'I don't like what I do professionally': Chris Cuomo has 'existential crisis' on radio show after coronavirus battle

By Graig Graziosi

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been fighting the coronavirus for two weeks, and while he’s showing signs of improvement, his battle with the virus may end up changing the course of his professional life.

In a radio interview on SiriusXM’s Let’s Get After It, Mr Cuomo said he was no longer happy with his work.

“I don’t like what I do professionally,” he said. “I’ve decided ... I don’t value indulging irrationality, hyper-partisanship. I don’t think it’s worth my time anymore.”

Mr Cuomo said struggling with the virus – and a chance encounter with a “loser biker” on Easter Sunday – made him reassess what he values.

“I don’t want to spend my time doing things that I don’t think are valuable enough to me personally,” he said. “I don’t value indulging irrationality, hyper-partisanship.”

Mr Cuomo went on to tell a story about an encounter with a “jackass, loser, fat tire biker” who he claims got in his face to “talk bulls*** to me.”

He complained that he had to hold back his emotions because he’s a public figure, and he doesn’t want to have to suppress the way he feels about things any longer.

“That matters me – me being able to tell you, ‘you shut your mouth or I will do you the way you guys get to do each other. I want that back. I want to be able to tell you to go to hell, to shut your mouth, I don’t wanna hear it,” Mr Cuomo said.

Mr Cuomo was the subject of a minor media spectacle last year after his profanity-laced response to someone who called him “Fredo” was recorded, which he alluded to on the radio show.

He said that the freedom to express himself as he pleases “matters to me more than making millions of dollars a year” and that it would be nice to tell someone “I don’t respect what you’re saying, I don’t respect your presence in my existence and you’re gonna leave or I’m gonna make you leave.”

Mr Cuomo, clearly frustrated by the encounter with the biker, was also critical of his role in the broader media ecosystem.

He said he feels like he’s “perceived as successful in a system” that he doesn’t “value” and that he no longer sees the point in “talking to Democrats about things that I don’t really believe they mean” and “talking to Republicans about them parroting things they feel they have to say.”

Mr Cuomo said he doesn’t feel he’s made a difference, and called President Donald Trump “full of s***” by design. He predicted that he would make a change in his life soon.

“So, I’m gonna make changes,” he said. “Why? Because I’ve gotta be happy. Why? Because life is short. Life is short. And I’m pretty far down the road. I’m gonna be 50. I’ll never be Sean Hannity. I’ll never have this mass following that echoes a political set of ideas and principles that I’ll agree with. Similarly, Rachel Maddow.”

The clip of Mr Cuomo’s remarks has been characterised in some outlets as a “meltdown” in which he is “trashing his CNN job.” But Mr Cuomo’s shift in values appears to have more to do with a shift in thinking prompted by his experience of living through the pandemic.

The anchor has been open about the toll the coronavirus has taken on him since he was first diagnosed and quarantined to his basement.

During an interview with his CNN colleague Sanjay Gupta, Mr Cuomo expressed his frustration with the lingering effects of the virus, specifically a low grade fever and a feeling of restlessness to return to normal.

“This virus creates emotional illness, and it creates psychological illness,” he said. “It is in my head ... it is causing people depression. And it’s creating brain fog. And it’s creating edginess in people.”

He said he felt like the face of the country – tired of being sick and desperate to get back to normal.