not come as a result of his last name.  He is still struggling to make the best of the opportunity his name has given him with CNN.  

Chris Cuomo is not stupid.  In fact he is book smart intelligent, but lacks real world street smarts that may one day make him a great reporter as he experiences more of the real world and steps in it in his own interviews a few more times; maybe a few hundred more times.  He may one day realize that the story is bigger than him.

Right now Cuomo is the eye candy, stereotype (dark haired) blonde, stuck between two female hosts who are paid to slobber over his every word, and his poses for the cameras.  The two ladies have the hardest jobs; the jobs of not showing up Cuomo. 

Right now Chris Cuomo wants to be the news.  Some of his interviews are all about him.  Three interviews best illustrate his over eagerness to be part of the story and be seen as the best interviewer on television, even though he struggling to understand what it takes to be the best.

First, his interview with Dennis Rodman while Rodman and other former NBA players were in North Korea. was a complete failure and put an imprisoned American, Kenneth Bae, in greater danger than he was in before the Cuomo hit piece.  Then the follow up piece with Rodman in "rehab" further illustrated that Cuomo only wanted to play for the cameras.  Cuomo said that Rodman asked for the interview in rehab.  Maybe so, but sometimes it is best to just say no.

Let's be clear about Rodman;  I knew Dennis when he played college basketball in Durant, Oklahoma.  I doubt he can spell "diplomat", much less be one.  Rodman actually admits he is no diplomat.  Cuomo turned an interview that should have been about basketball, into an interview about Kenneth Bae, a subject that Rodman could not care less about and definitely should not have been asked about.

Not only did Cuomo's hit piece fail to make Rodman look any more stupid than we all know he is, the piece did more damage than good.  Why do I say that?   Bae was transferred to a work camp in North Korea after Cuomo made him the topic of the failed hit piece on Rodman.  Unintended consequence, absolutely, but Cuomo caused it; and for no good reason. If you ask Bae, he would probably say he doesn't want Cuomo to put any more focus on him.

Next, Cuomo interviewed a republican lawmaker.  I confess I don't remember the lawmaker's name.  The thing I remember is after the lawmaker answered one of Cuomo's questions the lawmaker stated, "Chris, you are an attorney, you know better than to ask a question like that."  Cuomo's pregnant pause before the next question was very telling.  Chris knew his ass had just been handed to him.  He couldn't even remember which camera he was supposed to look in for his best side shot.

Lastly, Cuomo really flubbed his interview with George Zimmerman.  The "unsophisticated", as Cuomo describes him, Zimmerman, held his own in the interview.  Cuomo had that deer in the headlights look several times, while losing track of the next question.  So, Chris just ask the same question again, four times in one case.  The unsophisticated Zimmerman finally said "I think that is another way of phrasing what I just said" when Chris tried to put words in Zimmerman's mouth by paraphrasing one of Zimmerman's answers.

The moment that made the entire Zimmerman interview worthwhile was when Cuomo made this point; if George had not gone out that night Trayvon Martin would be alive today.  Zimmerman responded by reminding Cuomo and Americans watching the piece, if he (Zimmerman) had not gone out that night, he (Zimmerman) would not have been attacked.  The reason the jury found Zimmerman not guilty was because he was attacked, and was defending himself.  That is also the reason Trayvon Martin is dead.

Is there a piece I would like to see Cuomo do?  Absolutely!  I would like to see him interview HLN's Sunny Hostin about her racist rant against the jury that found Michael Dunn guilty of attempted murder, but deadlocked on the murder charge.  Her rant was ridiculous and I am positive Cuomo realizes it, even though he cannot honestly say it if he wants to keep his million dollar job.

These are facts about the Dunn verdicts and lack of a verdict.  Three charges of attempted murder were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  Why?  Michael Dunn fired the last three shots into a retreating vehicle.  Dunn said at that time he did not know he had hit anyone, so he should have been charged with four counts of attempted murder, instead of three. 

I am not an attorney, so I don't know if murder and attempted murder can be charged for the same alleged victim.  Perhaps, attorney Cuomo, or former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin know the answer to that question?  I would rather hear that analysis of the case, instead of a rant about a racist jury, especially when that rant comes from a former federal prosecutor who knows better.  After all, Hostin was not present in the jury room and has no idea what was said during deliberations.  

So, Chris, take on one of your own if you want to do some real reporting.  Update your resume first though; CNN will fire you if you do any meaningful news reporting about a fellow "analyst" and her racist rant. 

As for me, I will keep watching Cuomo's interviews as I click around the various channels to get the full view of what is going on in the world.  At some point during his career I believe Chris Cuomo will forget the "ivy league, shoot me from this camera angle, please" concerns and actually start investigating the story for the news value in the story.  If he does, he will be more intellectually stimulated and may become one of the best interviewers on television.  It may happen, eventually.

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