I liked and enjoyed watching Chris Cuomo and his program Cuomo Prime Time on CNN. The host was probably one of the smartest people on American prime-time TV.
There are a lot of others with TV shows who simply read off the script and are not masters of their subject. Even while journalists are encouraged to hold a healthy dose of skepticism without dipping too much into the subject of every discussion, Cuomo knew most of what he was talking about. As a lawyer and a journalist, Cuomo could debate his guests forcefully and respectfully on TV. He could ask really tough questions. This is a sign of good journalism.
Cuomo Dismissal Wasn’t About Bad Behavior
Now to why I think he was fired. With this dismissal, CNN is positioning itself, and has been for some time, as the moral leader on American cable news. That is their bottom line. CNN wants to lead the American cable news ratings war by trying to make itself the place where people can look for some semblance of comfort during divisive social-political times.
A lot of broadcasters, including news media, have often been at the receiving end of accusations of putting profits over everything. The cost-benefit analysis of giving more preference to celebrity news and gossip over real news that impacts real people rakes in millions for cable news entities just as it impoverishes and makes life miserable for millions of others in America and around the world. Think about media bias when you think about cable TV and the business of news.
What’s more. We’ve seen reports of a lot of unethical behavior, including accusations of sexual impropriety rock US institutions over the last few years. And while this is so, a lot of the people accused, including TV personalities, have faced few consequences. While Cuomo’s case certainly had less to do about sexual impropriety as it was about giving aid to his brother Andrew Cuomo, former governor of New York, who himself resigned over such sexual accusations, Cuomo became a sacrificial lamb CNN wants to use to save itself.
CNN is under increasing pressure to be the adult in the room that audiences can trust in the US cable news system that is polarized just as the American electorate is polarized.
The End Justifies the Means
The toxicity of cable news needs a voice that can stand up and become that voice in the wilderness calling for a return to sanity and ethical behavior in America. CNN may just be looking for a long-term winning strategy, so they took action, even if they’ll lose the rating battle temporarily to Fox or MSNBC.
The impression we get on the air is that Cuomo is a decent, respectful person who likes to see good things happen in America, to see good things happen in the world. While I hate to see Chris leave. I’ll miss his intelligence and journalistic flair. But the powers that be at CNN decided they needed a change in behavior and they wanted to set an example. They found an easy scapegoat. So, Cuomo took the ax for “all our messes.”