Southampton resident and anchor of popular CNN morning show New Day, Chris Cuomo, joined The Southampton Press Executive Editor Joe Shaw for “RoundTable: Journalism in the Age of Trump” at Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton on Friday evening. The talk delved into changes and challenges for journalists in the current political climate, including the advent of “fake news” and the Donald Trump administration’s general level of hostility aimed at television broadcasters and print reporters.
Cuomo, who has won a long list of awards for his work, acknowledged the difficulty he faces each day, but added that President Trump’s office, and intelligence, demands respect. “The job is basically the equivalent of working in Thunderdome,” the CNN anchor said referring to the violent gladiatorial combat arena featured in The Road Warrior sequel Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. “It’s combative and it’s hostile.”
Though the event was scheduled long beforehand, Friday’s news cycle—focused on Trump’s personal Twitter attack on MSNBC’s Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough—proved perfectly apropos to the discussion. Cuomo pointed out that he, too, has been the focus of Trump’s ire, being called a “chained lunatic” and a “boiler ready to explode.” But, Cuomo said, “I don’t want it to be about me.”
Shaw and Cuomo’s conversation covered a range of topics under the parameters of the roundtable, including, but not limited to, the role of social media in journalism, the struggle to keep ratings up while still covering stories that matter, walking the line between pundit and journalist, politicization of truth, and the disconcerting tribalism between the left and right in America today.
The audience comprised members from both sides of the political spectrum and Cuomo and Shaw gracefully handled their passion during the talk. “I only exist because we want to feed this interchange, I’m fine with it,” Cuomo said following one outburst where an audience member accused him of attacking the president every day. “I think that the numbers bear out the reality,” Cuomo continued. “The number of stories that can be seen as negative about the president are disproportionate to those that can be seen as positive. Is that worthy of criticism? I think it honestly depends on your frame of reference and the lens through which you view those numbers.” Cuomo explained that when he is negative about the president, it’s not due to a personal issue. “I don’t believe it is an objective situation, what happened with Mika Brzezinski—the President of the United States should be better than that. I don’t think that is an opinion as much as it is a fact,” Cuomo said, adding that, on the other hand, he should never judge Trump’s policy positions, but he should test them through the discourse on his show.
A short question and answer period followed Shaw and Cuomo’s talk. Watch 27east’s video of the talk below.
New Day with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota is on CNN from 7–9 a.m. Monday–Friday. Visit cnn.com/shows/new-day to learn more.
Visit myrml.org to find upcoming events at Rogers Memorial Library.