Why Chris Cuomo Listens to the Viewers and Ignores the Media

By Merrill Knox 

Chris Cuomo UkraineWithin a few hours of the first reports that a Malaysia Airlines jet had been shot down in eastern Ukraine, CNN’s Chris Cuomo was on his way to the crash site, where he has been reporting across the network’s shows for the past week. In a wide-ranging interview with TVNewser this afternoon, Cuomo talked about his time in Ukraine and why covering this story has been different than other assignments he’s had in the past. (More on that tomorrow morning on TVNewser.)

He also responded to media coverage of an on-air slip earlier this week when he offered a Congressman a chance to “shoot down” a theory about the crash: “The idea that I was going to be accused in any way of being insensitive is ridiculous. That’s not who I’ve ever been, that’s not who I am, that’s not what drives my interest in my profession,” Cuomo says.

“Blogs, media in general, use negativity as a proxy for insight, and they are increasingly nasty,” he adds. “I expect it of them. But I don’t read them, and they don’t affect what I do. My audience is the people who watch us on TV and try to gather the information digitally. My reputation within this small and toxic fraternity of media is of very little interest to me.”

To keep viewer reaction at the forefront, Cuomo says he uses social media as “as a reflection of relevancy,” giving equal attention to both the negative and the positive feedback. He uses the comments on Twitter and Facebook to glean “whether what we’re doing makes sense for people, what they get, what they don’t get, what they like, what they don’t like, and why, most importantly.”

“As for taking it personally, it’s not even a consideration for me. I guess it’s because I grew up in the public eye,” says the son of a former New York governor, and brother of the current one. “I have to know you, to care about what you think about me.”

Look for more of our interview with Cuomo about his MH317 coverage tomorrow.