CNN morning anchor Chris Cuomo is a fascinating study in modern broadcast journalism. Handsome, engaging, obviously intelligent and wearing his New York liberal Democrat family’s brand for all to see, he will either become an annoying MSNBC-style left-wing media scold (like his dim predecessor Soledad O’Brien), manage to walk the perilous tightrope between fair newscaster and openly liberal commentator, or (my prediction) go into the Cuomo clan business and run for office. Lately, however, his adventures have me wondering if his ego will swallow his judgement, setting him on a trajectory for MSNBC itself.
On Wednesday’s New Day, Cuomo couldn’t hide his obvious disappointment over Florida Republican David Jolly’s victory in the much-watched Florida special Congressional election. He noted that The Price Is Right theme music was played Jolly’s victory rally on Tuesday, and expressed disgust: “What a metaphor for what politics has become – that they are playing the theme song of The Price Is Right when they celebrate a victory, because it’s about the money! It makes me sick.”
The impression Cuomo left was indeed disgusting, that Republicans were celebrating the triumph of their big money campaign over the Democrat’s similarly obscenely funded campaign, calling attention to their victory in what had become, due to its presumed bellweather status, a local race that had attracted support from deep-pocket king-makers from both parties. Ironically, Democrat Sink outspent the Republican Jolly, who won, making Cuomo’s indictment an example of selective prosecution. His indignation that the Republicans would be mocking the role of money in politics, however, seemed to justify his making them out to be villains.
Except that wasn’t why the theme from “The Price is Right” game show was playing. . It was playing because, as the news media had reported repeatedly during the race, Jolly had been publicly endorsed by Bob Barker, the iconic, now-retired host of the show, who votes in that Florida district. Cuomo not only had failed to know the facts, he had compounded his journalistic failure by basing partisan opinion on a mistaken perception, leading his audience to be mistaken as well.
I have often considered ranking the various journalism ethics breaches in order of seriousness and harm. Since journalists, like accountants, have only the job of telling the truth and conveying it to their clients, the public, the worst ethical breach is intentionally conveying falsehoods. The next worst, perhaps (there are other candidates) is recklessly or negligently letting the audience believe something that is untrue. This was what Cuomo had done in this instance, it seemed, and Newsbusters (which exists to expose reporters and pundits who mistreat conservatives and conservative causes, leaving the criticism of Fox News to everyone else) called him on it.
Cuomo, however, proving the egomaniac acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, responded with an angry tweet that said in part,
“[I ] stand by ever[y] damn word. I knew and Metaphor stands.”
That’s right. Rather than be thought ill-informed, careless and biased, Cuomo wants to make it clear that he knew about the Barker connection, and intentionally misinformed the public about why the song was playing, as any good progressive warrior would, by not letting his trusting viewers in on the truth. Apparently Chris would rather be seen as more unethical and deliberately misleading than be thought ill-informed while bashing Republicans,
MSNBC, here we come.