ABC's Probing 'Hot Seat': Does Chris Cuomo Wear Underwear?

For the second day in a row, ABC's "hot seat" segment on "Good Morning America" turned into a cringe-inducing display of gushing questions, including a query about Chris Cuomo's underwear habits. The network promoted the series, which kicked off on Wednesday, as a time when GMA's hard-charging hosts would be forced to ask tough viewer questions. An ad touted how weatherman Sam Champion "bravely" went first and exclaimed, "Every morning, they ask the tough questions...So, who will go next and what will they reveal?"

Apparently, the answer is they will reveal things that few want to know. Cuomo received this video question from twenty-something Tara of Pennsylvania: "So, Chris, boxers or briefs?" She then proceeded to suggestively wink. An apparently-not-too embarrassed Cuomo began, "Assuming I have anything on-" before being stopped by co-host Diane Sawyer. [Audio available here.]

So, what are some of the queries that the GMA anchors could have asked Cuomo? How about discussing the fact that Cuomo's brother is the current Democratic attorney general of New York and his father, Mario Cuomo, was a past Democratic governor of the state? One might wonder if it's hard for the journalist to give Republicans a fair hearing, given his family history. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo did actually call in to the "hot seat" to talk to his brother, but the conversation was limited to Andrew offering probing hardballs, such as this: "You're a great athlete. And you're flexing your biceps...Was there ever an occasion when you actually beat your older brother in basketball? Yes or no?"

The only time where this topic came even remotely close to being discussed was when Champion read an e-mail: "Jill in Texas wants to know, do you have any plans to enter into the political arena, following in your father's and brother's footsteps?" Cuomo blandly responded, "No. I am a voter and I'm very proud of my father and my brother. My brother fills the political space in the Cuomo family."

Champion might have followed up by highlighting the host's slashing interview with Republican presidential candidate Tom Tancredo on June 8, 2007. Speaking of the immigration bill that the congressman helped kill, he attacked, "You use, frankly, a scary word like balkanization as a result of what could have come about from a bill like this. Do you think you're driving anti-immigrant sentiment?" He also challenged, "Why did you feel the need to rip a bill like this down?"

Perhaps while Cuomo was in the "hot seat," he could have been asked, now that Barack Obama has been elected, whether he feels regret for fretting about American racism. On December, 20 2007, he questioned Obama, "What do you think the bigger obstacle is for you in becoming president, the Clinton campaign machine or America's inherent racists, racism?" The ABC host also challenged (then) presidential candidate John Edwards on January 2, 2008, "When you think people get into the room, do you think race or gender may play an unspoken role in the caucus voting?"

Now, in a previous segment, Cuomo did talk about his children and the difficulty for them to be raised by someone well known. But that doesn't exactly fit the concept of hard hitting queries. Co-host Robin Roberts will have her turn in the "hot seat" on Friday. Hopefully, ABC will move beyond underwear and select some actual tough questions for her. To submit a query, go to GMA's website.

A transcript of segment, which aired at 8:11am on November 20, follows:

8am tease

ROBIN ROBERTS: And Chris, as you know, is in the hot seat. He reveals what you want to know most about him.

8:11

ROBERTS: Okay. Now, we have a video question from Tara, who's from Pennsylvania.

TARA: So, Chris, boxers or briefs? [Tara winks.]

CUOMO: Assuming I have anything on-

[Sawyer puts her hand over Cuomo's mouth.]

DIANE SAWYER: He would answer that, but I will not let him.

8:12am

SAM CHAMPION: Jill in Texas wants to know, do you have any plans to enter into the political arena, following in your father's and brother's footsteps?

CHRIS CUOMO: No. I am a voter and I'm very proud of my father and my brother. My brother fills the political space in the Cuomo family.

ROBERTS: Well, I can't think of a better segue than to go to the hotline. And based upon what we' just talked about, are you there, Andrew?

[Phone rings. Andrew Cuomo via phone.]

ANDREW CUOMO: I'm here.

CHRIS CUOMO: Uh-oh.

ROBERTS: It's your big brother, Andrew Cuomo.

CHRIS CUOMO: Attorney general, state of New York. No one to mess with.

ANDREW CUOMO: How are you doing, guys?

SAWYER: We're great. So, what have you always wanted to ask Chris?

ANDREW CUOMO: Well, first, before I ask my question, I want to just make sure, Chris, raise your right hand. Chris, do you pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

CHRIS CUOMO: As best I can.

ANDREW CUOMO: We hear all about the good-looking Christopher, which I sort of get a kick out of now. Wasn't it true that you were really a rollie-pollie youth? Let's put it that way.

[Everyone laughs.]

CHRIS CUOMO: I'm sorry, I didn't hear you.

ANDREW CUOMO: Rollie-pollie is the expression.

CHRIS CUOMO: I was rolie-pollie. But don't make fun of me because you and I look almost exactly alike.

ANDREW CUOMO: Oh, no. I'm the good-looking one in the family.

CHRIS CUOMO: That's what mom says.

ANDREW CUOMO: [intelligible] You're a great athlete. And you're flexing your biceps. I just saw you. Not that I would call them biceps but I guess everything is relative. Great athlete. Was there ever an occasion when you actually beat your older brother in basketball? Yes or no?

CHRIS CUOMO: No.

ANDREW CUOMO: I just wanted to establish those facts for the viewing audience because I thought they were probative.

SAWYER: In the Cuomo family, they use words like probative, just willy-nilly.

ROBERTS: Thanks for calling in, Andrew.

SAWYER: Thanks so much.

CHRIS CUOMO: Thanks a lot, pal.

ROBERTS: We love your little brother. We love him. We love him like you do.

ANDREW CUOMO: So do I. So do I. And I'm proud of him, too.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org