In a curse-word laden interview with the Hollywood Reporter, CNN’s newest highly-rated host, Chris Cuomo of Cuomo Primetime dishes on just about everything on his time at CNN.
Acknowledging he is still the underdog at 9pm against cable news heavyweights Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow, he says, “I respect my competition because I have to respect their success. Who am I to shit-talk them? Any metric you want — relevance, ratings — they’re kicking my ass. We are the underdog. I am OK with that.”
However, Cuomo notes, “We beat Morning Joe‘s ass 2.5 of the seasons that I was there [on New Day]. We beat [Joe Scarborough] even though he had his head way up Donald Trump’s ass through the campaign and kept having him on the show.”
CNN chief Jeff Zucker says Cuomo’s 9pm show is “everything we hoped it would be” and wishes he would cut himself some slack. “He’s way too hard on himself,” he says. “He’s a competitor. He wants to win in the first inning of the game. We’re not even out of the first inning of this program.”
Even a rival veteran producer grudgingly acknowledges Cuomo’s success: “He’s actually doing a much better job than most people ever thought he would do.”
“He never backs down from a fight,” Zucker points out. “That’s what makes him the perfect cable news anchor.”
Asked if he supports Cuomo’s more controversial bookings, including Conway, Zucker responds, “Would they be on CNN if I wasn’t supportive? I’m not trying to be cute. Of course I’m supportive. You can’t run a news channel and you can’t do a show if you don’t talk to all sides.”
Ratings will come. “Eighty percent of the audience still doesn’t know who he is,” Zucker says. “We all talk about [ratings] and traffic in it and live in it. That’s not the real world. Most of the world doesn’t know who Chris Cuomo is. It takes time. You build over time. “While Cuomo says he’s always been told that he’s “hard to manage,” Zucker hasn’t found that to be the case. “I find no evidence of that,” he says.