Manieri column: Maybe the real Fredo wasn’t so dumb after all
“Fredo has a good heart but he is weak … and stupid.” — Michael Corleone
Poor Fredo. Poor, poor Fredo.
First, he’s talked into double-crossing his own brother.
“I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.”
Then his brother disowns him.
“Fredo, you’re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother. You’re not a friend. When you see our mother, I wanna know a day in advance so I won’t be there.”
And then he goes on a one-way fishing trip.
“I ordered the death of my brother. He injured me. I killed my mother’s son. I killed my father’s son.”
Now, his very name is being misinterpreted as a racial/ethnic slur.
Someone with a camera saw CNN anchor Chris — “Are you talking to me?” — Cuomo at a New York bar and called the younger brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, “Fredo,” Michael Corleone’s simple, younger brother in The Godfather.
The video went viral, not because of the “Fredo” reference but because of Cuomo’s reaction. The newsman didn’t exactly dismiss the insult as if he were shooing away an annoying fly.
“No, punk-ass b–es from the right call me ‘Fredo.’ My name is Chris Cuomo. I’m an anchor on CNN,” Cuomo responded. “’Fredo’ was from ‘The Godfather.’ He was a weak brother and they use that as an Italian slur — are any of you Italian?… It’s a f—ing insult to your people. It’s an insult to your f–kin’ people. It’s like the N-word for us. Is that a cool f—ing thing?”
Chris — paison, bubula (I’m one-quarter Jewish so I’m covered) — take it easy. I know we Italians are known for our passion and quick temper, but your blood pressure, son.
“Fredo” is not a racial or ethnic slur. If it is, it’s news to me. I just think it means, as Donald Trump Jr. pointed out, that you’re the meathead younger brother. That’s all. No need to get all worked up. Even the real Fredo understood that much.
“I can handle things. I’m smart. Not like everybody says, like dumb.”
I’ve never been called “Fredo” probably only because I don’t have an older brother. But I have been called a moron and an idiot, among other things, on a fairly regular basis. It’s not so bad.
Years ago, when I was working as a reporter for the Fox TV station in Philadelphia, some guy I had never seen before called me a “pompass a– dago. Now, that’s an ethnic slur.
In this case, Cuomo was giving the guy with the camera exactly what he wanted so he continued to taunt him.
“You’re a much more reasonable guy in person than you seem to be on television,” he said to Cuomo.
“If you want to play, we’ll f—ing play,” the anchorman responded. “If you’ve got something to say about what I do on television, then say it, but you don’t have to call me a f—in’ insult.”
A little later, he threatened to throw the guy down the stairs.
I think I speak for most, if not all Italians, that if someone called me Fredo, I would assume he meant that I’m a dope. Not sure why Cuomo went with the racial/ethnic defense right out of the box.
Yes, the outburst was over the top. But maybe he got caught in an unguarded moment, with his family, some jerk is trying to trigger an outburst and Cuomo takes the bait. The video, by the way, had more than 3.4 million views by Tuesday.
And, of course, Twitter erupted, with President Donald J. Trump, who never passes on bait, leading the chorus.
“I think 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 should defend him because he spews lies every night.”
Trump can’t stand Cuomo because of his politics and Cuomo hammers Trump on CNN night after night. These two won’t be ordering a margarita with two straws.
So, to recap, we have some guy with a phone trying, and succeeding, to get under the skin of a network news anchor, who responds with a profanity-laced tirade, to which the president of the United States responds by calling the news anchor an “animal.”
Of all the characters in this whole drama, the real Fredo is starting to look pretty sharp.
Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. His book, “We Burn on Friday: A Memoir of My Father and Me” is available at amazon.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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