(NewsNation) — Thank you. To my new bosses, to the anchors, reporters and staff at NewsNation, to Dusty, my executive producer, and my new team, and to you, our audience.
Thank you. I know that I would not be here without your support. And that means everything to me and to what I am going to bring to you every night, no matter where, no matter what.
I would like to dive right into the issues that are being ignored at home and abroad and the game that is driving our politics, but obviously, this show is not a normal show start, given how I got here. So, a word about that first.
Shakespeare wrote in “The Tempest” that “the past is prologue,” meaning that all that has happened before led to this moment. So it is with me being here with you. I believe that. I have been humbled by what happened and I am also hungry to do better in a way that I was not before.
I have learned lessons — good and bad — in the past many months. I have relied on my family, friends and therapist, and thankfully, it has been the case that what doesn’t kill us does makes us stronger.
My show is going to be different because I have spent a lot of time looking and listening on the sidelines. It is obvious that we need people in my position to do more than play or even just referee the game that is plaguing our politics and society. That means exposing the game when it is played, showing how it is being played and also being more transparent about where my head is on the issues that we cover.
I also have a new appreciation for exactly how unique my situation is. Most people in my business know politics from the outside. I know it from the inside.
I was raised by a giant named Mario Cuomo, a major voice for the old Democratic Party. I have seen the inner workings of campaigns and the interplay between politics and government and the interplay between the media and those in power in a way few others in my position have.
Add to that the fact that I’ve been doing this job for more than 20 years. I was No. 1 at CNN, held high positions at ABC News for a dozen years before that and was at Fox News before that. So I know the deal inside and out.
I’ve been all over this world showing the best and worst of humanity. I’ve been a witness to history for most of the major events in the past two decades. So now, I want to bring all of that to bear in helping you understand what’s going on around you and to you.
My goals are very simple: I want you to count on me going where it matters, whether that means anywhere in the world or to wherever I must in an interview — all in the hope of getting viewers like you more involved in the dynamic that is currently dominated by an angry fringe.
That’s why I am at NewsNation. It is new. No groupthink established, no audience that has been conditioned to favor one team or ideology. After all, NewsNation refers to you, America. You are the news nation.
We won’t follow the pack on the elections, either, using a tool no one else has: 200 affiliates to show you what a race is being determined by at home, not at some national party headquarters.
That’s why I started “The Chris Cuomo Project” podcast with my own money — to have longer discussions about what matters. This show and that one will work together to give you the most food for thought.
And the good news is that you are the overwhelming majority. And you know there is a game afoot. And you want it to change.
I’m not coming from a place of cynicism. I am an optimist, and there is good news. And you will hear about what makes us great and you will see how the faces and places in this nation are interconnected and interdependent — that we still dare to care about one another, both across the street or across the country.
The simple truth is that America is the superpower on this planet, the beacon of a better life for most people and most places abroad. At home, we still have more advantages than most, and here is a message that we need to hear a lot more, especially from those in power: We are still nowhere near our potential.
We are manipulated by manufactured division that only works to advance the interests of the fringe and the fake. It is only online and how that can be echoed on TV that distorts the reality.
Of course there is division, especially now, but it is not all bad or as bad as you see on social media. And people like me in the media should’ve never relied on it as “vox populi,” the voice of the people. It isn’t.
In a recent survey, less than 20% identify themselves as strong Democrat or strong Republican. The fastest growing part of the electorate is those of you who don’t identify with either party. The majority is not about right or left, but rather reasonable.
That’s why I’m not going to rely on reading tweets to measure your feedback. I’m going old school. During my show, viewers can call in at 844-968-7720 to let me know what they think. It is time for us to discuss our society as the adults in the room, not some raging radicals.
Here, we will push those you elected to explain how to make things better. Here, we will not allow leaders to play situations to their advantage, instead of yours.
Here’s what I mean. School shootings are a plague on our society, and more than 300,000 of our children have been exposed to them in their schools since Columbine. But the No. 1 gun crime in this country every year is suicide. The numbers aren’t even close. But we never discuss it because it doesn’t fuel division, and division is the game.
I am a gun owner and most gun owners I know don’t want the wrong people getting high-powered weapons with high capacity magazines, and most polls show a majority of us are against so-called assault weapons, and yet the minority rules.
Even if you want to focus on the role of emotional distress and illness in mass shootings, our leaders still don’t look to solve it. Proof: we just had a vote in Congress for more resources to help those in distress in our schools. Not a single member of the GOP voted for it.
Why not, when they point to this issue as mattering every time we have a school shooting? The simple answer: because they didn’t get school security money that they wanted.
I’m fine with my kids having armed security protecting them if needed. A big reason that you don’t hear about school shootings in big cities at the scale or the frequency that we cover elsewhere is because of the enhanced security in those schools. But the fact that you wouldn’t vote for something that makes it better because you didn’t get what you want is the game. And it is time to change that game.
On immigration, all you hear about is migrants who enter the country illegally. Politicians and the media don’t talk about legal immigration, even though we have such a shortfall of people to take jobs that are absolutely essential to our economy.
And if you want to know what the biggest motivator is for people to risk their lives to sneak into this country? It’s not that they are evil drug mules. It is the enticement by large-scale employers. Why hardly any mention of them? Why is all the focus on the migrants?
The game allows the left to show that the right has no heart and for the right to show that the left has no head for law and order. Again, the problem works better for them than the solution. That is the game, and we have to change the game.
On college debt, the battle is over who pays to forgive loans but almost no talk about why college is so expensive. Why not? Because just like with immigration, they would rather talk about the problem than mess with the powerful — including big liberal universities — who would have to be compromised in order to get to a solution.
The day that we move past a simple position of opposition between left and right and move toward what is reasonable is the day that we change the game. If you think about it, referring to our politics as a battle between right and left is relatively new. We used to be about the parties, but as the parties became just ideological bases of opposition and increasingly negative perspectives on our reality, they’ve lost their individual identity.
That’s why I believe we need more parties. Ranked choice voting. Term limits in Congress. For presidential electors to be apportioned in the states that matter. You need more choice so that there is more pressure on people to create progress instead of just noise.
To be clear, the game is played by both sides and social media and digital outlets that profit off it make the problem worse. That doesn’t mean I see all players as equal. In politics, what you ignore you often empower, and the right has made a mistake in its silence for too long.
Our election was not stolen. Your Republican leaders know it, and yet, too many are too quiet while spending too much time being too loud on social media about things that matter a lot less. It is a mistake.
Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, made news this weekend by saying that she wouldn’t be surprised if a lawmaker gets killed given all the talk of violence and threats in the air. She said she has had to call the police. She said people come to her home. That’s not OK.
I have had good conversations with the senator, but as things got worse, she too got quiet. It doesn’t make what’s happening to her right — it is dead wrong to threaten anyone, let alone a senator, but she has a responsibility to speak out against the violence all the time, not just when it targets her.
She has a responsibility, as do all lawmakers on the right, to shout down the absurdity within their own ranks and play to the interests of regular people like you who are moving away from the process because of all the poison.
I do believe the left has an opportunity for high ground because of these attacks on our democracy, and the upcoming midterms may well be affected by a reaction to Jan. 6 and election tales. But if you want to say you’re better, you need to show that you are better, and letting Democrat dollars fund extreme, fringe, far right candidates in primaries shows they, too, see too much value in playing the game.
To be honest, I really don’t see how in this current two-party configuration either side can change the game on its own accord. Opposition has become too valuable and powerful a position in an electorate that increasingly focuses on the extreme.
Here, I want to play to the majority because only you can change the game. Free agents, no team or tribe, you know who you are. Socially liberal, fiscally conservative but open to ideas, even if you disagree. Live and let live. Not caught up in judging everyone and everything. That’s reasonable. That’s what will change the game.
My show will be topical, but it won’t be typical. I will not follow the pack. I am here to expose the games that are played in our politics and sometimes in our press. I am here to focus on common ground and the collective will to find solutions.
We can’t obsess over government investigations and fabricated fights at home and ignore the real strife in Iran. We obsess on the alleged swamp in Washington, but we forget about Jackson, Mississippi, where they still fear their water is contaminated and had a boil notice until recently. The federal government says it is ready to file a complaint, but why hasn’t there been one already? Not enough attention.
Hurricane Ian was horrible, and I wish I could have been there for you when it hit, but it will fade from view exactly when they need the most attention: when the insurance claims are made for help. We will be there and on that. Most won’t. That’s the game, too, and it must change.
So, you get where I am coming from and where the team here wants to go with you and for you. Now, there is nothing to it but to do it.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not of NewsNation.