CNN anchor Chris Cuomo and communications director for the Trump campaign Tim Murtaugh ended up having an on-air spat on Monday evening as the pair discussed the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 12-minute interview quickly descended into an argument as Cuomo began by discussing the recent increase in COVID cases across the U.S.
Murtaugh defended his boss saying President Trump had been tackling the coronavirus ‘head-on’, noting the travel China ban which had been implemented early-on and the recent speedy progress that had been made in therapeutics and vaccine development.
But then things got personal as Murtaugh berated Cuomo’s brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Tim Murtaugh, right, were involved in a fiery interview on CNN Monday night where the Trump campaign spokesperson accused Cuomo of not taking the pandemic seriously
“I gave you a chance to put your arguments out there… We’ll let people do the fact-check for themselves,” @ChrisCuomo says to Trump 2020 campaign comms. director Tim Murtaugh, adding, “In seven days we’ll see whether people think [Trump] did the right job on this pandemic.” pic.twitter.com/BJYZya88TO
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) October 27, 2020
He outlined how the governor had praised the Trump administration for providing New York state with everything they needed. But Cuomo quickly defended his brother’s position.
‘Your own brother, the governor of New York, said that every time he turned to the administration, the federal government was there with everything,’ Murtaugh said.
‘He did not say that. And that is not what happened,’ Cuomo responded.
‘No. He said, “I went to the federal government. They helped me with things. They did not help with everything. They’re still not helping,”‘ Cuomo claimed.
Murtaugh held up a photo of Chris Cuomo and a giant Q-tip which was from a show in May when he was mocking his governor brother, Andrew over the size of his nose
‘Your brother predicted a ventilator shortage. He said he needed 40,000 ventilators or people would die. That shortage never materialized…’ Murtaugh noted, ‘because the president engaged the private sector and the government to create the equipment, the PPE, the gowns, the gloves and the ventilators that we needed.’
Murtaugh then accused Cuomo of appearing ‘self-righteous’ and even accused him of not taking the situation seriously, holding up a photograph of a moment earlier in the year when Cuomo joked with his governor brother that he would need a gigantic Q-Tip in order to swab his nasal passages for coronavirus.
‘Does this look like a couple of guys who were taking it seriously?’ Murtaugh asked holding up the printout from the May broadcast.
‘You had your brother on for the Cuomo Brothers Comedy Hour, joking about the size of the Q-Tip that you would need for his nose to take the test,’ he continued.
‘Yeah, I did. It was funny as hell,’ Cuomo said in his defense.
CNN host Chris Cuomo and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo were slammed in May for their lighthearted jokes on coronavirus testing during an episode of Cuomo Prime Time
On the episode Chris joked about the size of Andrew’s nose by bringing out a baseball bat-sized nasal swab, saying that’s what the governor needed to use to get tested for coronavirus
‘Tim, I’m telling you. I will cut you off. You are not going to flood the zone on this show,’ Cuomo warned him.
‘Now, you took your swing. It missed. So now let’s discuss. Is that all you got? That my brother didn’t take Covid seriously? Are you kidding yourself? That I made fun with him at a time of such acute distress?’ he asked.
Cuomo then attempted to push back at Murtaugh by accusing the communications director of shying away from talking about the president’s response and instead was focused on Governor Cuomo because he was ‘coming from a place of weakness.’
The tit-for-tit continued as Murtaugh then went on to accuse CNN of using the coronavirus as a ‘political weapon’ adding that Cuomo had advocated ‘for a complete and total shutdown.’ Cuomo denied the assertion.
‘This is not an interview, Chris. This is a lecture,’ Murtaugh responded.
Cuomo immediately shot back: ‘I’m not trying to lecture. I’m trying to rebut what you put out there. ‘You’re the one who lectured me with the picture of my brother and I, which was very funny, at a time when our country was hurting.’
‘I didn’t think it was that funny,’ Murtaugh responded.
‘Oh, I don’t know if you’re a good judge of humor because you think what the president is saying at these rallies is funny,’ Cuomo then said.
‘I’m about a president sending the right message and giving states what they need to fight a pandemic,’ Cuomo stated.
But the personal attacks resumed once again as Murtaugh asked if Cuomo had been following coronavirus guidelines to the letter.
‘Why did you get reprimanded by your own apartment building?’ Murtaugh asked referring to an incident in which Cuomo was admonished for not wearing a mask around his New York City apartment block.
‘Because I did the wrong thing,’ said Cuomo, who appeared flustered for the first time. ‘Why won’t the president adjust his messaging?’ he quickly responded.
Murtaugh continued with the attack and asked about another moment from earlier in the year when Cuomo had been spotted biking in Long Island and confronted a cyclist who asked him why he had not been quarantining during his recovery from the virus or following social distancing guidelines.
Cuomo denied that he had ever broken quarantine.
The interview went on for 13 minutes with both parties yelling and talking over one another
‘Everyone knows you broke it!’ Murtaugh argued.
‘You came home and you pretended to rise up from your basement like Lazarus even though you had already broken quarantine while you were Covid-positive,’ Murtaugh went on to criticize.
‘If you want to mock my getting sick, you can,’ Cuomo said. ‘You want me to be the story, you want my brother to be the story because you can’t handle Trump. The numbers were supposed to disappear!’
The interview went on for several more minutes with both parties yelling and talking over one another.
Eventually, it was time to head to a commercial break and the interview wound up with Cuomo looking ahead to election day.
‘I respect your effort because that’s the game. You want to go at [New York Governor] Andrew, his legacy will stand for what it was and his actions will be judged at the ballot box,’ Cuomo said.
‘I will own any mistake I make because I’m not this president and I’m not in power. I’ll tell you what, brother, in seven days we’ll see whether people think he did the right thing on this pandemic.’