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Chris Cuomo, NewsNation staffers upset over Kanye West interview

Kanye "Ye" West is interviewed during a broadcast of "Cuomo" on NewsNation.
Kanye “Ye” West is interviewed during a broadcast of “Cuomo” on NewsNation. (Image via NewsNation broadcast, Graphic by The Desk)

Employees at Nexstar Media Group’s NewsNation are upset over an interview conducted between its newest television personality, Chris Cuomo, and rap artist Ye on Monday.

The live interview with Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was produced about a week after the musician went on an anti-Semitic tirade that resulted in his banishment from the social media websites Instagram and Twitter.

On Monday, Ye announced he was purchasing Parler, a social media website embraced by extremists, conspiracy theorists and extreme conservatives. The purchase was the first topic discussed during Cuomo’s interview with the rapper later that evening.

According to the New York Post, some NewsNation employees are upset that the interview happened at all, with staffers believing the segment gave Ye’s remarks more exposure than was deserved.

Insiders reportedly told the Post that guests approached for programs hosted by Dan Abrams and Ashleigh Banfield decided against appearing on their shows, because they did not want to follow Ye’s interviews.

One source purportedly told the Post that NewsNation executives wanted Abrams and Banfield to dedicate a significant amount of time on their shows to unpacking Cuomo’s interview with Ye, something that ultimately did not happen. Another criticized NewsNation’s public relations department for posting clips of the interview to social media and for an internal memo circulated to employees that called the question-and-answer segment “powerful.”

Cuomo was also reportedly upset over the interview, but for a different reason: The entirety of the conversation took place while Ye was in the backseat of a moving vehicle. One week earlier, Ye agreed to a sit-down interview with Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson, who has the highest-rated prime-time program on cable news.

Cuomo’s show on Monday garnered 129,000 viewers, according to overnight ratings released by Nielsen. The episode ranked 61st out of all cable news shows for the day. Carlson’s program was the second highest-rated program for the day, drawing 3.51 million viewers, the data from Nielsen showed.

NewsNation has struggled to improve Cuomo’s ratings since the show debuted earlier this month. On its debut night, Cuomo grabbed 147,000 curious viewers, according to Nielsen. The number increased to 193,000 viewers one day later.

Nexstar signed Cuomo to NewsNation several months after he was fired from CNN for violating the network’s ethical standards. The company hoped Cuomo could replicate at NewsNation the level of success he saw at CNN, where his program was one of the most-watched on the network.

NewsNation is reportedly paying Cuomo around $1 million annually, a fraction of the $6 million he was making at CNN.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).