CNN star Chris Cuomo is under fire for a monologue that some critics have interpreted as defending Antifa, after the militant group harassed police and members of the media during a chaotic weekend of protests against white supremacists.
On Monday’s edition of “Cuomo Prime Time,” the CNN host referred to “counterprotesters” and said the “vast majority of them were peaceful” with the exception of some members of Antifa who “covered their faces, confronted police and berated journalists.” Cuomo condemned their actions as “wrong,” but argued that “all punches are not equal” in a monologue that has angered critics of the CNN host.
“If you’re a punk who comes and starts trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong," Cuomo said. “But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue no.”
Several media watchdogs said Cuomo's comments amounted to a defense of violent Antifa protesters.
Media Research Center analyst Kristine Marsh wrote that Cuomo “started off by placidly arguing that violence is violence and attacks on the media were simply ‘wrong,’” but eventually “he tried to justify the violence coming from the left because, according to him, these rioters had the moral upperhand.”
Mediaite covered the rant with a headline, “Chris Cuomo Defends Antifa By Saying Their Attacks on Police, Journalists Are ‘Not Equal’ To Bigots,” while TheWrap wrote that “Cuomo delivered a passionate monologue on Monday evening, defending Antifa.”
The Hill media reporter Joe Concha also wrote that Cuomo defended Antifa and reminded readers that the CNN host once compared “allied troops who stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day” to modern-day Antifa members with a message on Twitter.
Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra wrote, "Cuomo suggested on Monday night that violence carried out by Antifa is not as bad as violence committed by racists because Antifa's cause is moral and just."
TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck tweeted Saavedra’s story and added, “Hey, has anyone figured out yet why people don’t trust CNN yet?”
Cuomo was also criticized on Twitter, where he responded forcefully.
“Amazing how partisanship is driving the right to embrace even hate groups. Of course, Antifa or anyone attacking cops and media in name of any cause are wrong and criminal,” he wrote. “But to expand the argument to all who oppose bigotry are the same as the hateful bigots? Come on!”
Pundit Joel Pollak accused Cuomo of siding with Antifa and excusing violence on the left, but the CNN host fired back.
“This is bs. Why spread lies? And luckily the video is there for all to see. When Antifa people hit cops they lose legal and moral high ground. I am talking about people like you who say bigots and those opposing them are equal,” Cuomo responded to Pollak.
Cuomo’s monologue came on the heels of the anniversary of the deadly Charlottesville riot that saw protests in Washington, D.C., and Charlottesville, Va. Members of Antifa – a so-called anti-fascist group -- were seen launching eggs, fireworks and water bottles at police officers and the Secret Service, beating people in the street and threatening members of the media
“This time, the racists were dramatically outnumbered by 200 violent and masked Antifa anarchists,” Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce wrote on Monday.
The D.C. Antifa group marched around the downtown area as camera phones caught members throwing eggs and water bottles and shooting fireworks at cops and journalists. The events were also relayed by some media members on the ground.
A video posted on Twitter showed Antifa members violently attacking a police officer on a motorcycle as he drove through the crowd.
A day earlier, in Charlottesville – the site of the violent and deadly clashes sparked by a massive far-right white nationalist rally – counterprotesters clashed with journalists, with an NBC News reporter saying one person even tried to grab a crew member’s camera as he was being told to stop filming.
In his Monday monolgoue, Cuomo explained that there isn’t a “moral equivalency” between white supremacists and Antifa because “people who show up to fight against bigots are not to be judged the same as the bigots, even if they do resort to the same kind of petty violence.”
“Fighting against hate matters,” he said.
Cuomo went on to say that “drawing a moral equivalency between those espousing hate and those fighting it, because they both resort to violence, emboldens hate” and “elevates what should be stamped out.” Cuomo repeatedly couched his comments by saying that all physical violence is wrong, but pushed his theory that anyone who opposes hate is on the side of what is right.
“Think about it, civil rights activists, were they the same morally as the bigots, as the racists with whom they exchanged blows? Are people who go to war, against an evil regime, on the same moral ground as those they seek to stop from oppressing the weak?” Cuomo said.
Fox News’ Lucia Suarez Sang contributed to this report.