In mid-August, CNN host Chris Cuomo offered a partial defense of the violence-embracing Antifa because, as he put it, “fighting hate matters.”
“I argue to you tonight, all punches are not equal morally,” he said (video below). “In the eyes of the law, yes. But in the eyes of good and evil, here’s the argument: if you’re a punk that comes to start trouble in a mask and hurt people, you’re not about any virtuous cause. You’re just somebody who’s going to be held to the standard of doing something wrong. But when someone comes to call out bigots and it gets hot, even physical, are they equally wrong as the bigot they are fighting? I argue, no. Fighting against hate matters.”
On his show Wednesday, Cuomo invited on Steve Cortes, former Hispanic Advisory Council member to President Donald Trump, to discuss Trump’s warning to evangelical leaders that if the GOP loses in November, there will be “violence” from the left. “They will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently,” Trump said. “There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”
When Cuomo asked Cortes if Trump should apologize for “stok[ing] that kind of fear” about potential violence, Cortes argued that Trump isn’t stoking fear, but rather recognizing that the “very unfortunate reality in America is that political violence is on the rise, on both the right and the left.”
Cuomo clearly wasn’t satisfied with that response, again expressing alarm at Trump’s statement that there are “violent people” on the left.
“A lot of them are,” said Cortes.
“Who’s ‘them’?” asked Cuomo before Cortes could finish the thought.
“Antifa is ‘them,'” Cortes stressed, pointing to Trump’s direct reference to Antifa. As Cuomo maintained his look of befuddlement, Cortes continued: “Chris, look, when people, when a thug puts on a mask, whether that mask is a racist Klansman’s hood or whether it is a radical Antifa’s black mask … When they do that and when they resort to political violence, which has been done, on both sides, it is totally unacceptable in a decent society in America.”
“Who disagrees with that? If you break the law, then you’re a rioter and a thug and criminal,” said Cuomo.
“You know who disagrees unfortunately, Chris?” Cortes responded. “You do. Because you equivocated on this very point on your show.”
Before Cortes could get his full statement out, Cuomo launched into his indignant self-defense, in which he made clear again that he believes that violence from far-left Antifa is different than violence from far-right racists.
“I never equivocated on anything!” insisted an agitated Cuomo in a raised voice. “You let your righty mouthpieces twist my words for effect to enhance a bigoted agenda, and now you’re going to sell it — and it’s a mistake on this show. I said very clearly and people can check my words, ‘You break the law you’re a criminal and a thug!’ I said don’t create a moral equation between those who preach hate and those who fight it because not all punches are equal. And I stand by that. But I never endorsed Antifa. Don’t sell B.S. to my face! Do it behind my back where you’re better at it!”
“I’m not pro-Antifa,” said Cuomo, “I don’t know even know who makes up the organization.”
“Then don’t say that they’re anti-hate!” said Cortes.
Cuomo then accused Cortes of not listening to his “fighting hate matters” defense and took the opportunity to express his disdain for right-wing media. “You read your little buddies at Breitbart and the little niche places that you say need to have more time on Google,” said Cuomo. “And you came up with Cuomo didn’t beat down Antifa enough. Untrue. I said if you break the law, you’re a criminal. It’s not good enough for you guys! You know why? You want to divide.”
The rant, which was presented as Cuomo “pummeling” and “calling out” Cortes by Mediaite and HuffPost, was clearly something Cuomo and co. also felt quite good about, as they promptly posted video of it on Twitter:
When Cortes said Cuomo described Antifa as “fighting hate,” Cuomo denied it, insisting he just defended “those that fight hate.” But, as Twitchy highlighted this week, along with his clear defense of Antifa on his own show, Cuomo also once posted this gem:
Here’s video of Cuomo’s original comments from RCP, which agreed with “Breitbart and the little niche places” that Cuomo’s original comments were a defense of Antifa: