CNN's Chris Cuomo is defending himself after facing an onslaught of online mockery this week for suggesting incorrectly that so-called "hate speech" is not protected under the First Amendment.
"I got beat up for this tweet that I made," Cuomo said in a Facebook video Thursday afternoon, referring to remarks that he originally made on Twitter. "It was a clumsy tweet. I got caught up in a back and forth."
Cuomo claimed hate speech is "excluded from" First Amendment protection Wednesday during an intellectual showdown with a Twitter user who lamented that "too many people are trying to say hate speech [does not equal] free speech."
"It doesn't," replied the "New Day" anchor and brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Hate speech is excluded from protection. Don't just say you love the Constitution. Read it."
The exchange between the CNN anchor and the Twitter user came shortly after Cuomo, a law school graduate, had criticized the organizers of a "Draw Muhammad" event in Garland, Texas, that nearly came under terrorist attack this weekend.
When several Twitter users challenged Cuomo to cite where, exactly, "hate speech" is mentioned in the U.S. Constitution, the CNN anchor brought up the Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire ruling. In that World War II-era case, the high court carved out its exception for "fighting" words, "which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace."
However, in regard to so-called hate speech, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in Snyder v. Phelps that speech on public land on a public issue cannot be litigated against, even if it is deemed "outrageous."
When Twitter users, including several Constitutional lawyers, charged that Cuomo's invocation of Chaplinsky made no sense, he accused one of his critics of drinking "haterade."
However, on Thursday, Cuomo took a different approach and sought to undo the damage caused by his admittedly "clumsy" remarks.
"Here's the bottom line: of course hate speech is almost always protected by the First Amendment," he said. "It doesn't say that in the First Amendment but the case law does. It's always about the case law in understanding the Constitution. It's all about how it's interpreted by our justice system. So I created confusion that I was trying to clarify."
"That's the irony, but that's on me," Cuomo said.