Gianni Russo, who played Carlo Rizzi in “The Godfather” and “The Godfather: Part II,” spoke about whether CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s claim that “Fredo” is a racial slur is valid.
Russo told TMZ that he knows the Cuomos and doesn’t buy the claim that referring to Italians by the name of a character in the “Godfather” movies is racist. He doesn’t think Cuomo’s embarrassing rant caught on cell phone camera was justified.
“He’s saying ‘Fredo’ is an Italian insult. I want to hear from you. Is that an Italian insult, a slur?” a TMZ reporter asked Russo.
“I can’t believe that he would say that. First of all, I knew the whole family. His father would smack him,”
Russo said he even very recently saw Cuomo’s mother and has no idea why Cuomo equates the name with a racial insult.
“His father would be ashamed of him even saying that?” the TMZ reporter asked Russo.
“Of course! I don’t understand why… first of all, it’s a classic film. You’re talking about a character that was weak.”
Russo and the reporter agreed that “Fredo” has no ethnic connotations. Russo connected how Cuomo casually applying a racial definition to “Fredo” relates to something a lot of current-day newscasters are doing.
“I heard he’s hurt his career,” Russo said about the news anchor nearly getting into a fight on camera during the rant.
“You think he hurt his career?” asked the reporter.
“Oh yeah! First of all, all these news guys are getting so opinionated, they’re supposed to report news. It’s not about what you think. And you’re taking Fredo, a character from a classic…It’s like spitting at the Mona Lisa. Are you crazy or what?” said Russo.
Russo also revealed he was very close to the event where Cuomo gave the angry and profanity-filled rant, but that he didn’t go inside.
CNN expressed their support for Cuomo after the backlash once the rant became public. But sources told Page Six that the station was embarrassed, and thought that Cuomo escalated the situation too far.
One source told Page Six that Cuomo will not face consequences for his actions from his employer: “he’s BFFs with [CNN president Jeff] Zucker.”
Steve Cuozzo wrote an opinion piece for the New York Post points out that Fredo is not a racial slur. He said there are other examples of racial stereotypes and derogatory language towards Italian-Americans that are unnoticed by the public.
Despite that, he said that Italians don’t need coddling because “We’re (mostly) secure, prosperous and comfortable in our skins.” He rejects the double-standard that applies and says to “spare us the slurs that would stir the wrath of the woke if they were hurled at any other group.”
In response to the Cuomo meltdown, President Trump’s election campaign started selling shirts that show pictures of Cuomo from the rant video, along with the words “Fredo Unhinged” and “Text ‘Fredo’ to 88022.” The number sequence is used for text message Trump campaign updates.
“I think that what Chris Cuomo did was horrible. His language was horrible. He looked like a total out-of-control animal. He lost it. And frankly, I don’t think anybody could defend him, because he spews lies every night,” President Trump said to reporters, via Fox 10.