Chris Cuomo started his first show, as one does when attempting to appease everyone, by quoting William Shakespeare.
“‘The past is prologue,’” the CNN-turned-NewsNation host partially quoted from The Tempest, “meaning that all that has happened before led to this moment, and so it is with me being here with you tonight. I believe that.”
It was a moment that preceded the mission statement—and general essence—of the first episode of Cuomo, the new 8 p.m. centerpiece of the fledgling network’s primetime lineup and the former anchor’s most high-profile job since he sued CNN for allegedly making him unemployable.
“It’s obvious to me that we need people in my position to do more, to not just play or even referee the game that is plaguing our politics and society,” he said. “That means exposing the game, show when it’s played, show how it’s being played, and also to be more transparent about where my head is on the issues that we cover.”
Cuomo carried that mindset—and his “Let’s get after it” motto—throughout the debut episode, bringing on mascots of opposing sides for the sake of double-siding issues.
His method seemed to be either drawing in a person on either political side for a down-the-middle discussion (the first segment included former Defense Secretary William Cohen and former National Security Adviser John Bolton discussing Russia’s war on Ukraine) or a person who has attacked those on both sides (such as the first of a two-part interview with comedian Bill Maher). “Yes, on the same show, because it’s time to get past the left or right,” Cuomo said when introducing the former military officials.
In doing so, Cuomo seemed to incorporate characters who are not fully embraced by their own parties. Cohen, while a Clinton cabinet official, was a Republican congressman, and Bolton has been a staple of mainstream cable outlets and has been labeled “a disgruntled boring fool” by his most recent former boss, Donald Trump. Maher has also been far removed from the left’s embrace, and Cuomo’s final guest—journalist Dan Rather—has solidified his talents on Substack and Twitter.
The show did, however, serve as a prime model for Cuomo’s embrace of an expanded party system, touting his podcast’s model of being a “free agent” to his audience. It also allowed him to reintroduce himself, and his family’s history, on a personal level to NewsNation viewers, starting the show with an acknowledgment of his father’s governorship and ending the show with a phone-in from his mother. It was a new show for NewsNation, but it was a new moment for Cuomo.
“Thank you for being with us,” he said in his sign-off. “This is the best comeback I could have hoped for.”