The notion of cable news as entertainment has no better recent supporting example than literally any of the seven times CNN's Chris Cuomo has interviewed White House counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway this year on his 6 a.m. show New Day.
Conway sat for another Cuomo interview on Thursday morning, her first since July, that was described in write-ups as an "explosive" sparring match. "Kellyanne Conway's Rambling Nonsense May Have Broken Chris Cuomo," HuffPost reported. Their first interview of the year, in early January, was described as "heated" by one outlet and a "transfixing war of words" by another.
One common theme across these interviews, besides Conway pushing back on Cuomo's criticisms of the administration, is both Conway and Cuomo attempting to grasp what on earth the other person is thinking. Blood pressures rise and contorted facial gestures abound.
Cuomo, compared to other cable news anchors, is far more willing to opine on air about Trump and his administration, which adds more fuel to the fire during his interviews of Conway. Conway also frequently criticizes CNN, which further infuriates Cuomo.
Both Conway and Cuomo seem aware of the shareable potential of their interviews, which often run far longer than a standard cable news conversation. "I'm sure it will go viral because you used the words 'naive' and 'deceptive.' ... I know that's the new thing, to go viral," Conway said to Cuomo in a May interview.
So, it's possible that both interviewer and interviewee are sort of in on the joke, even if the interviews look painful for both parties.
A spokesperson for CNN would not make Cuomo available to discuss his relationship with Conway, and Conway did not respond to an emailed request for comment about Cuomo.
Absent comments from both, it seems reasonable to conclude that both Conway and Cuomo respect and like each other to some degree, or else the interviews would stop. During a heated moment in January, Conway said, "You just want to argue with me," to which Cuomo replied: "Not at all. I love you, Kellyanne, and you know it."
Or, despite the acrimony, perhaps they both just know they make good TV together? Conway's boss would certainly understand and accept that rationale. "I'm sure he's watching," she said in January.