Chris Cuomo Claims He’s ‘Completely Divorced From Ideology’ While Talking Up ‘Advocacy Journalism’

Before Monday morning's debut of the Cable News Network's New Day three-hour program, co-host Chris Cuomo was interviewed by Sam Thielman of Adweek.com in a discussion that ranged from his career choice of journalism over politics to his “tendency to advocate more than people are used to on television.”

Speaking of himself and co-hosts Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira, the 42-year-old newsman stated: “We take our jobs very seriously here at New Day, but we do not take ourselves very seriously. If it matters to people, it matters to us.”

Thielman began the interview by asking why the CNN anchor chose to go into journalism instead of politics since both his father, Mario, and his brother, Andrew, have served as the governor of New York state.

The biggest reason for it is the name you left out -- it’s Matilda Cuomo. What mom teaches all of us is that it’s about helping other people. She does advocacy, she does teaching, she does cancer [serving on the board of multiple cancer advocacy organizations].

As a result, Cuomo noted that “there may be a tendency for me to advocate more than people are used to on television.”

I believe that advocacy journalism is not an oxymoron. If that means that I’m going to disrupt the cable, partisan fracas of obsession over what this means from left and right, then so be it. I will be disruptive of it.

“I was never looking to be popular,” he stated.”The trade-off for me in seeking other people’s opinions is the potential to help that you get in the media. And we don’t always do that, but when we do, it’s a beautiful thing.”

When Thielman said he thought Cuomo's statement was “very noble,” the morning host responded that his motives are not political. In fact, he claimed to have no ideology whatsoever:

I’m completely divorced from ideology. Politics are important, but beautiful moments that show the triumph of the human spirit are just as important as how the IRS thing is going to shake out. You can’t just talk politics all the time -- it’s boring.


It would be nice if Cuomo would stop with the obvious falsehoods. Contrary to his false statement about having no ideology, the new CNN anchor has a long history of echoing the liberal line on a wide range of issues -- including health care, immigration, global warming, and the economy -- during his previous stint as the news anchor on ABC's Good Morning America and then his run as co-host of the 20/20 evening newscast.

Asked about his feelings on leaving ABC for CNN, Cuomo said it was “a tough decision” because he “loved ABC, loved the people there, had a gig I was lucky to have."

However, his new job gives him “the opportunity to be a part of making something better and get back into the mix and be relevant."

Just in an utterly non-ideological way, mind you.

The biggest difference between his new and old positions is “that it’s not easy to be on TV a lot,” Cuomo stated. “We in the network world are used to having time constraints and saying only what you have already thought through 150 times."

But on cable, you’re on TV for huge blocks of time because there’s a stamina issue, there’s a rhythm issue, and there’s a reporting issue about how often you get to verify things, how confident you are, because cable evolves the story.

As a result, “the network is generally coming in after the fact. They’re late to the game.”

When Thielman asked for an example of how his philosophy would play out on a current issue, Cuomo referred to the “fiscal cliff” and asked: “How did it play out in the news media? Will it happen? When will it happen?”

Cuomo continued that he would have pressed the power brokers in Washington, D.C., by stating: “You were sent there to cut a deal, and you didn’t cut a deal, and so you’re going to punish me, the taxpayer?”

It was an outrage and a disgrace, and it should have been treated that way. I would have done those interviews by asking: "Are you kidding me? You’re telling me people won’t give you what you want, and so your constituents are out of a job?"

Despite Cuomo's hue and cry, it has been widely acknowledged that the sequester which happened as a result of no deal being reached has had little impact on the economy. In fact, it is quite arguable to say that things have gotten better since then.

Starting Point, CNN's previous early newscast, averaged 331,000 viewers this year, about 70,000 fewer than MSNBC's Morning Joe but far behind the 1.1 million audience of Fox & Friends.

Meanwhile, Don Kaplan, TV editor for the New York Daily News, was less than thrilled by the first edition of New Day, stating: “It may be a 'new day' for CNN, but the network's new morning show feels a little bit like yesterday's news.”

After noting that “CNN executives have insisted all along that New Day would be "newsy and not drowsy," Kaplan stated: “Morning TV is unique in that the typically looser format allows anchors an opportunity to lighten the mood. The hosts of New Day were the opposite -- all business.”

As NewsBusters reported earlier today, TV Newser's Gail Shister also lambasted the new show as having a “dizzying pace” during which Cuomo refers to each guest as “my friend.”

Am I the only one confused by Cuomo's declaration that he is "completely divorced from ideology" but believes in "advocacy journalism?" If he has no ideology, what can he advocate? Or is this another way of saying "I'm liberal" without having to use that word or the term "progressive?"

Randy Hall
Randy Hall