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CNN host Chris Cuomo’s now-infamous video of his “official reentry” into normal society after recovering from coronavirus has been labeled his “Brian Williams Iraq moment” after critics claimed he wasn’t being truthful.
"Alright, here it is... the official reentry from the basement, cleared by the CDC," Cuomo narrated Monday as he walked upstairs to greet his family. "This is what I've been dreaming of, literally, for weeks… this is the dream, just to be back up here doing normal things."
But he wasn’t really stuck in his basement for weeks.
Cuomo previously admitted he was involved in a heated altercation that took place outside his second property, in completely different area of the Hamptons, over Easter weekend. A bicyclist – who filed a police complaint – claimed that the CNN anchor was violating quarantine guidelines enforced by his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The CNN host confirmed an altercation took place on his radio show.
Cuomo's so-called "emergence" was extensively mocked on social media and continued to raise eyebrows when his colleague, CNN's in-house media critic Brian Stelter, included the controversial video in his nightly media industry newsletter. Stelter paints himself as a gatekeeper of media ethics but failed to point out the misleading elements of Cuomo’s video.
“The unnecessary travel from his home in Southampton to his home under construction in East Hampton while still suffering from fever & was therefore infectious needs to be addressed by the anchor on his program tonight. If not, this clip becomes Cuomo’s Brian Williams Iraq moment,” The Hill Media reporter Joe Concha tweeted prior to the Tuesday edition of “Cuomo Prime Time.”
Cuomo’s show came and went on Tuesday without any mention of the backlash he received after being accused of staging his own emergence from the basement in his Hamptons home where he had been recovering from the coronavirus despite a widely-reported spat with a bicyclist last week that occurred outside his home.
Liberal New York Times media columnist Ben Smith even mocked the situation, comparing CNN to a reality TV show.
“The extent to which CNN has adopted reality TV values here is pretty remarkable. Including eliding the controversy over Cuomo's travel,” Smith wrote to caption video of Cuomo’s return to society.
Back in 2015, then-NBC News anchor Brian Williams was suspended, and ultimately demoted to MSNBC, after getting caught embellishing events while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003. Concha had said it would be “Cuomo’s Brian Williams Iraq moment” if he didn’t explain himself on Tuesday — but the CNN host didn’t enlighten viewers with any type of response to the backlash.
One cable news host did find time to address the situation.
Fox News’ Tucker Carlson played a series of clips in which Cuomo used his CNN platform to remind viewers he was confined to his basement while recovering from coronavirus.
“Thankfully, Cuomo got better, we’re happy to hear that. Not kidding. But CNN, shameless cheese balls that they are, celebrated by filming Cuomo rising like a buff cable news Lazarus from the grave and back into ordinary life,” Carlson said before airing the footage of the “Cuomo Prime Time” namesake emerging from his basement.
“That was fake. Just last week Cuomo admitted getting into a fight with a bicyclist who harassed him for going outside and congregating with other people,” Carlson said. “Here you have a top CNN anchor, who appears to have been ignoring the social distancing rules his network has been promoting… it seems like he wasn’t telling the truth about staying quarantined in his basement.”
Fox News’ Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this report.