Chris Cuomo’s nightly show Cuomo on NewsNation turns one on October 3. Viewers have seen a slightly looser version of Cuomo on the new network, not wearing the trademark black suit and getting out in the field more to speak with everyday Americans about their issues.
The show is NewsNation’s top-rated program, according to Nielsen. In September, Cuomo averaged 120,000 total viewers and 25,000 in the demo.
The executive producer is Alexandra “Dusty” Cohen, who did not work with Cuomo at CNN and spent close to a couple of decades at The View. Her friendship with Cuomo goes back many years, and he tapped her to launch the NewsNation show with him.
“Christopher Cuomo had more confidence in me than I had in myself,” said Cohen, who added that she figured everyone in cable news was smarter and better educated than her. On Cuomo, she said, she gets “to exercise a muscle I didn’t know I had.”
In a statement, Cuomo said of the show’s anniversary, “Any longevity is a blessing in this business, and Dusty and the team have really helped establish NewsNation as a movement in America.”
Cohen spoke to B+C about year one, and what’s next for Cuomo, and Cuomo.
She said she first met the host some 27 years ago, when he was going to law school with her brother. She arrived at ABC to launch The View in 1997, and he came to that network a few years later.
“I would use him on The View, put him at the table,” Cohen said. “Boy, would he hold his own.”
Cohen said Cuomo benefits from her long “history” with the host. “I know all the different sides of Chris,” she said. “I knew he wasn’t just the guy in the black suit on CNN. My goal has been for everybody to see all the different sides of Chris.”
She described him as “the funniest person I know” and much warmer on NewsNation than he was on CNN.
Cuomo hosted Cuomo Prime Time in the 9 p.m. hour on CNN. He was suspended in late November 2021 for his role in aiding his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, when the governor was accused of sexual harassment. He was fired a few days later, after a law firm’s investigation into his behavior.
Cohen got the Dusty moniker before she was born. Her parents considered naming her Justine, which her brother could not quite pronounce. They went with Alexandra instead, but “Dusty” stuck.
She mentioned dropping out of college just a few months in, working at various bars and restaurants, and then landing an entry-level job at WWOR New York (channel 9) at the age of 19, thanks in part to a bar customer she waited on.
Cohen said she and Cuomo have a different partnership than hosts and producers typically do. “We have a banter and rapport that you can’t make up,” she said.
Cohen is on the air now and then, fielding phone calls from viewers. “We wanted to go a little old-school and do calls,” she said.
Last week, Cuomo visited East Palestine, Ohio, site of the train derailment in February that dumped toxic materials across the landscape. The September 26 episode focused on the East Palestine community eight months after the disaster. That special “epitomizes what NewsNation is about — people that are forgotten, people that the other networks aren’t focusing on,” Cohen said. “No one holds a candle to Chris when he’s out in the field with real people, people suffering from real problems.”
Cuomo will feature more boots-on-the-ground coverage from the host, and producers, in year two. “Chris can jump on a plane at any moment and visit a small town that’s not being paid attention to, that needs attention,” Cohen said. “We’ll look at those places as much as we can.”
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Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.