Hours after a video of Chris Cuomo went viral, showing the CNN anchor launching a profanity-laced tirade against a man who called him “Fredo,” President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign is already seeking to cash in.
On Tuesday, it began selling “Fredo Unhinged” T-shirts printed with images of Cuomo’s angered face and the words, “Text ‘Fredo’ to 88022” ― which will then provide people with campaign updates and donation information.
Campaign manager Brad Parscale ― creator of the infamous red Trump straws from which nearly $500,000 was raised in less than two weeks ― promoted the new merchandise on Twitter, alerting supporters supply is limited.
On Monday, footage surfaced on Twitter of Cuomo facing off with an unidentified man who, in an insult, referred to him as Fredo Corleone, the hapless character in “The Godfather” film franchise overshadowed by his younger brother and mob leader, Michael Corleone.
“Punk-ass bitches from the right call me Fredo. My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN,” he said in the video, claiming that for those of Italian descent like himself, the remark was akin to the N-word.
Cuomo is the younger brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo; their father, Mario Cuomo, also served as the state’s chief executive.
As the altercation that was videotaped becomes increasingly intense, the man asked Chris Cuomo what he was “going to do about it,” and the anchor made a physical threat.
“I’ll fucking ruin your shit. I’ll fucking throw you down these stairs like a fucking punk,” he said.
On Tuesday, Cuomo spoke about the blowup on Twitter, saying, “truth is I should be better than the guys baiting me.”
“I should be better than what I oppose,” he added.
In a statement to Mediaite, a CNN spokesperson said the anchor “defended himself when he was verbally attacked with the use of an ethnic slur in an orchestrated setup.”
“We completely support him.”
Even Fox News conservative opinion host Sean Hannity ― who rarely passes up an opportunity to scorch CNN ― expressed support for Cuomo, saying he “has zero to apologize for.”
Former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci has also backed Cuomo, calling out Trump for using his Twitter account to spread the “Fredo” put-down.
“He knows this is insulting to many Italian Americans,” Scaramucci tweeted. “Think about it someday it could be you.”
But for Trump’s campaign, it appears to be another gold mine for mockery and overpriced T-shirts capitalizing on his base’s disdain for CNN. And not surprisingly, criticism isn’t deterring its efforts.
Pinned at the top of the Team Trump Twitter page Tuesday night was an edited video of Cuomo’s face superimposed on Fredo’s in a scene from “The Godfather Part II” in which he says, “I can handle things, I’m smart! Not like everybody says.”
Rage-baiting paraphernalia has become a staple of the Trump campaign’s offerings. In March, it began marketing “Little Pencil-Neck Adam Schiff” T-shirt, employing the president’s derisive name for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). As chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Schiff played a lead role in keeping a spotlight on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
On Monday, the Trump campaign partnered with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for one of its latest creations ― the “Back-to-Back Supreme Court Champs” T-shirt, celebrating the confirmations of conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
A description of the item makes clear the intent: to “drive liberals crazy.”