CNN top talent Chris Cuomo claims an interesting distinction in today’s news world: Never has he uttered on CNN’s air the names of those two people who allegedly carried out the Boston Marathon bombings. In an interview this morning, Cuomo was riffing on the heroism of the first responders at the Boston Marathon, and how many lives they saved.
From there, he switched to the cowardice of the bombers. “I never, ever — and you can check this: I’ve never said the names of those two suspects on television,” said Cuomo. “Never. And that’s not because I can’t pronounce them….I believe, that’s sunk into me. The Adam Lanza stuff — you do have to be worried about giving them too much attention.”
In April 2007, Seung Hui Cho killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. Less than a year later, Steven Kazmierczak killed five people on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Both ended their rampages in suicide. “It happened, and it was a copycat thing, and it was because this kid wanted to go out … people think that their glorification can come through violence,” he said.
After the Virginia Tech incident occurred, the NIU shooter became excited and studied everything he could about the Virginia Tech assailant, including where that person bought his guns. He was intrigued with the fact that Cho chained the doors shut at Norris Hall in preparation for the ensuing massacre, and he commented to his new best friend that Cho “obviously planned it out well.”
In the home of Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza, authorities found a newspaper clipping about the NIU shooting.
Cuomo conceded that his silence on the names of the Boston bombers is greatly facilitated by others on CNN’s air who say “Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.” When asked if he crusades internally for suppressing mention of the names, Cuomo responded, “You have a responsibility to have the information, but the conversation becomes, ‘What is the responsibility and to what information?’ How much time do you spend talking about why the older brother hated us? How much time and attention do you give that?”
Cuomo’s comments on some of the weightiest topics in journalism came at the tail end of something far lighter: A press event for CNN’s upcoming morning program “New Day,” which debuts on June 17 and will run from 6 a.m. till 9 a.m. daily. It features Cuomo along with CNNers Kate Bolduan and Michaela Pereira.
For the rollout, CNN rolled out boss Jeff Zucker, who vowed that the new show would set the “tone and agenda” for the the rest of the day’s proceedings on CNN. “We feel really good about where CNN is today,” said Zucker, who raved about the chemistry on the “New Day” crew. People wanted to know whether “New Day” would have cooking segments and other puffy nonsense. “We’re going to be a news program in the morning,” Zucker said.
And when surrounded by reporters after the event, Zucker responded to several questions about the network. The skinny, in no particular order: Howard Kurtz is good to go as the host of Sunday media-crit show “Reliable Sources”; the struggle to regain the top spot in cable news will be a long slog, perhaps as long as three years; Fox News is “incredibly strong”; no regrets over how CNN reacted to its mistaken report of an arrest in the Boston bombers case: “We made that mistake and within 45 minutes acknowledged it,” he said.